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Reports of All Decisions Rendered in
Courts and in the State
Reports of all Decisions Rendered in Compensation Cases in the Federal
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
W. D. WASHINGTON, N. D.
MATSON NAV. CO. ET AL. (No. 3377.)*
RIGHT OF ACTION FOR WRONGFUL DEATH-CONSTRUC
TION OF WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION ACT.
The Workmen's Compensation Act as amended, after providing that injured workmen shall receive compensation in accordance with a schedule, provides that, “except as in this act otherwise provided, such payment shall be in lieu of any and all rights of action whatsoever against any person whomsoever." Section 3 of the act contains a proviso that, "if the injury to a workman occurring away from the plant of his employer is due to the negligence or wrong of another, not in the same employ, the injured workman, or, if death results from the injury, his widow, children or dependents, * shall elect whether to take under this act or seek a remedy against such other.” Plaintiff's son while in the employ of a boiler making company, was sent to make repairs on the machinery of a defendant's steamer, and while so engaged was fatally injured, as alleged in the complaint, through the negligence of an employee of defendant. While the word "plant,” as used in section 3 of the act, included, besides the premises of the employer, such appliances and tools as were regularly used in the conduct of the business, it could not be extended in favor of defendant to the vessel on which the deceased was working, where the injury was not due to any defect in such appliances or tools, that deceased was “away from the plant of his employer,” and that the action could be maintained under Rem. & Bal. Code Wash. Secs. 183. 194, giving a right of action for wrongful death.
At Law. Action by Louise Martin against the Matson Navigation Company, Miles R. Clarke, and Charles W. Snyder. On demurrers to complaint. Demurrer of defendant Snyder sustained. Demurrer of defendant company overruled.
Vanderveer & Cummings, of Seattle, Wash., for Plaintiffs.
Ballinger, Battle, Hulbert & Shorts, of Seattle, Wash., for Defendants Matson Nav. Co. and Snyder.
* Decision rendered, July 16, 1917. 244 Fed. Rep. 976.
NETERER, D. J. The plaintiff, mother of and a dependent upon William Brown, brings this action against the defendant corporation and Miles R. Clark and Charles W. Snyder, alleging that, through the negligence of the defendants, William Brown on the 3d day of March, 1916, while “employed by said Standard Boiler Works in making said repairs on said steamship Hyades,
and while he was engaged in putting certain bolts in the base of the engine in said steamship Hyades,
and had crawled down underneath the engines, condenser, and hotwell, a device employed in condensing steam into water for use in the boilers of said steamship Hyades, and while so employed, the defendant Miles R. Clarke, negligently and carelessly opened the valve controlling the flow of water in said hotwell and condenser in such a manner as to cause the same to overflow and flood the place where the said William Brown was engaged at his work,
and horribly burn and scald the body of said William Brown in such a manner that as the result thereof said William Brown died on the 5th day of March, 1916, at Seattle, Wash."
It is further alleged that the engines, boiler, and hotwell were under the supervision and control of the defendants Clarke and Snyder, and that it was the duty of said Clarke and Snyder to warn Brown of the danger, and that the danger was unknown to him and was known to them.
The cause was removed to this court from the state court, and motion to remand was denied, because the liability of the defendant Matson Navigation Company is under the doctrine of respondeat superior, and not by reason of any concurrent or wrongful act of the defendant company, and that it is affirmatively stated in the complaint that the injury was caused "by the defendant Miles R. Clark negligently and carelessly opening the valve controlling the flow of water in said hotwell and condenser in such a manner as to cause the same to overflow and flood the place where the said William Brown was engaged in his work,
etc., and that it was an act of commission on the part of Clarke, a servant, which was the cause of the injury, and not an act of ommission on the part of Snyder, a fellow servant of the person who committed the act, and that the defendant Snyder was not a proper party, and the record is conclusive that the defendant Clarke is a resident of California, upon whom no process had been served, and that there is a diversity of citizenship, and the right of removal therefore obtained as to the defendant company.
The defendant Snyder and the defendant company have filed separate demurrers challenging the sufficiency of the complaint. What was said by the court in denying the motion to remand is conclusive upon this issue, that the complaint does not state a cause of action against the defendant Snyder. The defendant company contends that no cause of action survives to the plaintiff by reason of section 5 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, as amended by chapter 148, Laws 1913, page 468, which provides :
“Each workman who shall be injured, whether upon the premises or at the plant, or, he being in the course of his employment, away from the plant of his employer, or his family or dependents in case of death of the workman, shall receive out of the accident fund compensation in accordance with the following schedule, and, except as in this act otherwise provided, such payment shall be in lieu of any and all rights of action whatsoever against any person whomsoever."
The contention is that the plaintiff's rights are concluded by the clause "except as in this act otherwise provided,” and that the right of action accruing to the plaintiff under sections 183 and 194, Remington & Ballinger's Code of Washington, is determined by the Workmen's Compensation Act, and that she does not come within any exception, because the death of Brown occurred at the plant of his employer. The position of the defendant as stated in its brief, is as follows:
“To us it seems beyond dispute that a workman engaged in an employment classified as hazardous under the act section 3] is not ‘away from the plant of his employer' when he is at the place of work where his employer directs him to be, or where by virtue of the character of the work, he must be to perform the work. That place may be upon the premises of his employer, but it is not ‘away from the plant of his employer.' The word 'plant,' as used in the act, is broad enough in meaning to include every place where the employee must be to carry on the work of his employer."
Emphasis is placed upon Meese vs. Northern Pacific Railway Co., 211 Fed. 254, 127 C. C. A. 622, decided by Judge Cushman, and it is insisted that is decisive of this case, and clearly determines that the terms "plant" and "premises” are not identical, and that it shows that the intent of the act was not to limit the application to real property boundaries. There can be no dispute as to the fact that "plant" and "premises." as used in the act are not synonymous.
"Premises" clearly refer to place and territory, and "plant," I think, might be said to include place and territory, together with the appliances and things which go to make up the facilities for the execution of the designs and purposes of the enterprise. There are many things which go to make up a "plant" which are not necessary to complete "premises.” A wire, a wrench, a file, a crowbar, a derrick, an elevator, engines, boilers, and all kinds of machinery and tools, etc., go to make up a "plant"; and these, when employed in a community sense, if that term may be applied to inanimate things, may be said to comprise the "plant. Work done upon a vessel might be done at the plant, but the fact that work on a vessel may be done at the plant I do not think would imply that all work done on a vessel could be