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Roberts v. United States Steel Corp.

Decided: November 26, 1973.

EUGENE ROBERTS, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, FAIRLESS WORKS, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Carton, Seidman and Goldmann. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, J.A.D., Temporarily Assigned.

Goldmann

[125 NJSuper Page 481] Respondent Fairless Works appeals from an award in the Workmen's

Compensation Division granting petitioner 25% of partial total for loss of the right eye plus 7 1/2% for neuropsychiatric disability. It contends that the compensation judge's determination that the Division had jurisdiction over the employer-employee relationship was erroneous and should be reversed, and that his finding of causal relationship is not supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record.

As to the latter point, we have examined the testimony of the medical experts, as well as that of petitioner and of his witnesses, and find sufficient credible evidence in the whole of the record, giving due regard to the expertise of the compensation judge and his opportunity to assess credibility, to support the result.

Determination of the jurisdictional question requires some reference to the factual background. Petitioner was initially employed by the American Bridge Division of United States Steel Corporation (ABD) in June 1963 and worked there as a grinder until he was laid off in November 1963. ABD is located in Trenton, New Jersey.

During the layoff petitioner went looking for a job and learned from two men at ABD that the Fairless Works, located in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, was hiring men. He went there on January 24, 1964 and applied for a job, mentioning that he had worked at ABD in Trenton. Responding to a telegram from Fairless, petitioner went to the Fairless plant on January 30 and was interviewed by a Mr. Starling. Petitioner testified that Starling asked if he would like to work at Fairless and was "willing to transfer." When he answered that he would he was told he would have to sign transfer papers. Starling went on to explain that petitioner would lose job seniority but would retain his pension and vacation rights accrued while at ABD. Petitioner then signed certain required forms and began working a day or two later as a laborer.

Fairless called its Supervisor of Employment Placement and Employee's Services, Edwards, as a witness. He gave the following testimony on direct examination:

Q. Was Mr. Roberts at the time of his hire a transfer from American Bridge Division?

A. Yes, he was.

Q. What were the terms of that transfer from American Bridge?

A. That he transferred to Fairless Works as a full time permanent employee and he relinquished permanently any recall or seniority rights that he may have had at American Bridge Plant, Trenton.

He went on to distinguish petitioner from a newly hired employee; the difference, he said, was that petitioner, at the time he started to work at Fairless, had "continuous service by virtue of his having worked at American Bridge Plant, Trenton, for both pension and vacation purposes." These rights accrued to petitioner by virtue of a labor agreement between respondent and the United Steel Workers of America. Edwards further testified that Exhibit R-1 was a form filled out by every transferee, and that layoffs from one plant are given preference in rehiring at another plant ...


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