History 430: Theory and Practice

Document Type

Undergraduate Research

Publication Date

Spring 5-12-2011


Workmen's compensation is an evolved form of disability. It started in the 1920s and is still changing today. J.E. Halterman found this out when he went to work one day for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company in 1930 in Coffeyville, Kansas. He left work missing the first three fingers on his right hand from working with a buzz saw. He sued the company for compensation of the loss of his fingers. During the trial it came out that the shield on the buzz saw was so defective and worn that it could not perform its job to protect the worker. He lost the fingers in the company's shop because of the company's negligence. Halterman was wearing his protective gear and should not have had to lose his fingers in order for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company to replace and be aware of the dangers of this piece of equipment. This and other stories helped shape the workmen's compensation statues in each of the states that exist today.