1916 court: Hotel worker claims for old injury to arm

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Some curious facts were detailed by Mr B Pearlman, solicitor, of Hull, who appeared in a compensation case at the Scarborough County Court, on behalf of Millian Billington (now married), formerly Millian Worthington, of 5 Well Lane, Willerby, near Hull.

She was an assistant in an office at the Cambridge Hotel, and on 10 September, 1913, she met with an accident at the hotel. She was carrying two vases and tripping over a carpet cut her right arm. She sued the executors of GS Nesfield, of Scarborough.

Mr Pearlman said the claim was for 12s 6d per week. The case was full of perplexities and difficulties, legal and practical, because of the fact two or three weeks after the accident, she leftth respondents’ employment, and no compensation claim was made or paid, and no notice of the accident was given. She went to the Great Central Railway Company, and was married in May of last year. She married a soldier and was receiving separation allowance of 12s 6d a week.

The peculiar part of the matter was that four months after the accident she experienced a good deal of pain and consulted a doctor near Dewsbury. He said she had cramp in the arm. She did the best she could until quite recently she had further pain and on expert advice in Hull an operation was suggested. Two pieces of glass (produced) were taken out of the arm, and these had been there since the accident occurred.

A point which might arise was as to how much was due to the accident, or how much to medical men leaving the glass in. Under the circumstances he thought it well to advise the applicant to accept a settlement. Negotiations with the insurance company opened, £10 being offered, and now an offer of £50 had been made by the representatives at Hull, with £12 12s agreed costs to cover all the disbursements. It would be at least six months before it was known whether the operation would be as successful as it was hoped it would be. The sum would cover practically two years – he did not think they could claim more than £1 a week.

The judge thought the offer was reasonable. Mr Pearlman: “Under the circumstances I think they have behaved generously.”

The judge said the incident of the glass was very peculiar.

Mr Pearlman: “I have never had a case like it.”

The judge suggested that the £50 remain in court until it was seen whether an approved society had any claim.

Applicant desired to have the money.

The judge: “What is she going to do with it?”

Mr Pearlman: “I don’t know – do you ever know what a lady is going to do with money?”(Laughter)

Applicant, through her solicitor, said when her husband returned she was going to furnish a house.

The judge: “Yes, it had better stay in court until her husband does return. She has the allowance now.”

Applicant said she had 12s 6d a week but it was not enough to keep her.

The judge said were it not for those unfortunate pieces of glass she might be working.

Ultimately the judge allowed, on the suggestion of Mr Pearlman, £10 to be paid to applicant, and £40 to be invested in the Post Office Savings Bank.

The judge: “Perhaps he (the husband) will return with the VC.”

Mr Pearlman: “I think it would all be spent in celebrations then.” (laughter)