Thursday Flashback

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1915 Court

A singular case came before Judge Lock, at the Scarborough County Court, today, John Waters, 16, Albion Street, bath chair man, being the applicant in a workmen’s compensation case, the respondent being Mrs Lofthouse, 143, North Marine Road, widow, who it was said was over 80 years of age.

Witness considered Waters was suffering from neuritis, from the knuckles up his arm to the shoulder

Mr J Whitfield was for the applicant and Mr Tasker Hart was for respondent. Applicant claimed 12s 6d a week during incapacity, and it was alleged that the latter was due to neuritis and other injuries set up by Mrs Lofthouse through striking Waters on the right hand with a walking stick whilst he was pulling her in a bath chair.

Mr Tasker Hart said Mrs Lofthouse was ill in bed when the notice was served. Her son had arranged with the approved society to pay 5s 6d a week.

It was said that Dr Thornley, who was a witness for respondent, was going to the Front, leaving here on May 12th – at about the date of the next court. The judge, therefore, decided to hear the medical evidence from both sides.

For the applicant Dr Corry said on 26th September, 1914, he examined Waters’ right hand. Waters’ described an injury which he said was the result of a blow by a walking stick. There was not so far as the injury was concerned much to see but he complained of pain and tenderness. Waters had been under his care since. Witness considered Waters was suffering from neuritis, from the knuckles up his arm to the shoulder.

Mr Whitfield: In your opinion is he now fit for work?

Witness: I could not say so.

By Mr Hart: The injury was only a slight one on the knuckle.

Witness: He described it as a sharp blow. Answering further questions, witness said there was little to see, there was no abrasion of the skin.

Mr Hart: Was it consistent with the slight tap of a walking stick?

Witness: I couldn’t say as to a slight tap.

Mr Hart, in the course of further questions, asked as to whether Waters, who is left handed, was suffering from neuritis on Friday last, and suggested that there were tests which doctors could put.

Witness said that people could wince and pretend to be in pain.

Mr Hart: But you doctors are so clever you could find out.

Witness: We are not as clever as lawyers (laughter).

Mr Hart suggested that Waters was now quite better.

Dr Thornley said he had examined Waters in October on behalf of Mrs Lofthouse, and said there was no mark of injury but on pressure of the part alleged to be injured he apparently excited pain up the arm. The case was consistent with a slight blow from a walking stick.

On Saturday he examined Waters again and could find no injury, and on pressure could elicit no pain. Waters was left handed, and on Saturday his right arm was as muscular as the left arm. He would have expected neuritis, in a person suffering from September to March, to have caused wastage of the muscles. Witness would say the neuritis had not been of a prolonged character.

Witness was not suffering from it on Saturday last. Waters complained of pain on Saturday in both shoulders, and in the left leg. Such pains, in witness’s opinion, were not attributable to the accident.

By Mr Whitfield: He admitted that a doctor continually attending a patient would be in a better position to speak of that patient’s condition than one who had only seen a patient on two occasions. Neuritis might extend along an individual nerve, but on Saturday he could not elicit pain extending from the right hand.

Mr Whitfield: You do not allege the man is a malingerer?

Witness: No, I should not like to say that.

By Mr Hart: The pain elsewhere, on Saturday, might be attributable to sciatica – Waters had previously had sciatica. It could not be due to the accident.

His Honour adjourned the case to the next court.