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Action against a Mutual Aid Society

Loughborough Herald - June 21st 1900

Thomas Pilkington, groom, Freehold Street, Quorn, sued the officers and committee of the Quorn Mutual Aid society for 4 10s sick allowance, claimed by plaintiff as a member of the society. Mr Moss was for plaintiff, and Mr J H Deane for the defendant society.

The particulars stated by Mr Moss were that plaintiff was employed at Quorn Kennels. On March 8 he sustained an accident which incapacitated him from work, and he claimed sick pay from the society, but it was refused him, and though no reason was given at first it was afterwards alleged that the sickness was due to plaintiff's misconduct, and that under the rules he was not entitled to the allowance.

The circumstances of the affair were that on March 8 a load of corn came to the kennels. Plaintiff set the men over whom he had authority to unload it, and one of them, Sam Bryant, refused. The shilling beer money was divided amongst the four men who worked, and "Sam" got nothing. Later he started trouble over this beer money, and struck plaintiff. They closed and fell, and plaintiff's leg was broken. He was taken to the Loughborough Hospital, and remained there for five weeks and two days.

Mr Deane said his first point was that this matter had been fully considered at a general meeting of the members, at which plaintiff was given an opportunity of making a statement, and they decided that he was not entitled to compensation. Therefore, Mr Deane contended that the matter did not rest with his Honour, having been settled by the society. If his Honour was against him on that he should argue that the sickness was due to the plaintiff's own misconduct.

His Honour said if the pay was disallowed in accordance with the rules he could not interfere. The question was whether the plaintiff fell sick through his own misconduct, and there was nothing in the rules to say who was to decide that. It was no good going into the question of misconduct if the committee had the right to settle the question, and there was no rule showing that they had that right.

Mr Deane submitted that Rule 18 would apply: "That in case of anything taking place which there is not rule to apply to, the same to be settled by the committee". His Honour said he would hear the evidence on the question whether the sickness was the result of the plaintiff's own misconduct.

Pilkington, the plaintiff, gave evidence as to the occurrence, stating that Bryant struck him first, and he closed with him in order to prevent him striking again. Cross-examined: The shilling referred to was "carry money" for unloading the corn. It was usual to give 1s for ten quarters of corn. This load was 15 quarters, so the "carry money" was 6d short. It was not suggested that plaintiff had put the 6d in his pocket. Bryant was detained by the police, on the evening of the occurrence, but after they had made inquiries they let him go. Plaintiff had never taken proceedings against Bryant, as he had gone away from the place.

Robert Kelly, another groom, and Sergt. Holland, gave evidence, the latter stating that Bryant was invited to come to Loughborough, and explain the matter. He said that they had a quarrel over some beer, and that in trying to avoid a blow from him (Bryant), Pilkington fell over a form.

Mr Deane thought that his Honour would come to the same conclusion as the committee, that the defendant's injury was the result of his own misconduct. It was clearly a case of deliberate fighting between the men.

The Judge, said it appeared rather to be an unjustifiable assault by a man who thought he ought to have share in beer money for which he had not worked. As the case stood at present, he (the judge) could not see a tittle of evidence amounting to misconduct on the part of the plaintiff. But the question was whether he or the club were the persons to decide that.

John William Webster, secretary of the society, proved the meetings, and produced minutes. On March 30th the committee decided to reserve decision until Pilkington took proceedings against Bryant. A general meeting was held on April 27, at which plaintiff gave the same statement he had given at Court. A resolution was proposed that he should receive his sick pay, but an amendment that it should not be allowed was carried by 17 votes to 14. This dispute being one for which no rule was provided, it came under Rule 18 to the committee who called a general meeting to decide it. The case was postponed for proceedings to be taken against Bryant, and the committee would then have abided by the decision of those proceedings. There were only 31 members present out of 190.

In answer to the Judge, witness said he say Bryant a few days after the occurrence, and he said it was an accident, but he "meant to have his threepennyworth out of Pilkington".

W S Searle, a member of the committee, was the last witness. His Honour said if the matter was for him to decide he was in favour of the plaintiff. He did not think that any misconduct had been proved, and so he should be entitled to his money. He thought he was gratuitously assaulted, and that came within the meaning of the word accident. It was, however, a serious question of whether he (the Judge) had to decide it or the committee, and he should adjourn the case for a month for further consideration.

   
 Submitted on: 2009-07-19
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 370
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page
 
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