Denaby Compensation Case – Conflict of Medical Evidence.

June 1901

Mexborough and Swinton Times, June 28.

A Denaby Compensation Case.


Conflict of Medical Evidence.

Sitting at the Doncaster County on Friday last week, his Honour Judge Masterman, had before him an important application respecting a claim for compensation, which has been before the court on two or three previous occasions.

The applicant was a labourer, named Thomas Stanley, now of 14, Blythe Street, New Conisborough, and the respondents were the Denaby and Cadeby Collieries Ltd. Stanley is a member of the National Amalgamated Union of Labour, and his society have taken up his case.

He was represented by Mr A Muir Wilson, solicitor, Sheffield and Mr J Bailey, the Sheffield district secretary for the National Amalgamated Union, was in court during the hearing. Mr T.E.Alison, barrister, Sheffield (instructed by Messrs Bescoby and Williamson, Retford) appeared for the respondent company.

It was stated on behalf of Stanley that the application was for arbitration under the Workmen’s Conversation Act, with respect to an increase of the weekly payment to the applicant under an order of the court against the respondents.

The applicant Stanley was working in respondents service on the 20th April 1900 at their Coke ovens. He was engaged in shunting strokes, and whilst unemployed. He was pinned between two trucks and crush, with the result that three of his ribs were broken and his chest was badly crushed.

The applicant commenced proceedings under the act in October 1900 and claim that he was partially incapacitated permanently, and sought an order for the weekly payment to him by the respondents of half his average wages.

A declaration of the respondents liability to pay such compensation was made by the court on 15 November, 1900. On the 29 November 1900, the respondents filed an application in court to have the declaration of liability terminated, on the ground that the illness which the applicant alleged he was suffering from was not caused by the accident, and that he had recovered completely from any injuries he had sustained by reason of the accident. This application was duly heard on 14 March, and dismissed with costs so that the applicant was still entitled to benefit under the declaration of liability. In April the respondents refuse to make any payments to the applicant under the order, and the acting, on 15 May filed an application to enforce payment of the weekly compensation.

The respondents filed an answer to this, setting up again the allegation that the applicant is not suffering from a result of the accident, which occurred to him, and that his illness is due to some other cause quite independent of it which was the question which was now before his Honour to decide.

Mr Muir Wilson, in opening the case for the applicant, said that at the time of the accident. Stanley’s wages were 22/6 a week, so that under the statue he was entitled to 11/3 a week. The full amount of conversation was pray for some time and on the Fifties November last year the respondent consented to an order as in the case of Chandler v Smith. It was an order of declaration of liability, and no sum was mention because the respondents were painful compensation. When the application was made to rescind the declaration liability His Honour refused, saying, “There is the declaration, and there it must remain.”

The applicant being in possession of his order, and there being a change in circumstances, namely, the refusal to pay, now came to court, and asked for an order for the payment of 11/3 a week, from 18 April 1901, when the respondents ceased to pay.

As to the answer filed by the respondents concerning the physical condition of the applicant, Mr Muir Wilson, said the medical evidence he will produce evidence to satisfy His Honour that the man’s condition from whatever cause, was the same as it was in November last year, when the declaration of liability was made. The applicant and a discharge from his body, which might have arisen from a tuberculosis infection of the lungs or from the accident. If the evidence in regard to that point was evenly balanced, Mr Muir Wilson asked His Honour to say that was a win for him.

Mr Ellison remarked that the rule under which the application was made was that any weekly payment might be reviewed at the request of the employer or work man. In November the employer made application to review the order that had been made, and on that occasion Mr Muir Wilson contended that the Court had no jurisdiction to do that, because there was no weekly payment.

Mr Muir Wilson said he did not contend anything of the kind.

Mr Ellison submitted that the court had no jurisdiction to review a weekly payment, as no weekly payment had been made under the order of declaration of liability.

Mr Muir Wilson replied that the declaration of liability was to preserve the man’s right.

His Honour held that he had jurisdiction to review the order.

Mr Ellison then said the question was whether the applicant was incapacitated on 18 April and by the accident in May 1900. By the accident three ribs were broken on the left side. There are no doubts that the applicant was now suffering from some pulmonary affection on the other side. He had been examine, by a number of medical men who said his present complaint had nothing whatsoever to do with the accident.

Mr Muir Wilson: Not all; mine don’t.

Mr Ellison continuing said it certainly struck one as how a fracture of the ribs upon one side could possibly affect the lung on the other side, especially as the lung was not affected on the same side. The long on the same side as a fractured ribs was never touched. What the man was suffering from now was pathesis of the long on the other side.

His Honour said if at any time was clearly proves that incapacity was consequent upon the accident the declaration of liability remained on the file and the company were liable for the result of the actions.

Mr Ellison coal Dr C.S.Blythman, of Swinton.

His Honour here asked: Is not this just a case that ought to go to medical referee, or ought I to take the evidence first?

Mr Ellison said the evidence had to be taken first because copies of the evidence had to be signed by the witnesses, and sent to the medical referee.

Dr C.S.Blythman, practising at Swinton, said yet examined applicant Stanley and founder suffering from an affection of the right side of the chest. That was all six of December. The witness had been told that Stanley at three ribs broken on the left side, and at that time. They were quite firm. He could find nothing whatever wrong on the side where the ribs had been broken. After describing in detail the condition of the long on the right side, the witness said that in his opinion the applicant was incapacitated from work on 6 December, which is incapacity had no relation to the accident. The witness gave particulars of other examinations he had made, still expressing the same opinion.

In cross-examination the witness said the man was now suffering from the results of pleurisy, compression of the lungs, enlarged glands, and general debility. He was afraid the applicant was subject to cancer.

Mr Muir Wilson: What has caused that?

The witness: The natural tendency of propagation by his ancestors.

Not in any way hastened by this crush? – I would not say that.

The accident has nothing to do with his present condition? – I suppose by lowering his vitality it might be so

Have you said he was suffering from chronic phthisis ? – No.

His Honour remarked that he could not quite understand how a man could be crushed without injury to both sides.

The witness stated that he examine the applicant in consultation with Dr Dyson and Dr Sinclair White. The applicant had been to Sheffield Infirmary, and had been under treatment. There.

Dr Cocking, honorary physician to the Sheffield Infirmary, gave evidence as to the man’s condition, corroborating Dr Blythman on most points.

Mr Muir Wilson asked how long, in the opinion of the witness, the applicant had been affected.

The witness replied that he thought from the condition of his kidneys his complaint would be of some year´s duration.

Do the accent in anyway precipitate what he is now suffering from?

It did not precipitate the condition of the kidneys.

That is hardly an answer? – I do not think it did.

Dr Manton, of Sheffield, gave evidence in support of the application, stating that the man was suffering from the effects of the accident. He would hesitate extremely to say the applicant was suffering from cancer, and there was certainly no enlarged glands under the armpit. He thought what he found in the man’s condition was consistent with having been crushed between the buffers of two trucks.

Mr Muir Wilson: you don’t suggest phthisis, do you Mr Ellison?

Mr Ellison: I am not giving evidence in this case. (Laughter.)

Thomas Stanley, the applicant, said that prior to the accident. He was in good health. He explained how he had got crushed between two trucks, and said that in addition to being injured on the left side. He had a mark on the right side. He earned one pound a week, with 2/6 percentage, making his weekly wage 22/6.

Mr Ellison: according to our books it was £1 0s 2d.

Mr Wilson: Very well, I will accept that; it is 10/1 a week.

His Honour said he had come to the conclusion that the condition of the applicant was attributable to the accident, and therefore he found he was entitled to 10/1 a week from the date of the accident, but credit must be given for all payments made, in the meantime. Costs will be allowed to applicant under the “B” scale

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