Blood poisoning from Scarborough Rock

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1914 Police Court

Today at the Scarborough County Court, before Judge Lock, an interesting compensation case claim was heard.

Applicant was James 
Alfred Grinson, of 17, Rodger Street, Dewsbury, and 
respondent Harold Rowe, 75, Eastborough, Scarborough, confectioner.

The claim was in consequence of an injury alleged to have been caused by an accident on June 4th, applicant having, it was said, pricked his thumb with a piece of Scarborough Rock – blood poisoning ensuing.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, was for applicant, and Mr RH Vernon Wragge, barrister, 
instructed by Mr GE Royle, was for the respondent.

Mr Whitfield said that 
applicant had been employed by respondent, his principal occupation being to make Scarborough Rock in the presence of the public. He began work on May 26th and his wages were £2 a week. The accident took place on June 4th. When he was removing some of the rock, freshly made, he pricked his thumb, which bled slightly. When the rock was first made it was sharp, and cuts were not unknown.

Mr Whitfield said blood poisoning supervened, and the applicant was seen by Dr Ross and the house surgeon at the hospital. He was operated upon at the hospital, and later a portion of the thumb was amputated.

Mr Wragge, cross-examining, asked if the injury was not previously due to a whitlow. This he denied.

Continuing, Mr Wragge cross-examined to show that applicant would, eventually, be able to work, and would be little the worse.

Mr Wragge: I am afraid you would make a very bad wounded soldier.

Applicant was understood to say that he would not mind going to the front, bad as he was.

One question asked by Mr Wragge was as to whether he had not pricked the thumb with a pin. This the applicant denied.

Dr Maingay said the thumb had not been amputated, it had been opened and part of the dead bone had been taken away. This affected the first joint of the thumb, and a portion of the other. Applicant was suffering from local blood poisoning.

By Mr Wragge: Witness could not say that the injury was primarily due to a whitlow – he did not see it at first. Witness was prepared to say that the wound might have occurred in various ways provided there was a prick setting up septic poisoning.

By Mr Whitfield: A whitlow might be caused by a prick setting up septic poisoning.

A brother of applicant, also a sugar-boiler, said that when the rock material was being boiled it was, of course, soft, but they had to work it up until it was brittle. He had known one or two persons to be cut in a like manner.

By His Honour: The colouring used was the dangerous part if it entered a cut.

For the respondent Mr Wragge said that his case amounted to, practically, a 
total denial.

Respondent, in the box, said applicant had told him he thought the injury had been caused by a cinder. He did not tell witness it had been cut by the rock. One doctor said the injury looked like a whitlow. The doctor at the hospital asked applicant how the injury occurred, in witness’s presence, and applicant replied that he did not know, he thought he had picked up a cinder.

By Mr Whitfield: There was no truth in much of the evidence given for applicant.

Mr Whitfield, cross-examined at length, replied that applicant had told witness about being pricked by the rock, but he denied this. He did not ask the man when he first stayed from work what was the matter with him, but understood that the man had pricked his thumb with a cinder.

Mrs Rowe said that a day or two after the alleged accident applicant asked for a pin. Directly after he said: “That’s better.” She asked him what he had done and he said he had pricked it, got some black blood out, and it felt easier. She asked him why he had not asked for a needle as a pin was dangerous. He did not tell her that he had pricked his thumb with the rock.

A girl, who was acting as servant at Rowe’s house at the time of the alleged accident, said she heard applicant say he thought he had done it with a cinder.

The Judge said the cause was a most unsatisfactory one on both sides. He was not satisfied with the evidence on either side. Dr Maingay’s evidence was the only bright spot in the case, but he could not state what caused the injury. Other doctors who saw the man had not been called. The hospital doctor should have been called. He (the Judge) thought there had been an injury to the thumb before applicant went into Rowe’s employment. He was inclined to accept applicant’s evidence rather than respondent’s, but he could not find that applicant had proved his case. He must therefore dismiss it, but could not allow costs.