Labourer fit for work exaggerates condition

144919'1915 paper copy 'Picture by Neil Silk'05/12/14
144919'1915 paper copy 'Picture by Neil Silk'05/12/14

At the Scarborough County Court, a workman’s compensation was down for hearing. It was an application to review an award made on January 28, 1913, whereby 9s a week was ordered to be paid to Thomas Henry Brown, of 46s, Cambridge Street, a labourer, in consequence of an accident sustained by Brown whilst he was employed by Walter Travis, of 2-3, Clifton Street, Window Cleaning Company manager.

Mr C Royle, solicitor, was for Travis, and Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, for Brown.

Dr Edmondson sat with Judge Lock – as medical assessor.

Mr Royle said that the man was now fit for work, and that if there was any inconvenience at first it would wear off after the man commenced work. A termination or diminution of the award was sought. The man complained of pains in the head but there was no reason, although he might not be able to go up a ladder, he should not do some work – to his own physical and mental benefit – with his hands.

The Judge: Do you offer him work?

Mr Royle said that his client would do his best to find the man work or help him to find it.

Walter Travis explained what took place at an interview with Brown at the latter’s house. Mr Sheffield, representative of the Master Window Cleaners’ Association, with whom witness was insured, was present. When it was suggested that Brown could do light work, say, in the kitchen of a hotel, he replied: “It is like this, if I once do light work I shall be done for life.” Brown meant that his compensation payments would cease, but it was pointed out to him that if he could not carry on the work the compensation money would recommence. Witness had previously asked him to assist with the machine at carpet-beating on witness’s premises. On another occasion witness found Brown sawing up wood into short bundles for firewood for a Mr Sharpe. When he saw witness he put his coat on and stopped.

By Mr Whitfield: Brown had fallen off a ladder, he was three weeks at home, and later was in the Workhouse Infirmary. Mr Whitfield said that the Insurance Company ordered the 9s to be paid to the Union authorities, and as a result he had to take a cab, go home, and was at home six months after, because he could not leave his wife and children without anything.

Witness admitted that Brown had suffered from results of concussion.

Mr Whitfield: “And concussion of the spine, if there is such a thing.”

“Is he not mentally and physically unfit?” “No.”

Witness admitted that Brown had complained of pains in the head and dizziness.

By Mr Whitfield: It did not strike witness that Brown was mentally unsound. All he could get out of Brown was that he saw sometimes “violet lines in front of his eyes”.

“When he comes to you for money does he not appear to be sort of half in another world?” “No.”

W Sheffield, 55 Lennox Road, Sheffield, president of the Master Window Cleaners’ Mutual Assurance Association Limited, with registered offices in Rochdale, corroborated as to the interview with Brown. The latter said, in reply as to whether he could do light work and that he washed pots for his wife. It was suggested that he might do that in a hotel kitchen. Brown replied: “That would mean working a week and losing my compensation.” He was told that would not be so.

Dr Hutton said he was of the opinion that the man could work, although he would stop him from going up ladders for a few months. He could beat carpets and do other work such as washing pots at a hotel, hotel porter, attendant at the Spa, and an attendant at the County Court (laughter). He could have done harvesting without any difficulty.

Brown, in the box, said when he was cleaning windows at the back of a house there were some steps up, and a ladder was utilised to reach the window. He slipped and fell on his head.

Brown said as soon he could work he would start. He could get 36s a week as a soldier.

Mr Royle: “Have you been to the Labour Exchange to see if you can get work?”

Witness: “I was never so foolish as that.” (laughter)

“Why?” “Because I knew I couldn’t work.”

Asked if he couldn’t have done hay work he said he knew nothing about it, and he wouldn’t have been quick enough.

Mr Royle: “Wouldn’t the simple life have done you any good?” “I don’t want to be any simpler than I am.” (laughter)

Mr Royle: “I don’t think you are simple, Brown.”

The Judge said he was satisfied that Brown was exaggerating. It was better for the man’s health that he should work. Brown must do his best and he would give him to December to do his best.