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Hudgens v. Industrial Commission

Supreme Court of Arizona

February 26, 1958

Oden HUDGENS, Petitioner,
v.
The INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION of Arizona and H. P. Adams, doing business as H. P. Adams Construction Company, Respondents.

Page 1040

Brandt & Baker, Yuma, for petitioner.

Robert K. Park, Phoenix, John R. Franks, Donald J. Morgan and James D. [83 Ariz. 384] Lester, Phoenix, of counsel, for respondent Industrial Commission.

PHELPS, Justice.

This is a review by certiorari of an award of the Industrial Commission which denied petitioner Oden Hudgens compensation for an injury on the ground that it did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. This court must herein determine whether petitioner sustained the burden of proving a causal connection between his employment and his injury in order to entitle him to compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, A.R.S. § 23-901 et seq.

On Friday, April 20, 1956, petitioner suffered a heart attack which his physician diagnosed as an acute coronary occlusion with myocardial infarction. On that day and the week preceding it petitioner worked alone as a carpenter to finish the construction of an office structure for the H. P. Adams Construction Company, his employer. Approximately three weeks later while petitioner recuperated in the hospital from the heart attack, he suffered a cerebral embolism which paralyzed his left arm and leg and affected his ability to speak such that he could not testify at the hearing before the Industrial Commission.

In order to establish a compensable claim petitioner must sustain the burden of proving a recognizable causal connection between his employment and the accidental injury, or more specifically in a case such as this, he must sustain the burden of proving that the exertion of his job precipitated the heart attack. See Jones v. Industrial Commission, 81 Ariz. 352, 306 P.2d 277. This fact must be the only possible inference drawable from the evidence in order for us to set aside the award denying compensation. Gronowski v. Industrial Commission, 81 Ariz. 363, 306 P.2d 285. Thus we must scrutinize the evidence to determine whether it satisfies this requisite.

Because petitioner was working alone, he alone knew what strenuous activity, if any, preceded the heart attack, but his condition made it impossible for him to testify concerning his activity preceding the attack. Thus he must rely upon circumstantial and hearsay evidence to sustain his burden of establishing that he engaged in strenuous activity prior to the heart attack. He may rely upon circumstantial evidence, Martin v. Industrial Commission, 73 Ariz. 401, 242 P.2d 286, and the Commission may properly admit hearsay evidence, Kelsey v. Industrial Commission, 79 Ariz. 191, 286 P.2d 195.

Dr. Williamson, the doctor who treated petitioner following the attack and the only medical witness before the Commission, testified as follows concerning a

Page 1041

conversation with petitioner in the emergency[83 Ariz. 385] room of the hospital at about 4:30 in the afternoon of April 20, 1956:

'Q. Now, at that time did you interview him and take down a history of his life, medical history? Did you have any conversation with him in regard to his symptoms? A. Yes, inquiring as to what transpired, as to how the attack came on, where he was and what he was doing.

'Q. What did he say with that regard? A. He said he was working alone in this building and that he had been lifting some, I think he said, heavy door jambs and had just put one in place when he got this terrific pain in his chest.

'Q. Did he say what time of day that happened? A. Not exactly, no. I don't remember as to the time of day.

'Q. Did he say door jamb or door? A. To my knowledge it was something to do with door jambs. Whether it was specific doors or door jambs, I will not say, but to ...


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