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Stanley v. Industrial Commission

Supreme Court of Arizona

December 22, 1952


Robert A. May and Ray Fisher Harris, of Tucson, for petitioner.

Robert E. Yount, H. S. McCluskey, and Robert W. Pickrell, of Phoenix, for respondent.

UDALL, Chief Justice.

This is an appeal by certiorari brought by Pearl J. Stanley, petitioner, to review an award of the Industrial Commission of Arizona dated June 4, 1952, denying her further compensation or accident benefits.

This matter is before us for the second time. The commission originally denied compensation because in its opinion petitioner did not sustain an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of her employment. We set aside this award in the case of Stanley v. Moan, 71 Ariz. 359, 227 P.2d 389, to which reference is made for a recitation of the facts. On receiving the mandate of this court the commission promptly assumed jurisdiction and petitioner, by virtue of subsequent awards, received accident benefits and the sum of $2,424.08 in compensation for total temporary disability for the period August 18, 1949

Page 639

through May 7, 1951. Further compensation was denied petitioner when the results of an examination by a medical advisory [75 Ariz. 32] board showed that there was no residual disability resulting from the accident.

In reviewing this award and finding we are guided by the well-settled rule that the findings of the commission are to be given the same consideration as those of a jury or trial judge. If there is reasonable evidence to support the award, or the facts are such that reasonable men might draw either of two inferences therefrom, then the findings of the commission must be affirmed. West Chandler Farms Co. v. Industrial Commission, 64 Ariz. 383, 173 P.2d 84; Eagle Indemnity Co. v. Hadley, 70 Ariz. 179, 218 P.2d 488.

The evidence upon which the commission's finding is based must be competent. In the case of Tashner v. Industrial Commission, 62 Ariz. 333, 157 P.2d 608, 610, wherein a medical advisory board reached a conclusion not supported by the medical history and findings, and which conclusion was the basis of the commission's decision, we stated:

'* * * The commission should, and must, give due weight and consideration to the opinion of the medical board, but it is not bound by its conclusions, particularly where the conclusions are wholly unsupported by the actual facts, or, as here, contrary to the medical history and findings. It is the medical findings rather than the conclusion which constitute evidence. Obviously, the conclusion or opinion which is counter to the actual facts or findings, and which on the face of the record is illogical and without support, cannot be treated as reasonable evidence.'

In the present case the petitioner was examined, in Phoenix, nearly 21 months after the accident and at the request of the commission, by a board of the following distinguished members of the medical profession, viz.: Drs. J. R. Schwartzmann, J. P. McNally, R. S. Haines, Richard E. H. Duisberg, and C. H. Gans. This board made physical, orthopedic, neurological, and psychiatric examination and had access to and reviewed the reports of other doctors, including gynecologists, who had treated or examined petitioner. The board also examined a series of X-rays, taken at different times, and the reports covering them. Separate findings under each of the listed categories were made with the board's conclusion as follows:

'This board fails to find any evidence of back, leg or other physical disability which could be attributed to the injury in question. We recognize that this patient is obese and hypertensive and at menopausal age, but these conditions are not an industrial responsibility and were not aggravated by the injury of 8-15-49.'

If the board's report, including this conclusion, may fairly be classed as reasonable evidence under the rule of the Tashner [75 Ariz. 33] case, quoted supra, then there is a conflict to be determined by the commission, for we assume for purposes of this review that petitioner's evidence, which consisted largely of statements made by Drs. Breck and Basom of El Paso, Texas, in regard to her physical disability, was sufficient to support a contrary finding.

Petitioner, whose injury and complaints were primarily orthopedic in nature, attacks the conclusion of the board (and therefore the award of the commission) as being contrary to and unsupported by the medical findings of the orthopedic and neurological examinations. The contention is that the conclusion reached is not predicated upon reasonable evidence for it is based, in part, on a false premise, i.e., she consciously motivated her behavior. In this attack, petitioner relies on two well-recognized rules of law for support:

(1) The value of an expert's opinion is dependent upon and is no stronger than the premises upon which it is predicated, and such an expert opinion has no probative force if any one of these premises is shown to be false.

(2) A mere guess or conjecture by an expert witness in the form of a conclusion from basic facts that do not tend ...

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