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Egelston v. Industrial Commission of Arizona

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 27, 1938

LURA EGELSTON, Petitioner
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF ARIZONA, Defendant Insurance Carrier, J. NEY MILES, SAM PROCTOR and L. C. HOLMES, as Members of the Industrial Commission of Arizona, and SEARS ROEBUCK & COMPANY, Defendant Employer, Respondents

APPEAL by Certiorari from an award of the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Award affirmed.

Mr. Burt H. Clingan, for Petitioner.

Mr. Don C. Babbitt and Mr. Howard A. Twitty, for Respondents.

OPINION

[52 Ariz. 277] LOCKWOOD, J.

Lura Egelston, hereinafter called petitioner, received an injury from an accident arising out of and in course of her employment. She presented a claim to the Industrial Commission of Arizona, hereinafter called the commission, for compensation for such injury, and the commission on March 13, 1937 found she was temporarily disabled from September 20, 1936, to March 10, 1937, entitling her to compensation in the sum of $256.28, which was duly paid her but that the evidence was insufficient to establish that any disability which she might have suffered subsequent to March 10, 1937, was proximately the result of a compensable accident, and denied her [52 Ariz. 278] further compensation. Petitioner asked for, and was granted, a rehearing, at which time the award of March 13th was affirmed, and the matter was brought before us for review.

The injury for which petitioner received compensation was a blow on the front part of the head, caused by the falling of a cash carrier from a height of some twenty feet in the store in which she was employed. It is her contention that ever since such time, and for long after the commission denied her compensation, she has been, and is, in such a condition, as a result of the injury, that she is totally disabled from carrying on any gainful occupation. The finding of the commission is that, if such a condition exists, it is not due to the accident and injury resulting therefrom.

The question then is whether petitioner has sustained the burden placed upon her by law of establishing that her present condition is the result of the injury. She has been examined by at least seven or eight highly skilled and reputable physicians in the city of Phoenix. They all agree that her objective physical condition, with possibly one exception to which we shall refer hereafter, is practically

Page 690

normal so far as can be determined by any and all of the known medical tests. They also agree that if her statement of her subjective condition is a correct one, that she is totally disabled from work. With one exception, all of the physicians are of the opinion that her present condition, assuming it to exist as she states it is, is purely psychogenic in its origin. Some of them are of the opinion that it is entirely disassociated from the traumatic accident above referred to. Others are of the opinion that it is indirectly caused by the accident. As expressed by one of the physicians who holds this view:

"This woman suffered an injury and about the same time was in a highly nervous state due to family difficulties [52 Ariz. 279] and in my opinion this has brought on what might be a nervous break-down, the injury being merely the fuse which set off the dynamite. In my opinion the entire symptoms complained of are psychogenic in origin."

One alone of all the examining physicians, Dr. Saxe, found any objective physical condition which would indicate that her subjective symptoms were the result of the traumatic injury. He stated that he caused an encephalogram to be made of her brain, and that he was of the opinion therefrom,

"... there was a slight deviation of the left ventricle toward the right side, with more encroachment of the roof or the vault on the left side than on the right,"

and stated in view of the history of the case he believed that her subjective symptoms were caused by the displacement above referred to, which in its turn was probably the result of the traumatic injury. He also stated that with the history of the trauma and her statements in regard to her symptoms before him, aside from the encephalogram, he would be inclined to think the trauma had some bearing at least on her condition and was sufficient to account for it. The encephalogram taken by the witness was submitted to Dr. Watkins of the medical rating board, who is one of the state's leading specialists in roentgenology, and he made the following report:

"Following the removal of spinal fluid an introduction of 60 cc. of air. Air covers the surface of the brain, but not sufficiently to separate brain density from cranium, sulci are plainly shown. Ventricles are outlined by symmetrical shadows of normal appearance. ...


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