If a "Goodie", seeing a mouse in a dormitory fireplace, should climb upon a cane-seated chair, with a resulting sudden descent and sprained ankle, would the University be liable for damages? If a Yard man-with-a-hoe should fall while pursuing a Yard squirrel, would the University be obliged to pay his doctor's-bills? If one is to judge by cases cited in a recent report of the Labor Board, the answer of both these questions is; Yes. The array of problems that have recently come up for its consideration are a reductio ad absurdum of the compensation law. Among the petitioners for remuneration is a prisoner in the Sing-Sing death chamber. Another man won damages against his employer because, while engaged in his work, he was mistaken for a rabbit by a party of hunters and filled full of buckshot. Another award was made on the fact that a man accidentally cut himself with a tool with which he was trying to ease a tight shoe on his own foot.
The injustice of the Employees' Compensation Law, when carried to such extremes, is evident. It is wholly fair that an employer should recompense his worker for injuries suffered in the natural pursuit of his duties and from accidents growing out of risks taken in entering that employ. But when the harm is caused entirely by another party, by external chance, or, most of all, by the neglect or carelessness of the employee, it seems clear that the employer should not be held responsible. The mere fact that the man was injured while engaged in his work is no more ground for holding the employer responsible than for holding a landlord responsible for acts committed by his tenants.