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Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. v. Industrial Commission of Arizona

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 8, 1931


Original proceeding for Writ of Certiorari to The Industrial Commission of Arizona, on application of insurance carrier. Award affirmed.

Messrs. Conner & Jones, for Petitioner.

Mr. Terrence A. Carson (Mr. Charles Blenman, of Counsel), for Respondents.


[38 Ariz. 308] ROSS, J.

This case grows out of a claim by Carrie M. Kronnick against the Santa Rita Hotel Company, of Tucson, employer, and the Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company, insurance carrier, for compensation for the death of her husband, Frank S. Kronnick, caused, as claimed, by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. The insurance carrier, being dissatisfied with the award made by the Industrial Commission, brings the case here, contending the commission's finding to the effect that Kronnick's death was proximately caused by the accident is not supported by the evidence, is contrary to the evidence, is founded on mere speculation, surmise, and possibilities. This is the sole question.

[38 Ariz. 309] That Kronnick suffered an accident and severe injuries is not disputed, nor is it questioned that, if the evidence showed he died by reason of such injuries, or that they contributed thereto, the claimant is entitled to death benefits.

By a post-mortem it was discovered that Kronnick had a diseased heart, and it is contended he died solely by reason of such diseased condition, and that the injuries did not cause or contribute to his death.

On June 18, 1930, while Kronnick was engaged in making some alterations in his employer's

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hotel building, he fell from a scaffolding to the cement flooring, and sustained a severe comminuted fracture of his right heel bone and a simple fracture of the right crest of the pelvis. At the time he was sixty-two years of age. He was a very healthy man; had never been subject to any ailment, disease, illness, weakness, infirmity or disability, except about one year before he had gotten something in his eye and called a doctor to treat it. Beyond that, says his wife, during the thirty-seven years of their married life, he had never to her knowledge been attended by a physician until this accident.

Dr. G. W. Purcell attended Kronnick from the time of his injury until he died on July 3, 1930, and it is largely upon his testimony the insurance carrier relies to establish its claim that death was not the result of the fall but solely from a diseased heart. This witness stated that he was called immediately after Kronnick was hurt; that he sent him to Mercy Hospital; that he gave him the ordinary ad usual treatment in such cases; that his improvement was good, and his condition generally good, except that he had a couple of days after the injury taken a cold and had fever; that the fever disappeared, but his lungs were congested right along; that he was permitted to be up in a wheel-chair on the tenth day; that later [38 Ariz. 310] he was allowed to go around in his room on crutches. He said fever was naturally to be expected from an injury such as Kronnick's; that it came from the absorption of "serum created as a result of the injury, and also from the bronchitis that he had"; that fever predisposed a patient to pneumonia, and affected the functioning of the heart. Explaining the circumstances of Kronnick's death, the witness said that during the morning of July 3d he (Kronnick) went to the bathroom, and the nurses, hearing a noise, went to him; that they "found him in a fainting condition, with his hand grasped up here on the heart, complaining of severe pain and cold sweat . . . a severe diarrhea set in about that time and he had a severe pain at the left of the heart." He was taken to his room, and before the doctor arrived he was dead.

This witness was present at the post-mortem, and, when asked what in his opinion, based upon his knowledge of the case and the findings at the post-mortem, caused the death of Mr. Kronnick, answered:

"Well, I believe he died of a -- what we might call a heart death. An occlusion and thrombosis of the left coronary artery. . . .

"Well, he had a sclerosis of the coronary artery and a chronic inflammation of the heart muscles, with a chronic inflammation of the aorta and he also had an occlusion of the heart which was caused by stoppage in the flow of ...

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