Del Vecchio v. Bowers
296 U.S. 280 (1935)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Del Vecchio v. Bowers, 296 U.S. 280 (1935)

Del Vecchio v. Bowers

No. 37

Argued November 13, 14, 1935

Decided December 9, 1935

296 U.S. 280

Syllabus

1. A decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia construing the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act -- the Act being national in scope, and not confined in its operation to the District of Columbia, where it applies as a workmen's compensation law -- may present a question of general importance which this Court will review on certiorari. P. 296 U. S. 285.

2. Section 3(b) of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides that "No compensation shall be payable if the injury was occasioned solely . . . by the willful intention of the employee to injure or kill himself. . . ." Section 20 provides that, in any proceeding to enforce a claim for compensation under the Act,

"it shall be presumed, in the absence of substantial evidence to the contrary -- . . . (d) That the injury was not occasioned by the willful intention of the injured employee to injure or kill himself . . ."

In a proceeding upon a claim for compensation based on the death of an employee from a self-inflicted injury, the evidence was equally consistent with accident and suicide. The deputy commissioner made a finding of suicide, and denied an award.

Held:

Page 296 U. S. 381

(1) The requirement that evidence to overcome the presumption created by § 20(d) must be substantial adds nothing to the general principle that a finding must be supported by evidence. P. 296 U. S. 286.

(2) The presumption does not have the force of evidence in the claimant's favor, and vanishes from the case upon introduction by the employer of evidence sufficient to justify a finding of suicide. P. 296 U. S. 286.

(3) Where the evidence in the case permits an inference either way on the question of suicide, the decision of the deputy commissioner as to the weight of it is conclusive, and not subject to judicial review. P. 296 U. S. 287.

(4) The deputy commissioner's finding of suicide in this case was supported by evidence, and his order refusing an award should not have been set aside. P. 296 U. S. 287.

64 App.D.C. 226, 76 F.2d 996, reversed.

Certiorari, 295 U.S. 728, to review a Judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which reversed a Judgment of the Supreme Court of the District sustaining an order of a deputy commissioner refusing an award of compensation under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

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