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Perkins v. Industrial Commission

Supreme Court of Arizona

February 21, 1956

Ella H. PERKINS, Petitioner,
v.
The INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION of Arizona and Family Service of Phaenix,Respondents.

[80 Ariz. 120] Lewis, Roca, Scoville & Beauchamp, Phoenix, for petitioner.

Robert K. Park, Phoenix, for respondent Industrial Commission of Arizona, John R. Franks, Donald. J. Morgan, and John F. Mills, Phoenix, of counsel.

WINDES, Justice.

Certiorari to the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Petitioner Ella H. Perkins sustained injuries arising out of and in the course of her employment on May 4, 1952, as a result of a collision involving an automobile in which she was a passenger. The impact cause the death of one person in petitioner's car and another passenger was severely injured. Petitioner sustained a cerebral concussion and was unconscious for approximately four hours following the collision. Her eye glasses were broken causing laceration downward from the corner of the right eye and resulting eventually in a one-inch scar. Petitioner was given emergency treatment at Memorial Hospital and thereafter was treated by Dr. Lee Ehrlich who filed attending physician's report with the commission as follows:

'Laceration lateral aspect right periorbital region and mulitiple contusions. Cerebral Concussion.'

Petitioner made application to the commission for benefits under the workmen's compensation act of Arizona. On March 5, 1953, the commission made findings and award that petitioner was entitled to accident benefits, was not entitled to compensation and had no physical disability resulting from the accident. Petitioner protested this award on the basis of the occurrence of a lump in the scar and the award was rescinded. After further medical examination of petitioner, the commission on August 5, 1953, again entered its findings and award for accident benefits which award became final.

On November 27, 1953, petitioner filed application to reopen her claim on the

Page 675

ground that examination of her eyes after the time of the final award showed that cataracts had developed which were the result of the injury sustained on May 4, 1952. This application was supported by a letter from Dr. Paul H. Case reciting that petitioner had cataracts present in each eye and it was his view they were caused by the accident. Pursuant to the suggestion of Dr. James R. Moore, its medical advisor, the commission appointed a board of three specialists, Dr. Case, Dr. Paul E. McFarland and Dr. H. J. French, to examine petitioner. Drs. Case and McFarland reported that in their opinion the cataracts were caused by the accident. Dr. French rendered a contrary report. Thereafter, the commission pursuant to the advice of its medical advisory board appointed another board to clarify the discrepancies in the opinions of the members of the first board. This second board consisted of Dr. R. L. Melton and Dr. O. W. Thoeny. These latter doctors reported that in their opinion [80 Ariz. 121] the cataracts were not due to the accident. On the basis of these reports the commission denied the application to reopen the claim. On application for rehearing, formal hearing was had and the commission on Spetember 24, 1954, entered an award affirming its denial to reopen the claim. From this award the petitioner brings certiorari.

The sole question presented is whether there is any substantial evidence to support the commission's finding that the present condition of petitioner's eyes, which is undisputed, is not attributable to the injury sustained by her on May 4, 1952.

The report of Drs. Case and McFarland recites as follows:

'It is our opinion that the cataracts were caused by the injury in May of 1952. The opinion is based upon the fact that the vision became blurred immediately after the accident. She must have had an accident of great force as evidenced by the fact that another occupant in the car was killed instantly. Also, our opinion is based on the fact that she has had by Dr. Ehrlich a very careful study of her general condition for a possible toxic condition or other conditions in her system which might account for the lens opacities. Nothing was found in her general condition to account for cataracts.

'We realize this is not a true traumatic cataract insofar as there is a trauma to the eyes but feel that due to the shakeup of the severe blow that there was a disturbance indirectly to the eyes causing a disturbed metabolism which resulted in her cataracts.'

The minority report of Dr. French states:

'Comment; The point is whether or not the injury Mrs. Perkins suffered is responsible for her lens pathology. In contusion cataracts there always remains tell-tale evidence long after the injury, for example:

'(1) Alterations of the pupil or iris, as (a) Traumatic mydriasis, (b) Rupture of the iris sphincter, or (c) Rupture of the ...


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