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Mr. MARCANTONIO. Do you know anything about the first 200 lawsuits?
Mr. LOVE. Were those the ones that were thrown out on account of the statute of limitations?
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Yes.
Mr. Love. The only thing I know about those is what I gathered from the files of the local newspapers there. They showed that the suits had been thrown out by the Supreme Court, which ruled that ignorance of the fact that the men had the disease at the time the statute of limitations became effective did not suspend the statute. The Supreme Court held that the suit had to be filed within a year after the man contracted the disease or left the service of the company, as I remember.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. There was no claim that these men, the workers, did not have silicosis?
Mr. Love. That is a fact.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. The only defense was a technical one, being the operation of the statute of limitations.
Mr. LOVE. Yes.
Mr. LOVE. Yes.
Mr. LOVE. As far as I remember, Mr. Griswold, he may have said that 9 of the 10 had large deposit of silica in their lungs.
Mr. GRISWOLD. That would indicate that of the 10 autopsies which he had performed, 90 percent of them had lungs affected by silica dust.
Mr. Love. Yes. Those were probably hand-picked cases.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Did he state to you how many autopsies, all told, he had performed?
Mr. Love. No; but I believe there were more than 10; possibly 20. Mr. GRISWOLD. Did he say what his discoveries were in the other 10 autopsies?
Mr. LOVE. As I remember, he said that in most cases he examined he found large deposits of silica. He and other doctors in Charleston performed these autopsies on several occasions. I believe he said that Dr. Hayhurst had to do with the matter.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Dr. Hayhurst, Dr. Harless, and some other doctor were appointed a medical commission to make examinations of these victims or alleged victims and discover whether or not they were affected by this disease.
Mr. LOVE. Yes; that is true.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do you know who appointed that commission and paid the members of it, or anything else about it?
Mr. LOVE. That was a result of the lawsuits, Mr. Griswold, and it is possible that those expenses were assessed as part of the cost of the suit. I do not know, but I imagine that such is the case.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do you know who designated them—the court or who else? Was one member designated by the court, one by the plaintiff, and one by the defendant; or how were they designated, if you know?
Mr. Love. I do not know. They were an X-ray man in Charleston, an out-of-town doctor, and Dr. Harless.
Mr. GRISWOLD. One of those doctors came from the State of Ohio? Mr. LOVE. That is right.
Mr. GRISWOLD. I was wondering by whom they were designated and by whom they were paid for their services. Was Dr. Harless at any time, if you know, employed as a doctor by the contractor or the power company?
Mr. Love. No; he was at one time, as a matter of fact for 17 years, a company doctor of the Union Carbide & Carbon Co., which built this tunnel through a subsidiary. He, however, severed his relations with that company before this thing started.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do you know how his relations were severed?
Mr. LOVE. He said that he himself severed them. He said that his private practice had gotten rather large and he had to give his exclusive attention to it. He said he had only the most friendly feeling toward the company and that he felt bad about having to testify against it in these trials.
Mr. GRISWOLD. He felt bad about having to testify against the company because of his friendliness for the company, despite the fact that these afflicted persons were his patients and he was being paid by them.
Mr. Love. He felt that it was his duty to his patients and to the science of medicine to state what he had found by his examination. He did not like to feel that he was persecuting the company, and he felt it was his duty to bring the true facts before the court.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Did your investigation in West Virginia disclose anything about the arrangements that were made between Dr. Harless and the other physicians? For your information I will state that it has been testified here that Dr. Harless received $50 for examining each patient; and he refused to make examinations without payment of $50 each.
Mr. LOVE. Do you refer to the litigants in that connection?
Mr. GRISWOLD. I do not think they were litigants at that time. I refer to the Joneses, for instance.
Mr. LOVE. I did not discover anything about that. Dr. Harless told me that he treated a great many persons free of charge because they did not have any money.
Mr. GRISWOLD. He told you that he treated many of those people free of charge. He did not disclose during the course of your conversation with him the basis on which other doctors he employed to assist him were paid in connection with the $50 examinations that were testified to here?
Mr. Love. No; nothing was said about that.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Did you ever, Mr. Love, make any endeavor to check the pay rolls of the company against the death lists?
Mr. LOVE. No; I had no death lists. The only list available was the list showing the death certificates on file with the West Virginia State Board of Health.
Mr. GRISWOLD. That is what I am talking about, those names on the West Virginia Board of Health list as having died when the tunnel was in course of construction and thereafter around Gauley
Bridge. Did you make any check of that against the pay rolls of the company?
Mr. LOVE. No; the pay rolls of the company were not made available to me. I assumed that they would not be made available to me, and I did not ask for them. The contracting company, as you gentlemen have no doubt been told, was from Charlottesville, Va., and I was not there.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You have not met any member of this board of three medical doctors except Dr. Harless; is that right?
Mr. LOVE. That is right.
Mr. RANDOLPH. What is your personal opinion of Dr. Harless as a physician?
Mr. LOVE. I believe him to be a conscientious man. That is all I could say about him. I do not know anything about medicine, but Dr. Harless seems to be very conscientious about his work, and he takes this matter very seriously.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You would say that he is a man of talent and excellent training in the science of medicine?
Mr. Love. It would be hard to say. I do not know that I am competent to answer the question.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. You have told us that you went up to Vanetta. Mr. LOVE. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. At this time I should like to read into the record an extract from a confidential research bulletin of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. We requested the original of this report yesterday but it has not come. The committee can reliably take my word for it that the extract I shall read is a correct one.
Mr. GRISWOLD. The matter may go into the record at this time.
[Confidential Research Bulletin-Not for release]
FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION
DIVISION OF RESEARCH AND STATISTICS-RESEARCH SECTION
JULY 10, 1934. Subject: 15 wage earners, 14 of whom are dying of silicosis, provide sustenance for entire community of 91 persons at Vanetta, W. Va.
Source: Report of Leon Brower, statistician for West Virginia, National Recovery Administration.
In the early months of 1930 large numbers of able-bodied Negroes were brought to Vanetta, W. Va., an abandoned coal-mining settlement which was prosperous as late as 1925, to engage in the drilling of a 3-mile tunnel required by an electric-power development. The mountain to be pierced was found to consist of pure silicate. In spite of the warnings of the West Virginia Department of Mines the contractors took no precautions against the consequences of the workers of breathing the dust, which causes silicosis, a disease which destroys lung tissues and ultimately causes suffocation. As early as the fall of 1930 thousands of workers died, allegedly of pneumonia, but exact figures are not available as many of the sick were allowed to wander away. The labor turn-over on the job was estimated at more than 300 percent.
On the completion of the project in September 1932, Vanetta reverted to the status of an abandoned village. In 1932 there were 91 persons in residence, occupying 61 tumble-down hovels, 14 children, 44 adult females, and 43 adult males. Of the latter all but 10 have silicosis. Support for the community comes from the earnings of 15 of the males, but 14 of whom suffer from silicosis. Thirteen are engaged on a road-construction project 18 miles away and are forced to walk to and from work, leaving them but 5 hours a day for labor. Moreover many, because of their illness, must lay off work every other day and are frequently too weak to lift a sledge hammer.
Quoting Mr. Brower :
“Coupled with all these hardships is starvation. Relief has always been spasmodic and irregular, and more irregular than is warranted. Every family related the lack of food, and for days at a time during the last winter they had nothing to eat. One white person living in Vanetta kept many from starving. Many of the Negroes went to Gauley and begged for food and work. Several white people in Gauley contribute regularly to the support of some families. Clothing was always inadequate, and there were numerous cases of slightly frozen limbs; also several families were evicted during winter, and nearly every family was served with eviction notices.
“Upon coming to the community, the people were accustomed to three meals a day. During the last two winters, if they had one meal a day, they considered themselves fortunate. The food consisted of white and red beans, corn bread, and sirup. Occasionally they had some sowbelly "white meat”-that is the cheap white pork. No variety existed even for the sick or the children. Milk had been unheard of for at least 2 years.
"Several men, gathered in a group, related ho at first the older folks would economize on food so that the children could have more. And then the men cut their allowance to practically nothing so that the women could eat.
"Direct relief was seldom given. Many families received commodities, but very irregularly. Just three men were given C. W. A. work and these three worked a few weeks only.
“The relief office is 14 miles from the community. These people would get up at 4 o'clock and trudge through the heavy snow to the offices inadequately clothed and hungry. Too often they found that the relief agency was in no position to give assistance.
"The author makes the following recommendations concerning rehabilitation of those destitute Negroes:
"Since those persons are not normally unemployed employables, they will not remain under the F. E. R. A. But for the time being the position of the W. V. R. A. in dealing with all persons having silicosis should be as follows:
"To discourage any person from work if the medical problem indicates the necessity.
"To provide for all the need by direct relief. The relief should be adequate despite the protests of the white people.
"To improve the housing and sanitation programs immediately. A public health nurse should spend a considerable amount of time in Vanetta.
"If these people desire to return home, they should be assisted, probably by the transient bureau. Since these men have a short period to live, as much security as possible should be provided for them. A trained qualified worker should be in this community to assist in the transportation, and to arrange intercommunity contact.
"At any rate, it is inadvisable socially to keep a community of dying persons intact. Every means should be exerted to move these families, so that they may be in communities where they will be accepted, and where the wives and children will find adjustment easier."
Mr. MARCANTONIO. What would you say, after your investigation down there at Vanetta, about the population suffering from silicosis?
Mr. LOVE. The only information I have on that is hearsay. I talked to a man who lived down there and he claimed that practically all the men there had silicosis at that time.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. You have just said that this man told you that all the men there had silicosis. How many lived there?
Mr. Love. I would say, as a guess, about a dozen. A great many colored men lived there while they worked in the tunnel, but many of them left and went to their homes. However, some of the men remained there and went to work in the coal mines and elsewhere.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Some of the witnesses have testified to the brutality of the employers, how the employers forced the men to go into the mine under improper conditions. Did you hear anything about that!
Mr. LOVE. The only statements I heard on that, of course, were the statements of the workers themselves. They did not report that any physical violence had been visited upon them, but they said they were forced to go back into the tunnel while it was still hot from the explosions of dynamite, and anybody who faltered was promptly fired and replaced.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Did Dr. Harless tell you that the result of the investigation of this commission of three doctors showed that of 309 men examined, 137 had silicosis?
Mr. LOVE. I believe he told me that one-half of them had it.
Mr. LOVE. It is just a small settlement. It has been a mining camp. I would say that there are about 24 houses there.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What about Gamoca?
Mr. Love. I did not see any town there. There are three or four houses scattered around on the hillside, and there is this little store. It is what might be called a suburb of Gauley Bridge.
Mr. GRISWOLD. How far is it from Gauley Bridge?
Mr. Love. About a mile. It is on the other side of the Gauley River.
Mr. GRISWOLD. To where do these people go to get their relief payments ?
Mr. LOVE. I do not know.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Is there any connection by rail between these three towns, Gauley Bridge, Gamöca, and Vanetta?
Mr. LOVE. There is a railroad track going past Vanetta to Gauley Bridge. I do not know whether it is anything more than a coal spur. I did not see any train on the line.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Are those towns connected by an improved highway?
Mr Love. The one place you mentioned, I do not remember the name of it
Mr. GRISWOLD. Gamoca.
Mr. LOVE. It is on an improved highway. The only connection between Vanetta and Gamoca is across the river by rowboat. I presume they walk down the railroad track to Gauley Bridge.
Mr. GRISWOLD. If there are no further questions, we thank you for coming before the committee, Mr. Love.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM J. FINKE
Mr. GRISWOLD. Will you please state your name, residence, and occupation ?
Mr. FINKE. My name is William J. Finke, I am a merchant, and I live at the Plymouth
Hotel in New York City. Mr. MARCANTONIO. Did you have any conversation with Dr. Harless in West Virginia; if so, when ?