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Green v. Al Green Enterprises Inc.

Decided: March 15, 1962.

BERLIA ANNETTE GREEN, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
AL GREEN ENTERPRISES, INC., RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT



Price, Sullivan and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Lewis, J.A.D.

Lewis

[73 NJSuper Page 133] Petitioner, Miss Berlia Annette Green, appeals from the judgment of the Essex County Court affirming a determination of the Division of Workmen's Compensation dismissing her claim for work-associated disability.

Miss Green was employed by respondent, Al Green Enterprises, Inc. (no relationship involved), to work at the cafeteria of the Ford Motor Company plant in Mahwah, New Jersey. Her duties included the cleaning and wiping of tables, incident to which she used water containing ammonia and a detergent identified as "Spic 'n' Span." She had been so engaged for 18 months when (in November 1959) she noticed skin eruptions on her fingers and hands. The plant physician advised the employee to see her family doctor for treatment. After three visits to a Dr. Platt, who gave her injections, the condition seemed to clear and she returned to work. Within a week thereafter the blemishes recurred and her supervisor directed her to "go home and stay until it got better." Miss Green testified "it never got better" -- she did not thereafter report to work.

Initially, petitioner qualified for workmen's compensation benefits and received temporary disability payments for a period of four weeks. The only explanation advanced for such payments, in view of the employer's present contention, was that the temporary compensation "may have been paid in error." In any event, respondent is not now precluded from denying liability. Helminsky v. Ford Motor Co. , 111 N.J.L. 369, 374 (E. & A. 1933); Mewes v. Union Bldg. & Construction Co. , 45 N.J. Super. 88, 94 (App. Div. 1957), certif. denied 24 N.J. 546 (1957).

The skin eruptions persisted and petitioner consulted Dr. Irving Shapiro, a specialist in dermatology, who administered treatment to her "twice a week through January 19th of 1960 until December 20th of this year [1960]," except for approximately two weeks in January when she underwent treatment at The Harrison S. Martland Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey. The provisional diagnosis appearing in the hospital records was "contact dermatitis"; they further revealed that the patient was seen by the attending physician, Dr. Otto B. Hitschmann, whose progress notes contained this statement:

"* * * follicular erythematous dermatitis. * * * on legs and feet with large erythematous spots around it confluent and involving the whole lower extremity covering toes completely partly with scales. Both forearms, dorsum of hand and wrists are covered with multiple roundish partly confluent blisters containing scrous and/or purulent fluid.

The impression is that of an acute Erythema Multiforme which might be superimposed on an old standing dermatitis or even fungus infection of toes & hands."

According to petitioner, the skin lesions extended to her legs "when I went into the hospital."

At the hearing before the Division (December 22, 1960), the judge of compensation examined appellant's hands in open court and commented: "How could you find anybody to hire her by the looks of her hands."

Dr. Shapiro testified that on the occasion of his first examination (January 1, 1960) petitioner had:

"a marked bullous and edematous dermatitis involving the fingers, hands, wrists and forearms. I considered this to be a severe contact dermatitis due to detergents, Spic 'n' Span, ammonia and other chemicals which she handled at her work, and I considered that she was in urgent need of treatment and I suggested that such treatment be furnished."

He further stated that her condition "deteriorated so seriously that she required hospitalization at the Martland Medical Center." Upon her discharge from the hospital, he resumed treatment. As to her condition at that time he said "she still had marked vesicular oozing and frosted dermatitis of the hands, fingers and forearms." On being questioned concerning petitioner's exposure to ammonia and cleaning compounds such as that commercially known as "Spic 'n' Span," and the part that such activity played in petitioner's entire dermatological picture, he expressed the opinion "that is the type of exposure which produced her ...


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