CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson, Rutledge, Burton
MR. JUSTICE MURPHY delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner, Deputy Commissioner of the United States Employees' Compensation Commission, issued an order under the District of Columbia Workmen's Compensation Act*fn1 awarding compensation to the widow of one Clarence H. Ticer. It was specifically found that the injury which led to Ticer's death "arose out of and in the course of the employment." The propriety and effect
of that finding are the main focal points of our inquiry in this case.
Section 1 of the District of Columbia Workmen's Compensation Act provides in part that "the provisions of the Act entitled 'Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act,' . . . shall apply in respect to the injury or death of an employee of an employer carrying on any employment in the District of Columbia, irrespective of the place where the injury or death occurs." The Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act,*fn2 § 2 (2), in turn defines the term "injury" to include "accidental injury or death arising out of and in the course of employment, . . ." A finding that the injury or death was one "arising out of and in the course of employment" is therefore essential to an award of compensation under the District of Columbia Workmen's Compensation Act.
In support of his order in this case the Deputy Commissioner made various findings of fact. These may be summarized as follows:
Ticer and his wife were residents of the District of Columbia. He had been regularly employed since about 1934*fn3 as an electrician by E. C. Ernst, Inc., a contractor engaged in electrical construction work in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas. In November, 1940, Ticer was transferred by his employer from a project in the District of Columbia to a project at the Quantico Marine Base at Quantico, Virginia. His work at the Marine Base continued for over three years until the time of his injury in December, 1943.
There was in effect at all times an agreement between the electrical workers' union and the employer. Section 15 (b) of this agreement provided that "Transportation
and any necessary expense such as board and lodging shall be furnished [by the employer] for all work outside the District of Columbia." The sum of $2 a day was fixed by the parties to this agreement as transportation expense and represented the approximate cost of travel from the District of Columbia to the Quantico Marine Base and return. This sum was paid to Ticer and others in addition to the regular hourly rate of pay. And it was paid in lieu of the employer's furnishing transportation.
Because the job site at the Marine Base was several miles away from the Quantico bus or train terminal, it was necessary for Ticer and his co-workers to drive their own automobiles to and from work. The employees formed a car pool. Each morning they started from their respective homes in their own automobiles and drove to a designated meeting place at Roaches Run, Virginia. From that point they would proceed in one car to the job site at the Marine Base. This procedure was repeated in reverse in the evening. The workers alternated in the use of the cars between Roaches Run and the job site. Non-members of the car pool each paid the car owner $1 for the round trip.
The employer was aware of the means of transportation being used and acquiesced therein. On December 13, 1943, Ticer was driving his car on a direct route from his place of employment to his home, following the close of the day's work. Four co-workers were riding with him, two of them being non-members of the car pool. As the car approached Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a large stone, which came from under the rear wheel of a passing truck, crashed through the windshield of the car. It struck Ticer's head, crushing his skull. Death resulted four days later.
Ticer's widow presented a claim for compensation. At the hearing before the Deputy Commissioner, the employer and the insurance carrier contended that the Virginia Compensation Commission had sole jurisdiction over
the claim and that Ticer's injury did not arise out of or in the course of his employment. The Deputy Commissioner ruled against these contentions. After making the foregoing findings, he entered an order awarding death benefits and funeral expenses to the claimant.
The employer and the insurance carrier then brought this action in the District Court to set aside the order of the Deputy Commissioner. They renewed their jurisdictional objection and alleged a lack of substantial evidence to support the finding that Ticer's injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. The District Court dismissed the complaint, holding that the Deputy Commissioner's findings were supported by evidence in the record and that the compensation order was in all respects in accordance with law. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed, one justice dissenting. 81 U. S. App. D.C. 72, 154 F.2d 529. Without passing upon the jurisdictional issue, the court held that Ticer's injury had not arisen out of and in the course of his employment. It felt that Ticer had become entirely free of his employer's control at the close of the day's work at the Marine Base and that he had thereafter assumed his own risk in subjecting himself to the hazards of the highway. We granted certiorari on a petition alleging a conflict with the decision of this Court in Voehl v. Indemnity Ins. Co., 288 U.S. 162.
As noted, the Court of Appeals deemed it unnecessary to dispose of the question whether the Deputy Commissioner had jurisdiction over the instant claim. But in reviewing an administrative order, it is ordinarily preferable, where the issue is raised and where the record permits an adjudication, for a federal court first to satisfy itself that the administrative agency or officer had jurisdiction over the matter in dispute. At the same ...