United States v. Burke, 504 U.S. 229, 15 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 229 (1992)

Scalia, J., concurring in judgment

damages.' " Ante, at 234 (quoting W. Keeton, D. Dobbs, R. Keeton, & D. Owen, Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts 2 (1984)). That is assuredly not, however, the only permissible meaning of the term. Indeed, its more common connotation embraces only physical injuries to the person (as when the consequences of an auto accident are divided into "personal injuries" and "property damage"),2 or perhaps, in addition, injuries to a person's mental health.

"Under the American decisional law, the phrase 'personal injury' denotes primarily an injury to the body of a person. At least some of the courts, however, have not narrowly limited the term, and have concluded that a personal injury or an injury to the person, within the meaning of the law, does not necessarily involve physical contact with the person injured or mere bodily or physical injuries, but may embrace all actionable injuries to the individual himself." 1 S. Speiser, C. Krause, & A. Gans, American Law of Torts 6 (1983).

See also Black's Law Dictionary 786 (6th ed. 1990).

In deciding whether the words go beyond their more narrow and more normal meaning here, the critical factor, in my view, is the fact that "personal injuries" appears not in isolation but as part of the phrase "personal injuries or sickness." As the Court has said repeatedly, "[t]he maxim noscitur a sociis, that a word is known by the company it keeps, while not an inescapable rule, is often wisely applied where a word is capable of many meanings in order to avoid the giving of unintended breadth to the Acts of Congress." Jarecki v. G. D. Searle & Co., 367 U. S. 303, 307 (1961). The term "sickness" connotes a "[d]iseased condition; illness; [or] ill health," Webster's New International Dictionary 2329-2330 (2d ed. 1950), and I think that its companion must similarly be read

2 As it happens, this was the IRS' original understanding with regard to 104(a)(2)'s predecessor, 213(b)(6) of the Revenue Act of 1918, 40 Stat. 1066. See, e. g., S. 1384, 2 Cum. Bull. 71 (1920).


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