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Shaffer v. Brown

Decided: October 21, 1954.

WILLIAM SHAFFER, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
ALEXANDER BROWN, T/A GENERAL ROOFING COMPANY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D.

Francis

[32 NJSuper Page 414] This is a workmen's compensation case in which the sole issue is whether the relationship which existed between respondent William Shaffer and appellant Alexander Brown, trading as General Roofing Company, was that of independent contractor and contractee or employee and employer. The Division of Workmen's Compensation and the County Court reached diverse conclusions; the former held Shaffer to be an independent contractor, the latter declared that he was an employee.

Although a number of subordinate factors are ordinarily considered as bearing upon an issue of this kind, the crucial criterion is that of control of the injured person. If under the agreement of the parties the person for whom the services are to be rendered retains the right to direct the manner and method and means of doing the work called for as well as the result to be accomplished, that is, not only what shall be done but how it shall be done, the relationship between them is that of employer and employee. Wilson v. Kelleher Motor Freight Lines, Inc. , 12 N.J. 261 (1953); El v. Newark Star Ledger , 131 N.J.L. 373 (Sup. Ct. 1944); Burdick v. Liberty Motor Freight Lines, Inc. , 128 N.J.L. 229 (Sup. Ct. 1942); American Carrier Corp. v. Avigliano , 123 N.J.L. 490 (Sup. Ct. 1939); Errickson v. Schweiers Co. , 108 N.J.L. 481 (E. & A. 1932).

Brown was in the roofing, siding and general home repair business and had been so engaged for about 24 years. In June 1952 Shaffer, in answer to a "Help Wanted" advertisement which appeared in the Newark Evening News , called upon Brown, who asked what he could do. Shaffer said he could do roofing, siding or leader work and thereupon Brown hired him, saying he would pay him "so much a square," the actual figures being from $5 to $8 a square, depending on the type shingles. A square is an area 10 feet by 10 feet. The price was to include the services of two helpers Shaffer said he had; also Shaffer was to provide his own ladders, scaffolding and tools and the truck to transport them to the various jobs. Brown was to supply all the materials.

Brown's operations were carried on by what he called "crews," four or five of which were working at the time of the accident. Each crew consisted of two or three men. These men, who were all engaged in the same work as Shaffer, were put on Brown's payroll as employees and deductions were made from their earnings for social security, unemployment and income taxes if their "leader" (apparently the person who made the agreement of hire for himself and his helpers) did not carry workmen's compensation insurance. If such insurance as carried, the "leader" and his helpers

were excluded from the payroll. This was the only reason assigned for including or excluding the workers therefrom.

Shaffer carried no insurance, but neither he nor his helpers were put on the payroll. Brown gave as the sole reason for the failure to do so that Shaffer told him he carried workmen's compensation coverage. Shaffer denied ever discussing the matter with him. However, even though Shaffer and his helpers were not carried on the records as employees, their working arrangement was the same as that of the other crews.

Shaffer worked for about two months until August 20, 1952, when the accident happened out of which this claim arose. During this period he worked for Brown exclusively and did about 12 or 14 jobs.

Brown appeared at the scene of the work and according to Shaffer "quite a few jobs he was out there and told me how he wanted it done, or sometimes he had changes * * * and he would tell me he wanted it done so and so."

Brown was more explicit as to the control he exercised. On examination by his own counsel:

"Q. Did you do any more with Mr. Shaffer than to tell him what ...


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