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Duncan v. T.I. McCormack Trucking Co.

Decided: February 29, 1956.

EDWIN DUNCAN, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT AND CROSS-APPELLANT,
v.
T.I. MCCORMACK TRUCKING CO., INC., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



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

Francis

This matter comes to us on appeal from a judgment of the County Court where the following opinion was filed:

"This is an appeal from a determination of facts and rule for judgment entered in the New Jersey Department of Labor and Industry, Workmen's Compensation Division, wherein the petitioner was awarded 100% of total permanent disability for an occupational disease involving both hands and known medically as a Dupuytrens Contracture.

"According to the medical testimony a Dupuytrens Contracture is a condition in which the structures of the palm of the hand become involved in a scar-like contracture, the skin and fat under it being bound down to the fascia, the fascia itself becoming thickened and shortened, the tendon sheaths and tendons themselves subsequently becoming thickened and shortened. It manifests itself by a curling up of the hand, first in the ring finger and then the little finger and middle finger. It keeps curling up as time goes on. There is no doubt that the petitioner suffers from this disease.

"At the time of the hearing the petitioner testified he was 58 years of age and had been driving trucks for 40 years; that for the past 14 or 15 years he had been employed by

the respondent and had been driving 15-ton tank trailer trucks, sometimes 400-500 miles a day on long runs; that he was required to handle loading hoses weighing 60-70 pounds. In September of 1950 he began to notice the formation of callous on his hands and in September of 1951 because of swelling had to have a ring cut from the ring finger of his right hand. Thereafter the condition grew worse and it became necessary for him to start refusing long trips. His employment terminated in August of 1952 when the company moved to Port Reading, New Jersey, and he felt it was too great a distance for him to travel from his home each day.

"In the case of Soukup v. Friedman Marble & Slate Works , 255 App. Div. 249, 7 N.Y.S. 2 d 440 (App. Div. 1938), leave to appeal denied, 280 N.Y. 852, 19 N.E. 2 d 686 (Ct. App. 1938), Dupuytrens Contracture was held to be an occupational disease. As early as 1938 the New Jersey Workmen's Compensation Bureau recognized Dupuytrens Contracture as an occupational disease. Mesko v. Overman Cushion Tire Co. , 16 N.J. Misc. 182 (W.C.B. 1938). However, compensation was not allowed inasmuch as it was not a scheduled disease under the then existing occupational disease statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-31. The Legislature saw fit to amend this section in 1949 (L. 1949, c. 29, ยง 2) and substituted all occupational diseases for the scheduled list of diseases theretofore set forth. The pertinent provision is as follows:

"'"Compensable occupational disease" defined.

For the purposes of this article, the phrase "compensable occupational disease" shall include all diseases arising out of and in the course of employment, which are due to causes and conditions which are or were characteristic of or peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process or employment, or which diseases are due to the exposure of any employee to a cause thereof arising out of and in the course of his employment.' N.J.S.A. 34:15-31, as amended. (Emphasis added.)

See Bondar v. Simmons Co. , 23 N.J. Super. 109 (App. Div. 1952), affirmed on opinion below, 12 N.J. 361 (1953),

for an informative and comprehensive dissertation on the effect of this amendment; also Giambattista v. Thomas A. Edison, Inc. , 32 ...


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