This is a workmen's compensation case (Code 1940, Tit. 26, § 253 et seq., as amended) brought here by certiorari on petition of the defendant below (City of Jasper) to review a judgment of the circuit court of Walker County awarding compensation to plaintiff-appellee, as the widow of a deceased employee of defendant City.
As to the cause of employee's death, the trial court made the following factual findings, as required by § 304, Tit. 26, viz.:
There can be no award of compensation unless an employee's injury or death is "caused * * * by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment." Section 253, Tit. 26, Code 1940. The term "accident" is defined by amended § 262(i), Tit. 26, as meaning "an unexpected or unforeseen event, happening suddenly and violently, with or without human fault, and producing at the time injury to the physical structure of the body by accidental means." So, the first question presented, the answer to which is decisive of this appeal, is whether the facts as found by the trial court (assuming them to be supported by the evidence) show that the employee's death was caused by an "accident." Our conclusion is that it was not, making it unnecessary to decide whether the heart attack was an "injury to the physical structure of the body."
Upon this record, our view is that the argument between these two city employees cannot be regarded as involving or inducing any greater emotional or nervous strain or tension than the many verbal differences to which nearly all workers are at times subjected in the normal course of their work. To hold that the employee's death, under the circumstances of this case, was the result of an "accident", as that term is used in the Workmen's Compensation Law, would be stretching the legislative intent beyond the breaking point. Assuming that Mr. Sherer, the deceased employee, saw Mr. Lester, his fellow employee, approaching him at a distance of approximately 150 to 200 feet away, we just simply are unable to agree that this was such "an unexpected or unforeseen event, happening suddenly and violently," as to constitute an "accident."
While the Workmen's Compensation Act should be liberally construed to accomplish its beneficent purposes (Benson-Jackson-Mathers Post No. 5106 v. Donaldson, 267 Ala. 60, 97 So.2d 688; Brunson Milling Co. v. Grimes, 267 Ala. 395, 103 So.2d 315; Ex parte Majestic Coal Co., 208 Ala. 86, 93 So. 728), it should not be given a construction extending it beyond its legitimate scope (United States Steel Corporation v. Baker, 266 Ala. 538, 97 So.2d 899), nor one which the language of the Act does not fairly and reasonably support.
To sustain the award in this case would require a strained construction of the Act. We find no language in it which would fairly and reasonably support an award of compensation in this case. The propriety of extending the law to cover cases of this character, and the consequences of failure to do so, are matters for consideration by the legislature. There is no warrant for us to add coverage under it which is not there.
The following apt statement is from Nichols v. St. Louis & S. F. R. Co., 227 Ala. 592, 594, 151 So. 347, 349, 90 A.L.R. 842:
Reversed and remanded.
SIMPSON, MERRILL and COLEMAN, JJ., concur.