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U.S. Supreme Court

Lawson v. Suwannee Fruit & Steamship Co., 336 U.S. 198 (1949)

Lawson v. Suwannee Fruit & Steamship Co.

No. 56

Argued December 7, 1948

Decided February 14, 1949

336 U.S. 198


1. An employee, who had previously lost the sight of his right eye through causes unconnected with industry or his employment, suffered an injury in the course of his employment as a result whereof he lost the sight of his left eye, and thereby became totally disabled within the meaning of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

Held: under § 8(f)(1) of the Act, the employer was liable only for permanent partial disability (loss of the left eye), and the remainder of the compensation due for permanent total disability was payable out of the special fund established by § 44 of the Act. Pp. 336 U. S. 199-206.

2. The term "disability" in § 8(f)(1) is not to be construed as a term of art, but rather in a broader and more usual concept. Pp. 336 U. S. 200-202.

3. Section 8(f)(1) is not to be read as creating a distinction between a worker previously injured in industry and one handicapped by a nonindustrial cause. Pp. 336 U. S. 202-206.

4. The contention against the conclusion here reached that the statutory fund will soon be insolvent if burdened with liability in the case of nonindustrial previous injury cannot be sustained. Pp. 336 U. S. 205-206.

166 F.2d 13 affirmed.

An award by the Deputy Commissioner under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act required respondent to pay compensation for permanent total disability of an employee. On review, the District Court held that respondent was liable only for permanent partial disability. 68 F.Supp. 616. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 166 F.2d 13. This Court granted certiorari. 334 U.S. 857. Affirmed, p. 336 U. S. 206. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 336 U. S. 199

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