This is a review by writ of certiorari of a judgment of the Circuit Court of Mobile County awarding workmen's compensation to Prince Edwards.
The petitioner is the Pinto Island Metals Company, Inc., by whom Edwards was employed.
Pinto is engaged in buying and selling metals of all sorts. Bulk objects such as old ships are cut up and the metal sold for scrap.
Prince Edwards was employed as a "burner" by Pinto. As such, he used a blow torch. On 17 April 1960, he was burning the top of a metal barrel preparing to use it in breaking up some batteries for the lead therein. The barrel contained, or had contained, flammable or explosive material. It exploded and Edwards received burns and injuries of such severity that he was hospitalized from 17 April until 3 July 1960.
Prior to his injuries Edwards' wages as a burner averaged $62.00 per week. Upon his return to work for Pinto he was given work as a metals separator at identical wages. By the time of the trial he had received two 5¢ per hour raises and his weekly wages averaged $66.40. Edwards was 35 years of age at the time of trial, married, and the father of four children under 18 years of age.
During his absence from his job, Pinto paid his medical expenses of some $4,014.72, and $31.00 per week workmen's compensation for forty weeks. The present litigation arises out of Edwards' claim for additional compensation.
Edwards testified that upon the explosion of the barrel, his clothing was burned completely off "from the pockets down;" his face was burned; his left eye was knocked out of the socket, and he was otherwise injured. He was taken to the first aid station, and then to a hospital.
Dr. Leslie Heiter, Pinto's physician, was in general charge of Edwards' case, though several specialists were also called in. During his stay in the hospital, some four skin grafting operations were performed on his legs with, medically speaking, good results. His face bears some patches where the pigment is absent due to burns.
The tenor of the medical testimony as to the dermatological aspects is that in time Edwards should recover to where he would have no permanent disability.
Edwards testified that in the hospital his eyes were bandaged over and he did not know if they were burned or not. Some of the time he was unconscious.
Medical records kept by Drs. Yeager and Warren, eye specialists, show that on the day of the accident Dr. Heiter requested an examination for "laceration face—face —lid—burns of face." He was seen on that date by Dr. Yeager.
On 25 August 1959, Edwards was examined by Dr. Yeager who entered on the Yeager—Warren report: "Corneal astigmatism due to burns??" This after a refraction test. Edwards was seen again by Dr. Yeager on 18 September 1959, and he prescribed glasses for him.
On 1 September 1960, Edwards' attorney wrote Dr. Yeager asking if he would give them a report as to the extent of vision loss suffered by Edwards.
Dr. Yeager replied to this letter on 8 September 1960, as follows:
It appears that after his return to work Edwards, on 19 October 1960, got a piece of glass in his eye and upon going to the offices of Drs. Yeager and Warren, he was seen by Dr. Warren.
In his report of this examination Dr. Warren wrote that he found no real injury to Edwards' eye from this second accident. He also added to his report of this second accident the following relative to Edwards' eye injuries sustained in the explosion:
The next day, 21 October 1960, Dr. Warren wrote a letter to Alabama Drydock, attention insurance department, in which he stated:
Dr. Warren testified as a witness for Pinto in the proceedings below, and the tenor of his testimony is fairly well illustrated by his reports above. He testified that he made a microscopic examination of Edwards' eyes on 21 October 1960, which was the only time he saw Edwards, and found no corneal scarring. The cornea is the transparent structure forming the front of the eyeball, while the lens is inside the eye. Finding no corneal scarring, Dr. Warren was positive in his opinion that the corneal and lenticular astigmatism which he observed in Edwards' eyes could not have resulted from the explosion, but was a condition existing from birth with a tendency to progress with age.
On cross examination Dr. Warren testified that the records of the examination of Edwards' eyes in August 1959, showed that his vision in his right eye was 20/400 correctible to 20/40, but in October 1960, it was correctible to 20/70, and this indicated a lessening in vision. Dr. Yeager's chart showed that in November 1960, the right eye was correctible to 20/200, and the left eye to 20/40.
It is also to be noted that in his report to the Alabama Drydock following his examination of Edwards in October 1959, Dr. Warren stated: "There is a vatreous band
It further appears that in reply to an additional letter written by counsel for Edwards, Dr. Yeager, on 22 November 1960, wrote the following letter:
It might be noted that Dr. Warren mentioned in his testimony that this letter confirmed his views, and was a retraction of Dr. Yeager's earlier finding of corneal astigmatism, particularly when considered in light of the question marks appearing in Yeager's earlier diagnosis for corneal astigmatism. Yeager's full report at this time makes questionable whether the question marks were used because of doubt of his diagnosis, or because never having seen Edwards before he could not say positively the corneal astigmatism he found resulted from the explosion. It is also to be noted that Yeager, in his second letter does not repudiate his earlier finding of corneal astigmatism, but only states that the lenticular astigmatism could not have been caused by the explosion.
Prince Edwards testified in his own behalf in the court below. The tendencies of his testimony are reflected in the court's findings. As to the injuries to his body, the court made the following findings:
As to the injuries to Edwards' eyes the court found:
On certiorari to review judgments in workmen's compensation cases, this court does not look to the weight of the evidence, but we examine the evidence to see if there is any evidence to support the facts found by the trial court. See Ala.Dig., Work. Com., for innumerable authorities.
It is our conclusion that there is evidence in this record supporting the finding of the trial court.
Counsel for petitioner argues strenuously that the trial court admitted and considered illegal testimony. In this connection the record shows that over the objection of the petitioner here, the trial court permitted Edwards, on direct examination, to testify in response to a question seeking to elicit such testimony: "Well right now I would say as far as manual labor is concerned, I would say about 75% of what I could do I can't do now."
Stripped of this illegal evidence, there is sufficient legal evidence to support the judgment.
Further, in workmen's compensation proceedings expert's opinions are not conclusive on triers of facts even though uncontroverted. Benson-Jackson-Mathers Post No. 5106 v. Donaldson, 267 Ala. 60, 99 So.2d 688, and cases cited therein.
Counsel for petitioner further argues that the undisputed evidence shows that Edwards suffered no loss of earning capacity as a result of the injuries received in the explosion, and the court's judgment based on 75% total permanent disability is erroneous.
Counsel argues that Section 279(C)6, of Title 26, Code of Alabama 1940, prescribes the award for non-scheduled partial permanent disability and sets the same at "the difference between the average weekly earnings of the workman at the time of the injury and the average weekly earnings he is able to earn in his partially disabled condition."
The court found that Edwards' most severe injuries were to his eyes. This being so, Section 279(C)6, supra, does not determine the award. For partial permanent disability to sight the award is governed by the provisions of Sec. (D) and (C)3 of Section 279, supra, considered in connection with Sub. Sec. (C) of Section 279. Consolidated Coal Co. v. Dill, 248 Ala. 5, 26 So.2d 88; Swift & Co. v. Rolling, 252 Ala. 536, 42 So.2d 6.
LIVINGSTON, C. J., and SIMPSON and MERRILL, JJ., concur.