Picture House worker sues after ladder fall

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1914 Court

Before Judge Lock in the Scarborough County Court, Herbert Eaman, Hoxton Road, sued Harold Cardwell, who had been associated with the Picture House, Vernon Place, in a case of arbitration under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.

Mr HE Donner, for Plaintiff, said the latter was engaged as doorman at the Picture House at 15s a week for a week or two, and then £1 a week.

He was engaged from April 1912 to February last year. In February, having some bills to post outside the building he used, as he generally did, a step ladder. It was wet, and the ladder slipped. In order to save himself he jumped off. He was now totally incapacitated and had not been out of his room since March 7th. He was not likely to be better, and he was making a claim for compensation.

Dr Ross said plaintiff was completely disabled, and was unable to get out of his bed.

Dr Salter agreed with the diagnosis of Dr Ross. Applicant could not work, and his knee was likely to be permanently stiff. His condition was compatible with a fall from a ladder.

Dr Thornley also agreed with the evidence given.

On the other side, Mr Whitfield stated it was some time after the 
accident was said to have taken place that applicant suggested at all that his illness was due to the accident. Had notice been given sooner a doctor, on behalf of the employers, could have examined applicant and formed a better opinion as to whether the illness was caused by the accident. He submitted, too, that no claim was made within the six months.

The Judge said it seemed to be that applicant was reluctant to claim unless his employer was insured, and the employer said he was.

Dr Drake, Leeds, said that applicant told him he alighted on his feet and got a shock. Describing his examination the doctor said there was a line on the gums due to cigarette smoking. Applicant had smoked 20 to 30 cigarettes a day. The line might be caused by poisons by lead, and also by tobacco smoking. He attributed applicant’s condition to a poisonous condition of the blood.

The Judge: If there was not an accident why should the ailment begin at that time?

Witness said that he knew of no reason except the condition of the blood. The illness might have been brought about by a chill.

Dr Hutton said the condition of applicant’s knee was compatible with it being due to illness and not to an accident.

By Mr Donner: An accident might have accelerated, and brought on the disease.

Harold Cardwell said that a day or two after the alleged accident Eaman told him that he had slipped off the ladder. Subsequently he attributed his incapacity to rheumatism, and it was not until some months after the alleged accident that it was attributed to the accident.

Frederick Cardwell, Picture House, Scarborough, also gave evidence.

It was still open for the doctors to say that the accident was not the cause of the disease, but if the accident did occur the doctors agreed it might have predisposed the disease. Therefore the Judge held that the accident did happen, and that it accelerated a latent condition, and but for this accident, as the Court of Appeal had held over and over again, the man would not have been disabled.

Disablement in this case occured within a week.

He would grant applicant an award, but to mark the 
applicant’s conduct he would not award him costs. He made an order for 10s a week.