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FIREMAN'S FUND INDEMNITY COMPANY et al. v. MOODY.
37794.
Workmen's compensation. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Pharr. April 20, 1959.
FELTON, Chief Judge.
There is some evidence to support the award of the board and the decision of the court must be affirmed.
Comer E. Moody filed his claim before the State Board of Workmen's Compensation alleging that he sustained an injury to his right eye on January 12, 1957, and that said injury arose out of and in the course of his employment with the defendant, Jewish Progressive Club, which, with its carrier, is now plaintiff in error. A hearing was held before the deputy director who rendered an award granting compensation to the claimant for total loss of vision of his right eye. The findings of the deputy director in germane portion are as follows: "I find from the evidence that on January 12, 1957, claimant was putting a new bottom in a walk-in box cooler, and in the process of welding some small places he had previously missed, he got too close to the material and his welding torch went out. That he knocked his protective goggles up, reached for a lighter to relight the flame, and an explosion occurred. That the escaping gas in the small area in which he was working, exploded when he relit the torch. That the resultant explosion hit him in the face, and for two or three hours he could see only blue spots. That claimant reported the accident immediately to the bookkeeper and manager. That the accident occurred on Saturday, and later that night, claimant began to have a terrific headache and his eyes began to swell. That on Monday he reported to the company doctor -- Dr. M. B. Taranto -- who washed out his eyes and treated them with drops and a salve. That on Wednesday when he reported to the doctor he was beginning to see two objects. That on this visit Dr. Taranto sent claimant to a Dr. Gershen for examination and treatment. That Dr. Gershen treated claimant for several weeks and then sent him to Dr. William Smith, who in turn sent him to Dr. William Smith, Jr. That claimant was also seen and/or examined by several other doctors. That he began going to doctors recommended to him by other people in an effort to remedy his condition. That his eyes were protruding and the double vision continued. That he even submitted to an exploratory eye operation and some type of head operation, the details of which are not available, since the doctors did not testify. That claimant has worn a patch over his right eye since January of 1957, since the blocking off of the eye prevents the double vision. I find further that the medical testimony is of little value in one respect, in that none of the
three doctors who testified had been able to find the cause of claimant's condition. They all were of the opinion claimant has a serious eye condition -- but the cause, no one can state. That probable causes have been ruled out by tests, examinations and operations, which only leave a wide area of possibilities and speculation. That the doctors have expended every effort to relieve this man, there can be no doubt. That in the opinion of Dr. Gregory Flynn and Dr. William Smith, Jr., the accident of January 12, 1957, was not related to the condition claimant now suffers. Dr. W. L. Broom, while not able to find the cause of the eye protrusion or double vision, stated he had exhausted medical literature to find the answer, that the claimant's condition is something rare. However, Dr. Bloom would not testify the explosion did not cause or trigger claimant's condition, since it started at that time, and history it always included in the examination of any patient. I find further for all practical purposes, claimant has reached maximum improvement. I find further that it was brought out that welders are supposed to wear goggles or glasses while they are welding and that claimant had 'knocked up' his goggles when he relit the torch. That claimant's explanation was that this is a common practice among welders, and his instructor never wore goggles at any time. I find further that while medically speaking, the cause of claimant's disability cannot be found, the fact still remains that claimant worked regularly prior to January 12, 1957, as a welder; that although he wore glasses, he had no eye trouble; that he did not have double vision; and that he did not have swelling and redness in his eye. That since that date he has been afflicted, and to be relieved of the double vision he must constantly wear a patch over his right eye. That for industrial purposes, claimant has therefore lost total vision of the right eye. I find that the accident and injury arose out of and in the course of Moody's employment with Jewish Progressive Club. I find therefore, claimant has total loss of vision in his right eye and is entitled to compensation."
The claimant was awarded compensation for loss of use of his right eye due to "double vision" which necessitates the wearing of an eye patch at almost all times. This condition first became apparent four days after a welding torch exploded in his face during the course of his employment. Medical testimony as to its cause is conflicting and the deputy director found that "medically speaking, the cause of claimant's disability cannot be found."
In workmen's compensation cases, the trier of fact must take the evidence of medical experts along with all the other facts and circumstances of the case and thus determine the ultimate issue. Autry v. General Motors &c. Plant, 85 Ga. App. 500 (69 S. E. 2d 697); Blanchard v. Savannah River Lumber Co., 40 Ga. App. 416, 424 (149 S. E. 793).
The facts in this case make it closely analogous to Lockheed Aircraft Corp. v. Marks, 88 Ga. App. 167, 173 (76 S. E. 2d 507), where the majority of this court said: "Although the medical testimony was to the effect that there is no known connection between a fall, which was hard enough to shatter both heel bones, and the fatal disease of thrombocytic acroangiothrombosis, it was also stated that the cause of this disease is unknown. Then, where the cause of the disease from which the deceased employee died is not known by the medical profession, and where it is not known whether there is any connection between such a fall as Marks sustained and such disease, could not a fact-finding body reasonably and properly conclude from the facts and circumstances of this case, as disclosed by the evidence, that the deceased employee's death was the result of the accidental fall which crushed his heels? We think so."
In Employers Liability Assurance Corp. v. Yates, 64 Ga. App. 633, 637 (13 S. E. 2d 718) the evidence was held sufficient by the majority to sustain an award of compensation where it showed that "prior to the accidental injury claimant worked regularly and was apparently in good health; that immediately following the accident she became disabled and was out of work for about a week, complaining of pain in her right side; that she then went back to work and worked for several weeks, but during this time was still suffering from pain in the region of her right hip; that she then stopped work and shortly thereafter had a miscarriage; that since the miscarriage occurred claimant has gradually gotten worse, the pain in the region of her right hip and right leg having increased, which now causes her to walk with a decided limp."
In the instant case the evidence supports the finding that, medically speaking, the cause of the claimant's disability cannot be found. This being true, the claimant's testimony that he had never suffered from "double vision" prior to the accident in question, that four days thereafter he first became thus afflicted and his condition continued to worsen over a period of time, is some evidence to support the award of the board, and the decision of the court must be affirmed.
Judgment affirmed. Quillian and Nichols, JJ., concur.
Hewlett, Hewlett & Wall, Alford Wall, contra.
Smith, Field, Doremus & Ringel, Richard D. Carr, Charles L. Drew, for plaintiffs in error.
DECIDED OCTOBER 21, 1959 -- REHEARING DENIED NOVEMBER 17, 1959.
Saturday May 23 00:39 EDT


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