Corbin v. Kohler Co., No. 3554.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtANDERSON, J.
Citation351 S.C. 613,571 S.E.2d 92
PartiesJames R. CORBIN, Claimant, Respondent, v. KOHLER COMPANY, Self-Insured Employer, Appellant.
Decision Date07 October 2002
Docket NumberNo. 3554.

351 S.C. 613
571 S.E.2d 92

James R. CORBIN, Claimant, Respondent,
v.
KOHLER COMPANY, Self-Insured Employer, Appellant

No. 3554.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard September 12, 2002.

Decided October 7, 2002.


351 S.C. 615
Mary Lou Hill, of Greenville, for Appellant

J. Mark Hayes, II, of Spartanburg, for Respondent.

ANDERSON, J.

Kohler Company appeals the decision of the Circuit Court affirming an award of Workers' Compensation. Kohler argues: (1) the Circuit Court did not apply the correct standard of review; (2) the record does not support the Circuit Court's decision; and (3) the Circuit Court erred in finding Kohler was not entitled to set off for payments it made to Corbin under a salary continuation plan. We affirm.

351 S.C. 616
FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

James R. Corbin (Corbin) worked in the casting department at Kohler Company in Spartanburg for forty-one years. Corbin testified that, during his career at Kohler, he was exposed to significant amounts of silica dust. In 1999, he first began having respiratory symptoms, including a dry cough which progressed to some shortness of breath and loss of stamina. Corbin's family physician referred him to Dr. Douglas Clark, a pulmonary specialist. Additionally, he was seen by Dr. Mary Lou Applebaum, a pulmonary specialist in the same office as Dr. Clark. In August 1999, Dr. Applebaum removed Corbin from work and advised him he had silicosis.

Corbin filed a Form 50 seeking Workers' Compensation benefits for the silicosis. Kohler denied the compensability of his claim.

Corbin was evaluated by several doctors in connection with his illness, in addition to Drs. Applebaum and Clark. Dr. William Stewart reviewed Corbin's medical records and other factors to provide a vocational and rehabilitation assessment. Dr. Donald Schlueter examined the records of Dr. Applebaum and her partners. Drs. Kevin Kopera and Arden Levy also evaluated Corbin.

In his order, the Single Commissioner found that Corbin sustained an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of his employment at Kohler. He found Corbin's occupational disease was silicosis resulting from prolonged exposure to silica dust in the workplace and Corbin was permanently and totally disabled as a result of his occupational disease. The Commissioner denied Kohler credit for benefits paid to Corbin under his salary continuation program, and ordered the payment of 500 weeks compensation in addition to reimbursement and coverage of all medical, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other expenses related to Corbin's occupational disease. Kohler appealed the order to the full Workers' Compensation Commission.

The Commission upheld the Single Commissioner's decision in its entirety. Kohler appealed. The Circuit Court affirmed the findings of the Commission and dismissed the appeal.

351 S.C. 617
ISSUES
I. Did the Circuit Court apply the correct standard of review in upholding the decision of the Commission?
II. Does the record support the Circuit Court's finding that the Commission's decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole?
III. Did the Circuit Court err in finding that Kohler was not entitled to a set off from the Commission's award to Corbin for compensation paid under the salary continuation plan?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The South Carolina Administrative Procedures Act (APA) establishes the standard for judicial review of decisions of the Workers' Compensation Commission. Gibson v. Spartanburg School Dist. No. 3, 338 S.C. 510, 526 S.E.2d 725 (Ct.App.2000); Hamilton v. Bob Bennett Ford, 336 S.C. 72, 518 S.E.2d 599 (Ct.App.1999). In an appeal from the Commission, this Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Commission as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact, but may reverse where the decision is affected by an error of law. Hamilton, 336 S.C. at 76, 518 S.E.2d at 601. The appellate court's review is limited to deciding whether the Commission's decision is unsupported by substantial evidence or is controlled by some error of law. Id. The findings of an administrative agency are presumed correct and will be set aside only if unsupported by substantial evidence. Hicks v. Piedmont Cold Storage, 335 S.C. 46, 515 S.E.2d 532 (1999); Broughton v. South of the Border, 336 S.C. 488, 520 S.E.2d 634 (Ct.App. 1999). It is not within our province to reverse findings of the Commission which are supported by substantial evidence. Hunter v. Patrick Constr. Co., 289 S.C. 46, 344 S.E.2d 613 (1986); Broughton, 336 S.C. at 496, 520 S.E.2d at 637.

Substantial evidence is not a mere scintilla of evidence, nor the evidence viewed blindly from one side of the case, but is evidence which, considering the record as a whole, would allow reasonable minds to reach the conclusion the administrative agency reached in order to justify its action. Miller v. State Roofing Co., 312 S.C. 452, 441 S.E.2d 323 (1994); Muir v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 336 S.C. 266, 519 S.E.2d 583

351 S.C. 618
(Ct.App.1999). "Indeed, the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency's findings from being supported by substantial evidence." Muir, 336 S.C. at 282, 519 S.E.2d at 591

LAW/ANALYSIS

I. Standard of Review

Kohler contends the Circuit Court failed to apply the correct standard of judicial review in upholding the decision of the Commission. We disagree.

At the hearing before the Circuit Court, the following colloquy occurred:

THE COURT: All right. I'm looking at Page 12 of the order. And it alleged—I mean, it's based on claimant's functional limitations and report of Dr. William Stewart, it is clear that claimant is and will be permanently and totally disabled. Where can I find Dr. Stewart's—this is it right here. William Stewart?
MS. HILL: Yes. Dr. Stewart talks about disability. But Dr. Stewart does not connect the disability to silicosis. And the finding on functional limitation, there is no functional limitation other than he's got to stay out of dust.
THE COURT: Well, both of you are aware I've got to see if there is any evidence, basically.
MS. HILL: I understand, Your Honor.
. . .
THE COURT: [Dr. Stewart] says he concluded his prognosis was successful vocational rehabilitation to some kind of lighter work job be considered very poor to nonexistent. If we were to assume he could, in fact, return to some kind of alternative work, he has concluded—and then he goes into that he could only earn $7.50 an hour. Is that not enough evidence for the coupled with what they call functional limitations? Isn't that some evidence on which they could base their opinion?
MS. HILL: This is evidence by a vocational expert that, in his opinion, he is going to have a hard time finding a job with his limitation of not being able to work in dust, strong
351 S.C. 619
fumes, or odors. But nowhere in here does he say that his disability is caused by the occupational disease of silicosis. And that's my point. There is no evidence on the causal connection between this man's impairment, even if he has some, even if he has silicosis, and his disability.
THE COURT: Well, I thought Dr. Applebaum said he did have silicosis.
MS. HILL: He—yes, she certainly did.
THE COURT: Well, isn't that enough? You don't have to have 15 doctors. Once the Workers Comp. Commission has any evidence that he had silicosis—and Dr. Applebaum says he does—isn't that—doesn't that jump the hurdle?
MS. HILL: She said he had silicosis. She put no functional limitations on him other than he can't work where it's real dusty.
THE COURT: Well, let's take it one step at the time. Doesn't that get him over the first hurdle, though? Doesn't that put him—having silicosis?
MS. HILL: Yes.
THE COURT: And doesn't that also put it as a result of inhaling silica while employed at Kohler Company, as she states in so many word[s]?
MS. HILL: Yes, but she never states that it resulted in a disability that
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73 practice notes
  • Hall v. United Rentals, Inc., No. 4166.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2006
    ...S.C. 214, 628 S.E.2d 262 (Ct.App.2006); Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 593 S.E.2d 491 (Ct.App.2004); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 571 S.E.2d 92 (Ct.App.2002); see Lockridge v. Santens of Am., Inc., 344 S.C. 511, 515, 544 S.E.2d 842, 844 (Ct.App.2001) ("Any review of the ......
  • Thompson ex rel. Harvey v. Cisson Const., No. 4339.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 1, 2008
    ...S.E.2d 262, 266 (Ct.App.2006); Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 527, 593 S.E.2d 491, 494 (Ct.App.2004); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 617, 571 S.E.2d 92, 94-95 (Ct. App.2002); Lockridge v. Santens of America, Inc., 344 S.C. 511, 515, 544 S.E.2d 842, 844 (Ct.App.2001). The A......
  • Coastal Conservation v. Dept. of Health, No. 4450.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2008
    ...at 859; Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. S.C. Second Injury Fund, 363 S.C. 612, 619, 611 S.E.2d 297, 300 (Ct.App.2005); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 617, 571 S.E.2d 92, 95 (Ct.App.2002). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla of evidence. Whitworth, 377 S.C. at 640, 661 S.E.2d at......
  • Houston v. Deloach & Deloach, No. 4408.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 10, 2008
    ...S.E.2d 262, 266 (Ct.App.2006); Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 527, 593 S.E.2d 491, 494 (Ct.App.2004); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 617, 571 S.E.2d 92, 94-95 (Ct. App.2002); Lockridge v. Santens of America, Inc., 344 S.C. 511, 515, 544 S.E.2d 842, 844 (Ct.App.2001). The a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
73 cases
  • Hall v. United Rentals, Inc., No. 4166.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2006
    ...S.C. 214, 628 S.E.2d 262 (Ct.App.2006); Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 593 S.E.2d 491 (Ct.App.2004); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 571 S.E.2d 92 (Ct.App.2002); see Lockridge v. Santens of Am., Inc., 344 S.C. 511, 515, 544 S.E.2d 842, 844 (Ct.App.2001) ("Any review of the ......
  • Thompson ex rel. Harvey v. Cisson Const., No. 4339.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 1, 2008
    ...S.E.2d 262, 266 (Ct.App.2006); Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 527, 593 S.E.2d 491, 494 (Ct.App.2004); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 617, 571 S.E.2d 92, 94-95 (Ct. App.2002); Lockridge v. Santens of America, Inc., 344 S.C. 511, 515, 544 S.E.2d 842, 844 (Ct.App.2001). The A......
  • Coastal Conservation v. Dept. of Health, No. 4450.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2008
    ...at 859; Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. S.C. Second Injury Fund, 363 S.C. 612, 619, 611 S.E.2d 297, 300 (Ct.App.2005); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 617, 571 S.E.2d 92, 95 (Ct.App.2002). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla of evidence. Whitworth, 377 S.C. at 640, 661 S.E.2d at......
  • Houston v. Deloach & Deloach, No. 4408.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 10, 2008
    ...S.E.2d 262, 266 (Ct.App.2006); Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 527, 593 S.E.2d 491, 494 (Ct.App.2004); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 617, 571 S.E.2d 92, 94-95 (Ct. App.2002); Lockridge v. Santens of America, Inc., 344 S.C. 511, 515, 544 S.E.2d 842, 844 (Ct.App.2001). The a......
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