Canterbury v. Valley Bell Dairy Co

In Canterbury v. Valley Bell Dairy Co., 142 W.Va. 154, 95 S.E.2d 73 (1956), the Court reviewed the question of whether an employer had lost is workers' compensation immunities and defenses because the employer had failed to report as wages certain sums paid an employee by the employee's co-worker. 142 W.Va. at 155, 95 S.E.2d at 74. The employer in Canterbury had paid certain employees, working as helpers to its truck drivers, a very minimal wage and had paid workers' compensation premiums based only upon those wages. The drivers who were assisted by the helpers often paid the helpers an additional stipend, presumably drawn from their own wages. This additional compensation was not reported as wages for the helpers, nor was any premium paid by the employer on that supplemental compensation. When one of the helpers was killed in a workplace accident, his personal representative brought a wrongful death action against the employer, claiming that the employer had lost it workers' compensation immunities and defenses. In the lower court, a verdict was returned and a judgment rendered based upon a determination that the immunities and defenses had been lost. The Court reversed the lower court judgment, finding that the supplemental payments by the drivers to the helpers were not wages paid by the employer. Id. at 159, 95 S.E.2d at 76.