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STATEN ISLAND RAPID TRANSIT RAILWAY COMPANY v. PHOENIX INDEMNITY COMPANY

decided: March 17, 1930.

STATEN ISLAND RAPID TRANSIT RAILWAY COMPANY
v.
PHOENIX INDEMNITY COMPANY



APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK.

Hughes, Holmes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Stone

Author: Hughes

[ 281 U.S. Page 103]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case was submitted to the state court upon an agreed statement of facts, and presented the question of the validity of a provision of section twenty-nine of the Workmen's Compensation Law of New York under the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Joseph Perroth, in the course of his employment by one Anderson, was killed through the negligence of the appellant, The Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway Company. Perroth left surviving him a dependent, his widow. The administratrix of Perroth brought an action against the appellant to recover damages caused by his death, and the claim was settled by the payment of an amount in excess of that which the dependent would have been entitled to receive under the Workmen's Compensation Law. In these circumstances, there being no right of recovery by the dependent of Perroth against his employer, subdivisions

[ 281 U.S. Page 104]

     eight and nine of section fifteen of the Workmen's Compensation Law became applicable.*fn1

[ 281 U.S. Page 105]

     The scheme of these provisions was the creation of two special funds in the hands of the state treasurer, the one to be used in paying additional compensation to employees incurring permanent total disability after permanent partial disability; and the other, in the vocational education of employees so injured as to need rehabilitation. These special funds were to be maintained by payments by the insurance carrier, as defined in the act,*fn2 of five hundred dollars for each of the two funds in those cases of injury causing death where there were no persons entitled to compensation under the act, and the payments made out of these special funds for the benefit of employees of the described classes were to be over and above the compensation which the act required to be made by the respective employers of such employees.

In the present instance, the respondent, as the insurer of Perroth's employer, paid to the state treasurer the amount of two awards, of five hundred dollars each, made jointly against Perroth's employer and the respondent under subdivisions eight and nine of section fifteen. The respondent then brought this suit under section twenty-nine of the Workmen's Compensation Law to recover this amount from the appellant which had wrongfully caused the death. That section provides:

"In case of the payment of an award to the state treasurer in accordance with subdivisions eight and nine of section fifteen such payment shall operate to give to the employer or insurance carrier liable for the award a cause of action for the amount of such payment together with the reasonable funeral expenses and the expense of medical

[ 281 U.S. Page 106]

     treatment which shall be in addition to any cause of action by the legal ...


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