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Silagy v. State

Decided: May 15, 1968.

MARGARET SILAGY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND COUNTY OF MERCER, RESPONDENTS-RESPONDENTS



Salvatore, J.c.c.

Salvatore

This action arises out of an appeal from a judgment in the Division of Workmen's Compensation denying petitioner's claim for relief. The essential facts which form the basis of petitioner's claim for relief are not in dispute since all the parties to this action entered into a stipulation at a hearing before Judge of Compensation Skeffington and that stipulation is adopted for the purposes of this appeal. The stipulation is as follows:

"It can be stipulated that on June 29, 1966, Margaret Silagy was and had been in the employ of the State of New Jersey earning a weekly wage of $64.27; that on that day she was engaged in jury service for the County of Mercer at the Mercer County Court House and she sustained injuries by reason of an accident arising out of and during the course of her jury service; she received for her service the regular and statutory jury fee; that everybody has disclaimed liability in the case; and that there are presently due the following bills which have not been paid; The Trenton Orthopedic Group, $80; St. Francis Hospital for X-rays, $84.65; and the petitioner is entitled to reimbursement in the amount of $3.75 for an elastic stocking prescribed by Dr. Thurm, the treating physician. She was also out of work for a period of four weeks during which she was paid her full wages by the State of New Jersey. I think it can also be stipulated that during jury service the State of New Jersey paid her her full wages."

In an order dated November 20, 1967 the petition against the State of New Jersey was dismissed, Judge Skeffington ruling that the injury suffered by petitioner did not result from an accident arising out of and in the course of her employment with the State of New Jersey. The petition against the County of Mercer was similarly dismissed in an order dated November 28, 1967, upon Judge Skeffington's determination that "petitioner while serving on jury duty was not an employee of the County of Mercer", as required by the Workmen's Compensation Act. This appeal follows the entry of the above orders.

Petitioner's normal or usual employment by the State of New Jersey was as a clerk in the Department of Labor and Industry. Upon receiving notice to appear for jury duty on June 20, 1966 at the Mercer County Court House in Trenton, she was permitted to attend to this duty at the expense of the State. It was understood that when petitioner was not needed for jury duty she would appear for her usual employment. On June 29, 1966, she served jury duty and, upon leaving the Mercer County Court House that day, tripped over a rubber mat, resulting in serious injuries to her right foot and ankle.

There is no factual dispute between the parties, hence the issues presented for consideration by this court are as follows:

1. Whether an employee of the State of New Jersey, who is maintained on full salary but serves as a juror for a stipulated period of time, remains an employee of the State during the course of that jury duty and is entitled to receive workmen's compensation benefits from the State for injuries suffered while on said jury duty; and

2. Whether the petitioner was an employee of the County of Mercer because she was summoned for jury duty and performed a particular function for the county; was paid by the county for said jury services; and was at all times subject to the control and direction of the county during the course of her jury duty.

The legal questions raised by this appeal are novel to the State of New Jersey. Neither the court nor counsel for the respective parties were able to find reported decisions of this State discussing the issue of whether, for purposes of workmen's compensation, a juror is an "employee" of the county which summons him for jury duty. There are reported decisions from other states which indicate two views and which will be discussed at length later in this opinion.

The court will first consider the question of whether the petitioner was an employee of the State of New Jersey while serving as a juror.

I

It is the position of respondent State of New Jersey that for a state employee to receive workmen's compensation benefits, she must come within the scope of N.J.S.A. 34:15-43 relating to "public employee[s] within workmen's compensation law * * *." It is further contended that in order to do this, petitioner must have been an employee of the State of New Jersey at the time of her accident and the injury must be work-related; it must have arisen out of and in the course of her employment R.S. 34:15-7.

Petitioner contends that while she was engaged as a member of the jury panel at the Mercer County Court House, the State of New Jersey paid her full salary in conformity with its employment policy. It is alleged these payments clearly arose from the employer-employee relationship; therefore the sole issue as to this portion of the appeal is whether the petitioner ...


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