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Mr. MARCANTONIO. That was the only justification that company offered for the payment of the $20,000?
Mr. Mason. The attorneys who were later employed to represent some of the cases were not included in the settlement, and when I gave them the information about that story they confronted Mr. Falconer with it at Charlottesville, which is the main office of the Rinehart & Dennis Co. Mr. Falconer told them the same I had been told-namely, that the money had been paid in good faithand that was as much as could be gotten from Rinehart & Dennis Co.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. I want to offer now for the record a letter received by one of the victims of silicosis from the firm of Rinehart & Dennis Co. It reads as follows:
RINEHART & DENNIS Co.,
Charlottesville, Va., August 26, 1935. Mr. ARTHUR PEYTON,
Gauley Bridge, W. Va. DEAR SIR: Replying to your letter of the 22d, will say that I do not think it would be proper for me to give you the information you asked for, as the transaction we had with Townsend, Bock & Moore was confidential. Regretting that I am unable to assist you in this matter, I am, Very truly yours,
E. J. PERKINS. Mr. MARCANTONIO. Mr. Peyton had written to Rinehart & Dennis requesting information in connection with some additional money he had received after his settlement.
After Mr. Peyton had received a check marked, “In full payment and in full settlement of all claims against Rinehart & Dennis et al.", he subsequently, on June 20, 1934, received the following letter from his attorneys:
LILLY & LILLY,
Charleston, W. Va., June 20, 1934. Mr. ARTHUR PEYTON,
Glen Ferrie, W. Va. (In re: Peyton v. Rinehart & Dennis et al.) DEAR SIR: We take pleasure in enclosing herewith our check, payable to you, for $21.59, being one-half of the residue which we were able to collect in your behalf in regard to the above case.
In winding up the various suits, after collecting all we could, we find this balance due you. With regards, we are Very truly,
A. A. LILLY. Mr. MARCANTONIO. Do you know whether these additional payments were paid from the $10,000 extracted by this law firm from the $20,000 it received from Rinehart & Dennis Co.?
Mr. MASON. I would say that was from the proceeds of the $10,000.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. In other words, these attorneys, when confronted with the fact that they had received $20,000 from Rinehart & Dennis, paid to the attorneys who subsequently represented the victims the sum of $10,000 ?
Mr. Mason. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Which was subsequently distributed among the victims?
Mr. MASON. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Which was described by some of the attorneys as a residue, such as is described in the letter.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. I understood you to say that you had been reliably informed that about 500 persons were buried in that neighborhood after contracting this disease known as silicosis.
Mr. Mason. Yes.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Does that county and the State of West Virginia keep a record of persons who die and are buried?
Mr. Mason. I could not answer that, Mr. Dunn.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. I should like to have that information for the committee, if it is possible to get it.
Mr. Mason. In that connection, some information came to us in the course of our handling those cases that Rinehart and Dennis, prior to going into the construction of that tunnel, made a careful survey of all the conditions it saw. They brought chemists and engineers to the job, and they even obtained medical advice. That is the story we were told, but we could not connect it up sufficiently to put it in at the trial. The information was that Rinehart & Dennis had been truly informed of the possible development of silicosis among those employees; that the firm of Rinehart & Dennis had been further advised that they could come in there, complete their work, and be out and gone before any of these men were victimized. In other words, the contractors would then be immune from litigation.
I should say that those deaths occurred over a period of about 18 months.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. In other words, the contractors knew when they started that work that the men they employed would eventually die from silicosis?
Mr. MÁSON. That is my information. It is a matter of common knowledge and a matter of fact that Rinehart & Dennis Co. sold the silica that was obtained from this tunnel as silica.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Did they sell it outside of the State of West Virginia ?
Mr. Mason. No, sir; they sold it to the Electro Metallurgical plant at Alloy.
Mr. ÞUNN of Pennsylvania. The fact that these contractors had obtained this information; they knew the law of West Virginia; they knew if they should provide the employees with respirators, and if they would resort to wet drilling instead of dry drilling, silicosis would not have developed.
Mr. Mason. That is correct.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. They deliberately and malicously violated the law and they are no doubt responsible for the death of 300 or 400 people.
Mr. Mason. That language is strong, but I think it is true.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. When they were caught at it they resorted to the methods employed by gunmen, ordinary machine-gun racketeers. They cowardly tried to buy out the people who had the information on them.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. I do not like to make any terrible statements against the good State of West Virginia; I do not doubt that if we should investigate other States we would find the same condition prevailing in mills and factories. I learned this morning about a deplorable condition that exists at York, Pa. I wonder what we can do now, not in the future, to put a stop to this inhuman
practice. If we pass a Federal law, it will be instantly said by certain groups of our citizens that the act is unconstitutional. Probably we could not get anywhere. I hope the time is not far distant when we may wipe out State lines and State laws and pass Federal laws that will benefit all citizens alike. As it is, everything that is passed for the alleviation of human misery and for the benefit of the masses is declared to be unconstitutional. I should like very much to do something constructive at this session of the Congress.
Mr. RANDOLPH. You mentioned $10,000 as the amount that you agreed upon. Mr. MASON. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Previous to the $10,000 being offered in settlement, you felt that $130,000 was not sufficient for 96 clients. Will you please tell the committee your reasons for entering into the final agreement calling for $10,000. Mr. Mason. There was no choice; we had to take that or nothing. Mr. RANDOLPH. What did they say to you?
Mr. Mason. I was associated at 'first in Charleston with a very high-grade gentleman, to whom I looked for advice just the same as I would look to my own father. I refer to Thomas Townsend.
Mr. RANDOLPH. He is attorney for the United Mine Workers there.
Mr. Mason. Yes. I went over the situation with Mr. Townsend, told him the story, and after consultation with him he advised me to go ahead and take the $10,000 rather than prosecute, and that is what I did.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. This $10,000 had nothing to do with the amount paid for settlement of the lawsuits. That was a result of your action when you discovered that Mr. Perkins, of Rinehart & Dennis Co., had paid $20,000 to these attorneys.
Mr. MASON. That is right. Mr. MARCANTONIO. And these attorneys paid back only $10,000, which was distributed among the unfortunate victims of silicosis?
Mr. Mason. That is correct. Mr. RANDOLPH. These records of which you speak, the records at Charleston. If this committee should need them, could you produce them?
Mr. Mason. Yes.
Mr. RANDOLPH. If there are no further questions, we want to thank you, Mr. Mason, for your statement.
There being no further witness this morning, the committee will now adjourn, to meet tomorrow morning at 10:30, when we will hear Dr. Sayers, in charge of industrial hygiene for the United States Public Health Service.
(Thereupon at 11:10 a. m., Jan. 27, 1936, the subcommittee ad. journed, to meet at 10:30 a. m., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 1936.)
INVESTIGATION RELATING TO HEALTH CONDITIONS OF
WORKERS EMPLOYED IN THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC UTILITIES
TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 1936
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON LABOR,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee this day met at 10:30 a. m., Hon. Jennings Randolph presiding, for further consideration of House Joint Resolution 149 to authorize the Secretary of Labor to appoint a board of inquiry to ascertain the facts relating to health conditions of workers employed in the construction and maintenance of public utilities.
STATEMENT OF SURGEON R. R. SAYERS, UNITED STATES
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE
Mr. RANDOLPH. The subcommittee will resume hearings, and our first witness this morning will be Dr. R. R. Sayers, who is in charge of industrial hygiene in the United States Public Health Service.
If you desire, Dr. Sayers, it would perhaps be better for you to make any statement you are to make and then let us ask you questions.
Dr. SAYERS. Anyway you gentlemen may choose. I am a senior surgeon in the United States Public Health Service, and I am medical officer in charge of the office of Industrial Hygiene and Sanitation.
The United States Public Health Service is, of course, interested in anything that has to do with the public health, and that includes people who are working as well as others.
As you gentlemen know, there are about 50 million persons gainfully employed in the United States, or were employed in 1930, and about 15 million of them are in the mechanical, manufacturing, and mineral industries. It becomes a public health problem as to the effect of these industries upon public health.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Could you, Dr. Sayers, break that down a little more in connection with the mining industry?
Dr. SAYERS. Yes. Mr. RANDOLPH. Please do so, if you will. Dr. SAYERS. You refer particularly to the mineral industry? Mr. RANDOLPH. That is right. Dr. SAYERS. In the mineral industry we have mining, metallurgical work, quarrying, and so forth. In the mining and the metallurgical industries there are about a million persons employed.