Frame v. Resort Services Inc., No. 3732.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtANDERSON, J.
Citation357 S.C. 520,593 S.E.2d 491
PartiesTed FRAME, Claimant/Employee, Respondent, v. RESORT SERVICES INCORPORATED, Employer, and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, Carrier, Appellants.
Decision Date02 February 2004
Docket NumberNo. 3732.

357 S.C. 520
593 S.E.2d 491

Ted FRAME, Claimant/Employee, Respondent,
v.
RESORT SERVICES INCORPORATED, Employer, and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, Carrier, Appellants

No. 3732.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard January 14, 2004.

Decided February 2, 2004.


357 S.C. 522
Robert W. Achurch, III and Mary Bass Lohr, of Beaufort, for Appellants

Coleman Hookaylo, Jr., of Hilton Head Island, for Respondent.

ANDERSON, J.:

Resort Services Incorporated (RSI), employer, and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, carrier, appeal an order by the circuit court which adopted the findings of the Workers' Compensation Commission and granted Ted Frame, employee, full benefits for mental illness under the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act. We reverse and remand.

357 S.C. 523
FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Ted Frame began his employment with RSI, a commercial laundry business, as a route sales driver in March 1985. After establishing himself as a "jack of all trades" and an "excellent employee," Frame was promoted to route sales manager sometime between 1991 and 1993 and again to production manager in 1997. By the time he ended his employment with RSI, a family owned business run by the five sons of founder Jerry Reeves, Frame was known within the company as the sixth Reeves brother, having many of the same responsibilities and ostensibly the authority of a co-owner.

Both Frame and RSI agree that he had a very difficult and stress inducing job throughout his employment with RSI. As a route sales driver, he would often work up to fourteen hours a day, and it was not uncommon to put in sixty to seventy hours a week. In both the route sales manager and production manager positions, his responsibilities were increased and the amount of time his job required remained around sixty to seventy-five hours a week, depending on the season, often working weekends. Furthermore, his level of job-related stress was aggravated by what he perceived to be management's continual incompetence, violations of law (Department of Transportation and environmental regulations), conflicting orders, disregard of proper chain of command, overt racism,1 and sexual misconduct on the part of some of his five bosses. Frame professed that many of the circumstances which eventually led to his heightened level of job-related stress, particularly racist remarks by management, reporting and receiving conflicting orders from multiple bosses and having to rush between several different areas of the business, had been present for about five years before the date he left the employ of the company.

Throughout his fifteen years of employment, especially in the last five years, Frame had feelings of frustration, helplessness and outrage at the practices of his supervisors. He testified to several instances where he fired employees for

357 S.C. 524
violations of the company's drug and alcohol policy, which he was charged to enforce, only to have the Reeves brothers rehire them a month later. There were occasions when truck maintenance, hauling practices, and the plant's compliance with environmental regulations were responded to with perceived apathy by the Reeves brothers. Frame believed this rose to the level of a violation of law. His dissatisfaction with his job was exacerbated throughout his employment by feelings that its demands were destroying his family life

On September 9, 1999, an outside vendor of paper goods arrived at RSI with a delivery. Two boxes of paper towels, damaged during delivery, were deemed below the quality standards of the company and were removed from the bill. The driver of the truck, expressing his intention of throwing the products away, instead gave the products to the employees of RSI. One employee, driver Kevin Moore, an outstanding employee by RSI's own testimony, took some of the towels home with him at the end of his shift.

Frame arrived to work the following morning to find Michelle Johnson, a purchasing agent for the company and Frame's subordinate, loudly accusing Moore of being a thief. Frame attempted to explain to Johnson the situation, namely that the paper products were given free of charge from the vendor, but Johnson continued to accuse Moore and seek action from Frame. When Frame became annoyed by Johnson's continual finger pointing, he inquired into the cost of the paper towels had the company been charged by the vendor, wrote the company a check for that amount (about thirty-five dollars) and handed it to Johnson.

The Reeves brothers were conducting a family business meeting on the day in question. Johnson, alleged paramour of Michael Reeves, quickly approached him as he left the meeting and told him of the events of the day.2 Michael Reeves, siding with his alleged girlfriend, sought out Frame and explained to him that it was a violation of company policy to allow an employee to receive free items. According to Frame,

357 S.C. 525
Michael Reeves expanded on the policy by adding, "[Kevin Moore] is a thief and liar. [A]ll black people are thieves and liars and ... you've got to watch out for it."

Over Frame's assertions that Moore was innocent of any wrongdoing, Michael Reeves continued to state his position on the alleged towel theft until Frame suffered a complete mental breakdown. In his own words, "I think really what topped the notch was with Michelle and the paper products that said that Kevin stole and then Michael told me that blacks were all thieves and liars. I think that's what really snapped." Frame told his boss to leave Moore alone, placed his pager and phone down, went out to his truck and started crying. He never returned to work in his previous capacity.

After expressing to family and friends his breakdown and an onslaught of suicidal tendencies following the above incident, Frame was examined by a psychologist and a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist and psychologist agree: (1) that Frame suffers from a bipolar type of psychosis; (2) on the day in question he experienced what is known as a "decompensation" (a mental breakdown); (3) there is a certain genetic predisposition to this kind of psychosis; (4) this "decompensation" was the result of job-related stress; and (5) it was in no way certain that Frame would experience such a mental collapse regardless of exterior stimuli (i.e., his job). According to the psychiatrist and psychologist, Frame is not currently capable of full-time work.

Frame claimed entitlement to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act. A hearing before a single commissioner resulted in an order granting Frame full benefits. The order of the single commissioner reads:

1. The Claimant was predisposed to mental illness, although it is unclear whether the predisposition was as a result of genetics or something else. The basis of the predisposition is not relevant.
2. The Claimant's work stress was a contributing factor to the decompensation and was the major contributing factor.
3. Particular stressors in the workplace included: answering to "five bosses"; the constant anxiety resulting from escalating pressure associated with being on call. Other
357 S.C. 526
examples were trying to cut costs without cooperation, insufficient fire extinguishers to
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66 practice notes
  • Hall v. United Rentals, Inc., No. 4166.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2006
    ...in a Workers' Compensation decision. Gadson v. Mikasa Corp., 368 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.......
  • Thompson ex rel. Harvey v. Cisson Const., No. 4339.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 1, 2008
    ...substantial evidence standard. Gadson v. Mikasa Corp., 368 S.C. 214, 221, 628 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......
  • Hall v. Desert Aire, Inc., No. 4324.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2007
    ...court's province to reverse findings of the Appellate Panel which are supported by substantial evidence. Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 528, 593 S.E.2d 491, 495 (Ct.App.2004); Broughton v. South of the Border, 336 S.C. 488, 496, 520 S.E.2d 634, 656 S.E.2d 758 637 (Ct.App.1999).......
  • Houston v. Deloach & Deloach, No. 4408.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 10, 2008
    ...substantial evidence standard. Gadson v. Mikasa Corp., 368 S.C. 214, 221, 628 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......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
66 cases
  • Hall v. United Rentals, Inc., No. 4166.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2006
    ...in a Workers' Compensation decision. Gadson v. Mikasa Corp., 368 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.......
  • Thompson ex rel. Harvey v. Cisson Const., No. 4339.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 1, 2008
    ...substantial evidence standard. Gadson v. Mikasa Corp., 368 S.C. 214, 221, 628 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......
  • Hall v. Desert Aire, Inc., No. 4324.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2007
    ...court's province to reverse findings of the Appellate Panel which are supported by substantial evidence. Frame v. Resort Servs., Inc., 357 S.C. 520, 528, 593 S.E.2d 491, 495 (Ct.App.2004); Broughton v. South of the Border, 336 S.C. 488, 496, 520 S.E.2d 634, 656 S.E.2d 758 637 (Ct.App.1999).......
  • Houston v. Deloach & Deloach, No. 4408.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 10, 2008
    ...substantial evidence standard. Gadson v. Mikasa Corp., 368 S.C. 214, 221, 628 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......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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