ADA COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY v. SNEAD

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ADA COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY v. SNEAD
1961 OK 128
362 P.2d 688
Case Number: 39204
Decided: 05/31/1961
Supreme Court of Oklahoma

ADA COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY AND EQUITY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS,
v.
BEULAH BROWN SNEAD AND THE STATE INDUSTRIAL COURT, RESPONDENTS.

Petition for review from the State Industrial Court.

Syllabus by the Court

¶0 1. The jurisdiction of the State Industrial Court is limited to those matters which are expressly or by necessary implication delegated to it by proper legislative enactment.
2. Where no final award has been made to an injured employee prior to death, an award for disability cannot be made after death unless the death is due to a cause, or causes, other than the accidental injury.
3. It is the duty of the State Industrial Court to make specific findings of the ultimate facts responsive to the issues as well as the conclusions of law upon which an order is made granting or denying an award of compensation to a claimant.
4. Where the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the State Industrial Court are too indefinite and uncertain for judicial interpretation, this court, on appeal, will vacate the order for further proceedings.

Original proceeding brought by Ada Coca-Cola Bottling Company and its insurance carrier, Equity Mutual Insurance Company, Petitioners, to review an award of the State Industrial Court made to Beulah Brown Snead, Claimant.

Award vacated.

Kerr, Lambert, Conn & Roberts by R. Burl Harris, Ada, for petitioners.

D.C. Willoughby, Ada, Claud Briggs, Carrol Womack, Oklahoma City, Mac Q. Williamson, Atty. Gen., for respondents.

JACKSON, Justice.

¶1 This is the second proceeding to review an award involving the same accident. The first was disposed of in Ada Coca-Cola Bottling Co. et al., v. State Industrial Commission et al., Okl.,

¶2 One of the propositions argued by petitioners in their brief is to the effect that the State Industrial Court erred as a matter of law in making an award for disability without first finding that the claimant died as a result of a cause or causes other than the accidental injury. To this argument, claimant answers that it is not now necessary for the State Industrial Court to make such a finding.

¶3 For a clear exposition of the respective contentions of the parties, we set out portions of the Workmen's Compensation Law having to do with the situation where the injured workman died, and a brief history of Workmen's Compensation legislation in Oklahoma.

¶4

"An award for disability may be made after the death of the injured employee, when death results from causes other than the injury." (Emphasis supplied.)

¶5

"* * * Compensation and benefits shall be paid only to employees; provided, however, that an award made to a claimant under the provisions of this chapter shall, in case of death of claimant, due to a cause other than the injury for which he has been awarded compensation, be payable to and for the benefit of the persons following: * * *". (Emphasis supplied.)

¶6 When the Oklahoma Workmen's Compensation Law was first enacted, Article 23, Section 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution provided as follows:

"The right of action to recover damages for injuries resulting in death shall never be abrogated, and the amount recoverable shall not be subject to any statutory limitation."

¶7 Until 1950, all Workmen's Compensation legislation was enacted with a view toward the above provision of the Constitution, which effectively prevented any death benefit provisions.

¶8 In 1950, Article 23, Section 7 was amended by the addition of the following proviso:

"* * * provided, however, that the Legislature may provide an amount of compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Law for death resulting from injuries suffered in employment covered by such law, in which case the compensation so provided shall be exclusive."

¶9 In 1951, pursuant to the amendment to the Constitution, the Legislature amended

¶10 Petitioners in their brief rely upon Oklahoma Furniture Mfg. Co. v. Douglas et al., 193 Okl. 498,

"Where an employee dies as a proximate result of an accidental personal injury, the State Industrial Commission is thereupon deprived of jurisdiction to make any award in favor of his dependents.

¶11 Petitioners argue that pursuant to this rule and the applicable statutes, a finding that death resulted from a cause or causes other than the injury for which an award for disability is sought, is jurisdictional in the instant case; that since the order of the State Industrial Court contains no such finding, it is fatally defective.

¶12 Claimant agrees in her brief on appeal that the rule in the Oklahoma Furniture Mfg. Co. case was the law in 1943, when the case was decided, but argues that in view of the amendments to the constitution and statutes since then, it is no longer applicable. Of course this is true as regards death benefit cases; but the instant case rests upon a claim for disability before death where the only award was made after the death of the injured worker. It is not a death benefit case and is not a revivor of an award made prior to death.

¶13 Claimant says that "all of the statutory and constitutional limitations upon the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court to make an award for disability in injury cases resulting in death which the court relied on in Oklahoma Furniture Mfg. Co. v. Douglas, supra" have been removed. This is not entirely correct. The last paragraph of

¶14 However, in any event, after the amendment of Article 23, Section 7 of the Constitution, the legislature did not see fit to enact any new legislation expressly authorizing the State Industrial Court to make awards after death for disability from the injury for which the award is sought. In this connection, note that the State Industrial Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. Pine v. Davis, 193 Okl. 517,

¶15 Claimant cites

¶16 We have previously said that the last paragraph of

¶17 The question raised herein is basically one of jurisdiction. Since the order of the State Industrial Court does not contain a finding bringing it within the terms of said Section 41, we are unable to determine this jurisdictional question.

¶18 It is the duty of the State Industrial Court to make specific findings of the ultimate facts responsive to the issues as well as the conclusions of law upon which an order is made granting or denying an award of compensation to a claimant. Corzine v. Traders Compress et al., 196 Okl. 259,

¶19 Where the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the State Industrial Court are too indefinite and uncertain for judicial interpretation, this court, on appeal, will vacate the order. Corzine v. Traders Compress et al., supra.

¶20 Award vacated.

¶21 WILLIAMS, C.J., BLACKBIRD, V.C.J. and HALLEY, JOHNSON, IRWIN and BERRY, JJ., concur.