Trawler crewman fell 20ft while painting

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1914 Police Court

Before His Honour Judge Lock, at the Scarborough County Court today, a compensation case was gone into. Dr Edmondson sitting with the judge as medical assessor.

The applicant was George Hartley, 1, Long Greece Steps, and according to Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, who appeared for him, he had been employed on the trawler St Hilda, as a fireman, receiving 35s a week. The respondents were Messrs J Graham and Sons, East Hartlepool. On December 23rd last year applicant was painting the funnel of the vessel at East Hartlepool when he fell to the deck a distance of eighteen or twenty feet. He was seen by a doctor at East Hartlepool, who said he might proceed home to Scarborough, but next morning he was unable to leave his bed and had been 
under Dr Foley ever since.

Applicant said he was in bed about a month. At the present time he could not move his shoulder – he could only move the arm from the elbow. He could not lift 
anything, and three of his 
fingers were affected.

Mr Whitfield: Could you hold or cling to anything? – No I cannot cling to anything, I cannot hold anything. I cannot even lift a kettle. Proceeding, he said that frequently he could not get his jacket on without assistance. He was not fit to go even as a cook on a vessel because if there was a heavy roll of sea he would have to cling. “You don’t want a man with a lame arm at sea – you want five or six extra arms sometimes,” said witness. He added that in lifting pans containing any boiling water he might drop them and scald himself or someone else.

Replying to Mr C Royle, for respondents, witness said that Dr de John, of East Hartlepool, had said the injuries were on the right side – now they were on the left. He urged, however, that Dr de John had not made a minute examination at Hartlepool, but had told him to get home. He did not strip witness as Dr Foley did, Dr de John had told him, when he got home, to see his own doctor.

Mr Royle suggested that applicant had lifted his arm above the shoulder, and asked: Can you do it now?

Witness: Why, is it likely? (laughter). I shouldn’t be here if I could do that, I should be at sea, perhaps.

He admitted that with the assistance of Dr de John he had put his arm up to near his head.

Mr Royle: Didn’t the doctor suggest that some light work would do you good?

Witness: He suggested, yes, but there is no light work on a trawler – he has never been there (laughter).

By Mr Royle: It was because he would not accept such work that the compensation pay had been suspended.

Continuing, witness said that had he been able to work he would not, with his family “have been kicking about for twelve months” when he could earn 35s a week. “I might have been earning £2 5s a week, now,” he added.

Applicant was examined by Dr Edmondson in the Judge’s private room.

His Honour, subsequently, said the medical assessor, agreed with one decision of Dr Foley, relating to the nerve of the shoulder. Moreover, the longer the man did nothing the worse it would be. Still, he (the judge) had no evidence at all as to what the man could earn.

Replying to Mr Royle, the Judge said that there was no doubt the injury at the left side was done at the same time as that on the right side. The medical assessor was satisfied the man could not do the 
duties of a ship’s cook.

In giving judgement His Honour said the doctors (medical evidence had been taken at a previous court) agreed that the man would be better doing some work, and using the arm with proper massage treatment. If this could be got at the Hartlepool Hospital the respondents should get him there. That ought to have been done last March. It was not certain that this would make the man right – sometimes doctors were wrong – but it had not been tried. It was for the respondents to find him light work of some kind. Applicant had the impression that if he worked at all he would lose his compensation. That was wrong. Had he gained something by work he would not have reduced the whole of the compensation. He gave a verdict for 15s a week and suggested that respondents should find him light work.