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Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Industrial Commission

Supreme Court of Arizona

January 23, 1950

SEARS, ROEBUCK & CO.
v.
INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION et al.; HARRIS
v.
SEARS, ROEBUCK & CO. et al

Award set aside.

Fennemore, Craig, Allen & Bledsoe, of Phoenix, for petitioner.

Robert E. Yount, of Phoenix, (H. S. McCluskey, and Donald J. Morgan, of Phoenix, of counsel), for respondents, Industrial Commission.

Kramer, Morrison, Roche & Perry, Clark & Coker, and J. S. Riggs, of Phoenix, for respondent Helen Harris.

Udall, Justice. La Prade, C. J., and Stanford, Phelps and De Concini, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Udall, Justice.

[69 Ariz. 321] Petitioner Sears, Roebuck & Co., the employer (hereinafter called Sears), brings before us for review an award of the Industrial Commission of Arizona, dated July 29, 1948, allowing Helen Harris, one of its employees, accident benefits in the [69 Ariz. 322] sum of $ 7,431.13 and compensation of $ 1,646.16 now due, plus the additional sum of $ 3.61 per day to continue during applicant's disability. Sears is a self-insurer, qualifying under the provisions of subsection 3, section 56-932, A.C.A.1939.

This case, which represents a unique situation in the administration of the workmen's compensation law, requires a detailing of the various steps taken by the commission, together with the facts presented by the record and which were before the commission when the award was entered.

Page 673

The applicant, Miss Helen Harris, age 40 years, had been an employee of Sears at its Phoenix establishment for some years prior to June 5, 1945, and at that time was a receiving clerk with her place of employment located in an office on the shipping and receiving platform at the rear of the employer's establishment. Upon reporting for work at approximately 8:00 a. m. of the day referred to, applicant was admitted to her office by a fellow employee. She secured from the office her working garments and then proceeded to the service room where she changed her clothes. She then returned to her office for the purpose of undertaking her duties for the day. Very shortly thereafter a fellow employee discovered her lying on the floor of the office with her head in a pool of blood, her false teeth and glasses lying on the floor in near proximity to her body. She was immediately removed to the shipping room, an ambulance was called, and applicant was then taken in an unconscious condition to Saint Monica's Hospital in Phoenix. There was no eye witness to the accident.

Dr. Barfoot, the company's physician, was first called in attendance and treated her for a scalp laceration and an abrasion and tenderness in the region of her left shoulder. Thereafter, that same day, Dr. Frank J. Milloy, her personal physician, was summoned at her request and she was placed under his care. Applicant remained in the hospital for approximately a week, was then removed to her home where she convalesced for a period of nine weeks. During confinement in the hospital, Miss Harris was visited by a Miss Goodfellow, personnel manager of Sears, who assured her that she had nothing to worry about; that her hospitalization expense, etc., would be taken care of by the company and she could return to work whenever she was able. It appears that Sears protects its employees in cases of nonindustrial accidents under a general health and accident coverage. From this source applicant was compensated during the ten weeks sick leave period and all hospital bills paid. In the latter part of August, 1945, due to economic necessity, applicant returned to her employment (even though she continued to suffer pains in her back and recurring headaches) and proceeded to carry out her duties in an efficient manner until May 2, 1946.

[69 Ariz. 323] This first fall, the incident of June 5, 1945, was not then considered by any of the parties as an industrial accident, but rather an injury from a fall caused by a fainting or dizzy spell, hence no report was made to the Industrial Commission by the applicant, her employer, or either of the two doctors who attended her. More about this anon.

On May 2, 1946, while commencing to cross North Second Street in the city of Phoenix, in proceeding from one place of her employer's business to another, the applicant fainted and in falling backwards struck her head upon the westerly curb of North Second Street. She was rendered unconscious and a fellow employee, with whom she had started her journey, came to her assistance. An ambulance was ordered and applicant was again transferred to Saint Monica's Hospital where she was ...


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