Alaska Industrial Bd. v. Chugach Elec. Assn., Inc.

PETITIONER: Alaska Industrial Bd.
RESPONDENT: Chugach Elec. Assn., Inc.
LOCATION: Wolverine Tube, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 303
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 356 US 320 (1958)
ARGUED: Apr 08, 1958
DECIDED: Apr 28, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Alaska Industrial Bd. v. Chugach Elec. Assn., Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 08, 1958 in Alaska Industrial Bd. v. Chugach Elec. Assn., Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 303, Alaska Industrial Board and Carl E. Jenkins, Petitioners, versus Chugach Electric Association, Inc.

Mr. Dimond, you may proceed.

John H. Dimond:

May it please the Court?

This case rises under the Alaska Workmen's Compensation statute.

In September 1951, the petitioner Carl Jenkins while in the course of his employment with Chugach Electric Association got a 1200 volt arc into his arm on the high power line, and it exploded out both his feet.

Within one month following this accident, three amputations had been performed because of the electrical burning.

The left arm had been amputated near the shoulder, the right leg below the knee, and four toes of the left foot.

Within one year after the accident, the medical reports in the record show that Jenkins had been fitted with artificial limbs.

He had an artificial left arm and artificial right leg and had it not been for the injury to the left foot where four toes were amputated.

He could have sought and probably obtain some type of employment.

But, the left foot failed to heal and this failure continued on for a period of over three years.

At the conclusion of the case before the Industrial Board and when this case went to the District Court, the evidence showed even then in December 1953 that the foot had not healed.

If the case were remanded to the Board, I suspect that a finding could be made now that healing process was completed in 1954, early part of 1955.

Now, right after his injury, the insurance carrier commenced paying Jenkins what they called temporary compensation specifically provided under the Alaska statute.

That statute provides that for all injuries causing temporary disability, the injured employee shall be paid 65% of his daily average wages during the period of the disability, and that has always been construed by the Industrial Board and by Alaska Courts as meaning that he gets, during the healing period until his wages, I mean until his injuries have stabilized or have been healed, 65% of his average wages whatever the board finds him to be, and in the average case at the end of that healing period, if there's any permanent injury, the Industrial Board makes a finding of what percentage permanent injuries involved and also gives employee an additional award under the permanent injury schedule of the Alaska Act.

William O. Douglas:

Award for permanent disabilities is not related to wages.

John H. Dimond:

I think it does not Your Honor.

William O. Douglas:

Lump sum is it?

John H. Dimond:

Sir?

William O. Douglas:

It's a lump sum?

John H. Dimond:

It's a lump sum, it's not related to wages, it has no relation -- it's not computed on wages.

A man might for example Your Honor, a man might lose the hearing in both ears and receive the maximum award for total and permanent disability and yet he might go back to employment and earn just as much as he did before, so it's not related directly at least to loss of wages.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, didn't the Court of Appeals say that it was?

John H. Dimond:

The court of Appeals did say that it was Your Honor, yes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I am wondering, is that -- is that an issue we have to determine here?

John H. Dimond:

I don't think you have to determine that issue Your Honor, no.

The only issue I think the Court has to determine is whether the Court of Appeals was correct in saying that when a man has received the maximum permanent award that he has conclusively presumed not to have any further or remaining earning capacity.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

And basically is this a question of the construction of the Alaska Act --

John H. Dimond:

That's the case in a nutshell Your Honor.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Yes.