Min-Ark. Pallet Co. v. Lindsey

In Min-Ark. Pallet Co. v. Lindsey, 58 Ark. App. 309, 950 S.W.2d 468 (1997) the Court declared that the word "occurrence" in the phrase "notice of the occurrence" requires that the claimant provide notice of "the happening of the hernia itself, not necessarily the work event resulting in the hernia." In that case the claimant suffered a hernia while lifting and stacking wooden pallets. He phoned his mother in the presence of the business owner and told his mother that his side "grabbed" him and "almost dropped me to my knees" and he told the owner that he had some really bad pains but did not know what was wrong. The Commission awarded benefits. On appeal, the employer argued that 11-9-523(a)(4) should be interpreted to mean that the legislature intended the word "occurrence" to describe a work event that causes a hernia. Judge Stroud's opinion in Min-Ark. Pallet Co. states: "We disagree. Even when statutes are strictly construed, they must be construed in their entirety, harmonizing each subsection where possible. The word "occurrence" appears four times within section 11-9-523, two of which are within the phrase "occurrence of the hernia." Ark. Code Ann. 11-9-523(a)(1), (4) & (5). Clearly, when used within this phrase, "occurrence" means the happening of the hernia itself, not necessarily the work event resulting in the hernia. Our construction is buttressed by the fact that subsection (a)(1) addresses the work event causing the hernia: "(t)hat the occurrence of the hernia immediately followed as the result of sudden effort, severe strain, or the application of force directly to the abdominal wall." Appellant's argument would have us give two different meanings to the same word, "occurrence," within the same statute, totally ignoring its use in the phrase "occurrence of the hernia." Rules of strict construction do not require such a strained application of the words of the statute." (Id., 58 Ark. App. at 314-15.)