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Watson v. Sam Knight Min. Lease

Supreme Court of Arizona

November 15, 1954

Edna Lorraine WATSON, a Widow, in the Matter of Morris Miller Watson, Deceased, Petitioner,
SAM KNIGHT MINING LEASE, Inc., Defendant Employer, and the Industrial Commission of Arizona, Defendant Insurance Carrier, Respondents.

[78 Ariz. 115] J. Hubert Smith, Phoenix, for petitioner.

Donald J. Morgan, Phoenix, for respondent, The Industrial Commission of Arizona.

John R. Franks, Robert E. Yount and Robert K. Park, Phoenix, of counsel.

LA PRADE, Justice.

Certiorari to the Arizona Industrial Commission.

By this proceeding we are asked to review an award of the Commission denying petitioner's claim for death benefits provided in the Workmen's Compensation Act. A.C.A.1939, § 56-901 et seq. The Commission, by its award, found that the deceased husband and employee had died July 1, 1953, 'as a result of acute heart failure due to heat exhaustion'-'not the result of an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.'

The facts leadings up to the death show that the decedent had been in his then employment several years as an employee above ground around the mine workings and mill at Winkleman, Arizona. During the forenoon of the day preceding death the decedent had worked in the mill crusher section. The day was referred to as very hot, 109 -110 , with very little humidity. After lunch Mr. Watson was told to get some sand and cement for a repair job in the mill. The sand was loaded by shovel from a hillside some 400 feet from the mill, by another employee. Watson acted in the capacity of truck driver-while sand was being loaded Watson made numerous trips to a water bucket located inside the machine[78 Ariz. 116] shop, a few feet distant. It appeared to one witness that the decedent was drinking an inordinate amount of water, although Watson did not disclose to anyone that he was not well, nor did his condition reveal itself to anyone present. On bringing the sand, gravel and cement the decedent mixed a 5-gallon can of dry sand and cement, out in the open. The mix was completed inside the mill by the addition of water without the aid of decedent. When the mixture was completed decedent grouted in three or four piers under some 'I' beams located inside the mill building. At

Page 537

4 o'clock (end of shift) deceased left for home. The employer reported that both he and Watson were sweating freely at the time the work was performed. On arrival at home Watson told his wife that the heat off the sand and cement had made him deathly sick. He immediately drank a glass of cold water, some lemonade and divided a can of cold beer with his wife. In addition he drank a glass of Alka Seltzer and later tried to drink some ginger ale. Throughout the evening and night he was in great pain, very restless, and continually wanting water which he could not keep down. A doctor was called but did not come although he prescribed some capsules which were taken and vomited up. With each seizure of pain he experienced cold sweats. Early next morning he was removed to the hospital at Globe, Arizona, a distance of sixty-three miles. On arrival at the hospital he was unconscious and in a state of shock 'apparently from congestive heart failure.' The attending physician could not feel or count his pulse or hear his heart through the stethoscope due to so much noise from his breathing. He did not respond to oxygen and heart stimulants and died approximately one hour and forty-five minutes after arrival at the hospital. The doctor's death certificate (printed form) report in part read:

[78 Ariz. 117] At a hearing conducted by the Commission the doctor testified in part as follows:

'Q. Do you have any opinion as to the exact cause of death from your examination and treatment? A. The cause was heart failure with pulmonary edema.

'Q. Did you come to any conclusions as to the cause of death other than it was heart trouble complicated by the pulmonary edema? A. Did I come to any conclusions?

'Q. Yes, sir. A. 'Not positive, no. I couldn't say positively what-she gave that history. It is possible that it had something to do with it; it is also possible that the treatment he administered had something to do with his condition getting worse.

'Q. You mean the hot bath and pills? A. Yes, ice water and beer and hot bath.

'Q. Would that tend to aggravate a heart condition in your opinion? A. The condition from heat exhaustion, yes.

'Q. Doctor, you did, I believe, as the attending physician, you prepared and signed the certificate of death, did you not? A. I must have signed the certificate of death, yes, sir.

'Q. And whatever is registered thereon is the conclusion ultimately at which you arrived as a result of the entire-- A. It is possible sometimes that there are contributory ...

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