Gaulkin, Collester and Labrecque. Gaulkin, S.j.a.d. (dissenting).
In this workmen's compensation heart fatality case both the Division of Workmen's Compensation and the County Court judge, in a de novo review, found that the decedent's death was causally related to his work effort. We conclude that the findings of the County Court could reasonably have been reached on sufficient credible evidence present in the record, considering the proofs as a whole. Close v. Kordulak Bros. , 44 N.J. 589, 599 (1965).
GAULKIN, S.J.A.D. (dissenting): Perhaps some day death benefits will be paid to dependents of all workers. I would be in favor of that, especially when the worker has worked for years for one employer, as decedent did here. But
that is not yet the law. Therefore, I had hoped that Close v. Kordulak Bros. , 44 N.J. 589 (1965) would enable me to concur. However, a study of the record, and particularly the testimony of petitioner's Dr. Goodman, forces me to the conclusion that the award is not supported by the evidence, however liberally that evidence is considered.
Decedent was 56 years old, overweight, five foot seven and weighing 215 to 225 pounds. In 1953-1954 he had been under the care of a doctor for diabetes, but there is no evidence that thereafter, and until August 13, 1967, when he died, he had any medical attention for this or any other condition. His wife stated that he dieted. However, she testified that he had a good appetite, and apparently he was accustomed to eating large meals, for she testified that on the evening of his death she had prepared for his dinner chicken soup, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, lettuce and tomatoes, corn on the cob and coffee.
On the day of his death he worked from 7 A.M. until 3:30 P.M. with no complaint or sign of distress. He had been on vacation for the month of July. At about 3:45 P.M. he went home with fellow employees in a car pool in which he rode as a passenger. The fellow employees testified that during the 36 mile drive to his home he exhibited no signs of illness and made no complaint; on the contrary, he "was kidding" one of his companions "about the Yankees" because the companion was a Yankee fan. He arrived home about 4:45 P.M. and died nearly 5 hours later.
Dr. Goodman testified that he died of a coronary thrombosis or a coronary occlusion caused by (1) physical exertion (2) emotional strain and (3) extreme heat. In answer to a hypothetical question, he said:
"In this particular individual I feel * * * there was sufficient strain and effort of a physical nature, and as [ sic ] a strain placed on him by his environment, and possibly, from what you have told me on the emotional aspects, such that he did develop increased heart rate, blood pressure, broke off the plaque and had his infarction.
Now, when these events occur in an individual symptoms or signs arise. The first one, of course, is severe chest pain which -- I'm
sorry, I should say chest pain which may or may not be very severe; shortness of breath; sweating; pallor; general malaise or weakness, a fall in ...