HOLTZOFF, District Judge.
This is an action to review and set aside two awards under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, which constitutes the Workmen's Compensation Act for the District of Columbia.
The case is unusual. Were it not profoundly tragic it could be said to be bizarre. Bernard J. Mainer and Kenneth M. Fisher were musicians performing at a restaurant in downtown Washington, known as The Jo-Del Restaurant. On the night of December 27, 1957, two intoxicated and disorderly patrons were ejected from the establishment. Later that night, after the musical entertainment had been completed, the musicians had been paid off, and the place was about to be closed, the two disgruntled customers returned, carrying firearms and commenced shooting inside the restaurant. They first shot one of the proprietors, who died instantly. Continued indiscriminate gunfire on their part resulted in the wounding of the two musicians. These wounds proved fatal. The Deputy Commissioner, after a series of protracted hearings, awarded compensation to Mainer's mother, and to Fisher's widow and children. The plaintiffs claim that no awards should have been made and seek to set them aside.
It is appalling to contemplate that such an uncivilized and barbaric episode could take place in the heart of this city in the middle of the Twentieth Century. The case has a strong humanitarian and sympathetic appeal especially as to Fisher's widow and children. On the other hand, one may well wonder whether it is within the philosophy of the Workmen's Compensation system that such a tragic event as occurred in this case should be within the insurance coverage, and whether it was contemplated that an employer should carry and pay for insurance against such remote and rare contingencies. One may reasonably question whether these murders may properly be regarded as an industrial accident. These enquiries, however, need not be pursued by this Court in the instant case, for the attack on the awards of the Deputy Commissioner is directed solely against his findings of fact, which, it is contended, are not supported by substantial evidence.
The principles governing judicial review in workmen's compensation cases are well established. They are so fundamental that they can be briefly and succinctly recapitulated without citation of authorities. The statute must be liberally construed and applied in favor of the workman. The scope of judicial review is strictly limited. The statutory action
In the amended complaint and in oral argument of counsel, the following objections against the Deputy Commissioner's findings of fact were advanced.
For the reasons about to be stated, the Court will overrule objections 2, 3, and 4, and sustain objection No. 1.
The hearings before the Deputy Commissioner were unduly protracted and the record is unnecessarily voluminous due to the persistence of counsel in insisting on tendering much immaterial, irrelevant and incompetent matter. A close and intensive reading of the transcript of the evidence was required on the part of the Court in order to winnow the wheat from the chaff. The Deputy Commissioner made full and detailed findings of fact with painstaking care. The Court at this point will discuss the second, third and fourth objections, leaving the first objection until the last. The second objection was that no employer-employee relationship existed between the musicians and the owner of the restaurant, but that the musicians were independent contractors. The proof on this issue was conflicting. There was evidence, however, that each of the three musicians, who played or sang in the restaurant, was separately hired by the proprietor; that the owner exercised the function of hiring and discharging them; that each was individually paid by the proprietor a salary of $10 a night; and that each was required to perform during regular working hours set by the proprietor. The Deputy Commissioner was justified on the basis of this evidence in finding that the musicians were employees of the restaurant. It was shown,
The evidence does indeed indicate that the musicians were in a sense temporary employees, as they and other similar workers in the entertainment field were in the habit of frequently changing their place of employment, sometimes every few months, sometimes every few weeks, and even every few days. No doubt this circumstance increases the employer's problem and burden in keeping appropriate records. Neither the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act nor the local statute making the Federal Act generally applicable in the District of Columbia, however, contains any provision excluding temporary or floating employees from the benefits of the insurance scheme. The District of Columbia law excepts any "employee engaged in * * * any employment that is casual and
The third objection is that there was no substantial evidence sustaining the finding of the Deputy Commissioner that the earnings of the deceased averaged $65 a week. There is ample evidence, however, that each of the two musicians at the time of his death was receiving wages of $10 a day, for a five day week; that in addition he earned tips ranging from $3 to $6, or more, a day; and that previously he had earned $12 a day for a seven day week. Accordingly the Court is of the opinion that this finding of the Deputy Commissioner is sustained by substantial evidence.
The fourth objection is that there was no substantial evidence sustaining the finding that Mainer's mother was dependent on him. The evidence on this point is far from satisfactory. Much of it is indefinite, general, and hazy. Some of it is contradicted. Moreover, the testimony of Mainer's mother was seriously impeached on cross-examination. On the other hand, several witnesses corroborated her statement. Whether this testimony should be believed or rejected, whether so much of it as is favorable to the claimant should be credited and what weight should be attached to it, are questions for the trier of the facts and not for a reviewing tribunal. The fact remains that there is some testimony of substance, which, if believed, would tend to indicate that the deceased had been making considerable contributions to his mother which were of no mean assistance to her in her support.
We shall now revert to the first objection, namely, that there was no substantial evidence justifying the findings that the deceased were murdered in the course of their employment. The learned Deputy Commissioner made the following findings in respect to employee Mainer:
Similar findings were made in respect to employee Fisher.
The evidence on this point is scanty. There were three musicians performing at the restaurant on the night in question. The third was Sherwood, who testified as follows (Tr. 551, 552, 553, 554, 555 and 556):
The foregoing testimony stands uncontradicted and seems unequivocally to lead to the conclusion that the two deceased musicians had completed their performance about 1:30 a. m., and were immediately paid off; that they sat around in the restaurant for their own personal purposes instead of immediately leaving their place of employment; and that the murderers came in about 2:00 a. m., and commenced shooting. Clearly, therefore, when they were shot, the deceased were not on the premises in the course of their employment. Their duties had terminated a half hour previously and they had been free to depart.
Under the circumstances, the Court is constrained to conclude that the finding of the Deputy Commissioner that the deceased were shot while they were being paid their wages, is not supported by substantial evidence. Similarly, the conclusion that the injuries were sustained in the course of employment likewise does not seem justified. On the contrary, under the circumstances the Court is of the opinion that the injuries were not sustained in the course of employment. In view of these considerations, there is no liability to pay workmen's compensation in these cases. This view is fully supported by the weight of authority. It is well established that while an employee must have reasonable time within which to leave the employer's premises after his duties are finished for the day, nevertheless, if for his own purposes he tarries for some time after working hours, he is no longer in employment status under the Workmen's Compensation Act and any injury sustained during that period is not compensable. Thus in National Biscuit Co. v. Litzky, 6 Cir., 22 F.2d 939, 56 A.L.R. 853, it was held that injuries sustained by the employee while she lingered on the employer's premises after her work was terminated, in order to have lunch, were not covered by the Workmen's Compensation Act.
In Congdon v. Klett Co., 307 N.Y. 218, 120 N.E.2d 796, the same principle was applied in the case of an employee who had completed his day's duties but remained on the employer's premises in order to take a swim in the employer's pool with the employer's permission. In this instance the hours of work ended at 5:00 p. m., and the injury was sustained about 5:30 p. m.
In Urban v. Topping Brothers, 184 App.Div. 633, 172 N.Y.S. 432, a clerk in a wholesale concern finished his work and went to look for companions with whom he usually went home and who were at that time elsewhere in the employer's premises. While doing so, he was injured. The Court held that at the time of the injury he was no longer engaged
In Adams v. Uvalde Asphalt Paving Co., 205 App.Div. 784, 200 N.Y.S. 886, the employee was laid off but remained in the employer's premises to eat lunch. After lunch but before leaving the premises he was injured. It was held that he was not in the course of his employment when he was hurt and that an award under the Workmen's Compensation law could not be sustained.
In Fowler v. Texas Employers' Ins. Ass'n, Tex.Civ.App., 237 S.W.2d 373, the plaintiff was a saleslady in a large department store working only part time. On the day of the accident her work ended at 3:00 p. m. Instead of leaving the store, however, she went to another department to purchase some articles for herself. This activity consumed about fifteen or twenty minutes. Then while she was preparing to leave, she was injured. It was held that there could be no recovery under the Workmen's Compensation Act, because the injury was incurred after the termination of the employment for the day and subsequently to the time that would have been reasonably consumed in leaving the store.
It follows hence that the plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment. While the plaintiffs have not filed any document entitled a motion or a cross-motion for summary judgment, the Court will treat the plaintiffs' written opposition to the defendants' motion, as a cross-motion. To do otherwise would unduly stress mere technicalities and create futile circumlocution.
The defendants' motion for summary judgment is denied. The plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is granted.