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01/27/76 STANLEY v. HINCHLIFFE & KENNER

January 27, 1976

STANLEY
v.
HINCHLIFFE & KENNER



Williams, J. Kavanagh, C. J., and Levin, Coleman, and Fitzgerald, JJ., concurred with Williams, J. Lindemer and Ryan, JJ., took no part in the decision of this case.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Workmen's Compensation -- Full Faith and Credit -- Multiple Awards.

A workmen's compensation recovery in one state in most instances will not act as an absolute bar to recovery in a second state for the same injury, at least in terms of the applicability of the full faith and credit clause (US Const, art IV, § 1).

2. Workmen's Compensation -- Full Faith and Credit -- Multiple Awards -- Statutes.

The right of an employee who has recovered a workmen's compensation award in one state to proceed in a second state for workmen's compensation benefits arising out of the same injury will not be precluded unless the first state's workmen's compensation act in unmistakable language bars the employee from bringing an action in another state.

3. Workmen's Compensation -- Credit for Prior Awards.

A Michigan employer who is liable for workmen's compensation to an employee is entitled to credit for a workmen's compensation award the employee previously recovered in another state from other employers for the same injury.

4. Workmen's Compensation -- Multiple Recovery -- Legislative Purpose.

Double recovery for the same injury is contrary to the fundamental principles of workmen's compensation; the purpose of the compensation acts is to provide a method by which an employee receives compensation for his injuries promptly and without delay of legal procedure and not to give an employer credit for payments made to an employee for the same injury under the law of a foreign state having jurisdiction would defeat this purpose.

5. Workmen's Compensation -- Credit for Prior Awards -- Foreign Awards.

A provision of the Workmen's Compensation Act which prohibits consideration of benefits derived from other sources in fixing workmen's compensation awards does not preclude allowance of credit to the employer for prior awards made to an employee for the same injury under the workmen's compensation acts of other states; the intention that the provision apply to foreign workmen's compensation awards is ambiguous at best, and to preclude credit would allow claimants to receive windfalls not contemplated by the act (MCL 418.811; MSA 17.237[811]).

6. Workmen's Compensation -- Occupational Diseases -- Last Employer.

An employee in order to recover workmen's compensation for a disability resulting from an occupational disease need not prove that work for his last employer was the primary cause of his disability, but the compensation for an occupational disease is recoverable from his last employer in the employment to the nature of which the disease was due and in which it was contracted (MCL 418.435; MSA 17.237[435]).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Williams

Plaintiff John Stanley was employed as an asbestos worker by various employers for approximately 25 years in California and several other states including Michigan, in which he worked for five years. Stanley's work exposed him to excessive dust and in 1966 he first experienced symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pains. In 1967 the plaintiff was laid off in California and found work in Michigan installing blanket insulation on the walls of a boiler at the Trenton powerhouse for Combustion Engineering which resulted in his exposure to fiberglass dust. Defendant Hinchliffe & Kenner employed the plaintiff to continue work on the project from around January 1, 1968 until May 14, 1968 when he left the job because his symptoms had continued to worsen. Stanley returned to California where he was awarded workmen's compensation benefits from multiple California employers for his pulmonary disorder. He then filed a claim for workmen's compensation in Michigan for the same disorder and named Hinchliffe & Kenner as his only liable Michigan employer. The Michigan Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board found that Hinchliffe was liable but decided that Hinchliffe and its insurance carrier, Maryland Casualty Insurance Company, were not entitled to credit for the plaintiff's net recovery from the California award. The Court of Appeals, Quinn, P. J., and McGregor and Carland, JJ., denied leave to appeal to Hinchliffe and Maryland (Docket No. 19863). Defendants Hinchliffe and Maryland appeal (defendant Silicosis and Dust Disease Fund did not participate in this appeal). Held:

1. A workmen's compensation recovery in one state in most instances will not act as an absolute bar to a recovery in a second state, at least in terms of the applicability of the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution (US Const, art IV, § 1).

2. There is no unmistakable language in the California Workmen's Compensation Act which cuts off an employee's right to sue under other legislation, including the Michigan statute.

3. Credit should be given to defendants for the prior California award. Double recovery for the same condition is repugnant to the very principles of workmen's compensation: to preclude credits would allow claimants who suffer from an occupational disease to receive windfalls not intended by the act simply because they had spent some of their employment career out of this state.

4. The evidence supported a finding that Hinchliffe & Kenner was liable as the employer who last employed Stanley in the employment to the nature of which the disease was due and in which it was contracted. (MCL 418.435; MSA 17.237[435]).

Reversed and remanded for determination of the amount of the credit.

This appeal, taken from a split decision of the Michigan Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, concerns the effect of a workmen's compensation disability award made under the workmen's compensation laws of the State of California upon plaintiff's claim for compensation for ...


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