Gibson v. SPARANBURG SCH. DIST.# 3, No. 3102.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtANDERSON.
Citation526 S.E.2d 725,338 S.C. 510
Docket NumberNo. 3102.
Decision Date17 January 2000
PartiesKathy GIBSON, Respondent, v. SPARTANBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT # 3, Employer, and S.C. School Board Self Insured Trust Fund, Insurer, Appellants.

338 S.C. 510
526 S.E.2d 725

Kathy GIBSON, Respondent,
v.
SPARTANBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT # 3, Employer, and S.C. School Board Self Insured Trust Fund, Insurer, Appellants

No. 3102.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard December 7, 1999.

Decided January 17, 2000.

Rehearing Denied March 25, 2000.


338 S.C. 514
Michael A. Farry and David A. Wilson, both of Horton, Drawdy, Ward & Black, of Greenville, for appellants

Richard W. Vieth, of Henderson, Brandt & Vieth, of Spartanburg, for respondent.

ANDERSON, Judge:

Kathy Gibson filed a Workers' Compensation claim for injuries she sustained while purchasing school supplies at Wal-Mart for her employer, Spartanburg School District # 3 (the School District). Gibson was reaching for a lunch box to purchase for her own child when a box cutter fell off the shelf, severely cutting her right eye. The Single Commissioner and the Appellate Panel of the Workers' Compensation Commission found Gibson's injury was not compensable because the purchase of school supplies for her own child did not arise out

338 S.C. 515
of and in the course of her employment. The Circuit Court reversed, ruling the injury was compensable and constituted only a slight deviation from her assigned task. We affirm

FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Kathy Gibson began working for the School District in June of 1995 as coordinator of a summer program for three- to five-year-old children. As one of her duties, Gibson was required to purchase school supplies for the children. The purchases were paid for by the School District, which maintained an account for supplies at the local Wal-Mart. Gibson traveled without supervision to the store. There is no evidence any restrictions were placed on her activities when she completed these errands.

On August 1, 1995, Gibson traveled from the site of her employment to Wal-Mart with a purchase order issued by the School District to purchase supplies for the children in the program. While selecting items listed on the purchase order, Gibson saw a lunch box in the aisle containing school supplies that she thought would be "ideal" for her son, who was starting first grade later that month.

Because the School District maintained an account with the store, the purchases were handled at the customer service desk, where they were charged to the account, instead of a regular check-out lane. In order to avoid commingling the purchases, Gibson gathered all of the School District's items, had them totaled and bagged at the customer service desk, and received a receipt. She then asked the customer service clerk if she could return to the school supplies aisle to pick up the lunch box she intended to pay for separately. Gibson returned to the school supplies area. When she reached above her head to retrieve the lunch box, an open box cutter fell from the shelf, severely cutting her right eye. At the time of the accident, Gibson was still in possession of the School District's supplies and would have returned to work but for her accident.

Gibson underwent medical treatment for her injuries. At the time of the hearing before the Single Commissioner, the parties stipulated she had not reached maximum medical improvement. The Single Commissioner denied compensation,

338 S.C. 516
finding the injury to Gibson's eye did not arise out of or in the course of her employment with the School District because Gibson was on a "personal mission" at the time she was injured. The Commissioner determined Gibson's "deviation from her business trip was clearly identifiable and not insubstantial." In the hearing before the Single Commissioner, no testimony was taken. The Commissioner relied upon the administrative submissions, the stipulation of facts, and his personal visit to the accident site. The Commissioner noted Gibson "would have had to turn 180 [degrees]" and walk "some 200 feet from the customer service area" to return to the school supplies aisle to retrieve the lunch box for her own child

In a two to one decision, the Appellate Panel upheld those findings. On appeal, the Circuit Court, relying on the personal comfort doctrine and the dual purpose rule, concluded the injury was compensable. The court found Gibson's return to the aisle containing school supplies was only a slight deviation from her assigned task, and that she still had possession of the School District's purchase and would have returned to the school with the supplies had she not been injured. Finally, the court ruled there was no indication Gibson intended to abandon her employer's errand, nor was there any conduct on her part that was unusual or unreasonable. The School District appeals.

ISSUE

Is Gibson's eye injury a compensable claim under the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The South Carolina Administrative Procedures Act (APA) establishes the standard for judicial review of decisions of the Workers' Compensation Commission. Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 276 S.E.2d 304 (1981); 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. S.C.Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A)(6) (Supp.1998); Stephen v. Avins Constr. Co., 324

338 S.C. 517
S.C. 334, 478 S.E.2d 74 (Ct.App.1996). See also Smith v. Union Bleachery/Cone Mills, 276 S.C. 454, 456, 280 S.E.2d 52, 53 (1981) (court may reverse or modify agency's decision "`if substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the administrative findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions are ... affected by other error of law'"); Lyles v. Quantum Chem. Co. (Emery), 315 S.C. 440, 434 S.E.2d 292 (Ct.App.1993) (in reviewing decision of Workers' Compensation Commission, Court of Appeals will not set aside its findings unless they are not supported by substantial evidence or are controlled by error of law). This 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. Hamilton, supra.

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. Broughton v. South of the Border, 336 S.C. 488, 520 S.E.2d 634 (Ct.App.1999). The Appellate Panel is the ultimate fact finder in Workers' Compensation cases and is not bound by the Single Commissioner's findings of fact. Muir v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 336 S.C. 266, 519 S.E.2d 583 (Ct.App.1999). The final determination of witness credibility and the weight to be accorded evidence is reserved to the Appellate Panel. Parsons v. Georgetown Steel, 318 S.C. 63, 456 S.E.2d 366 (1995).

The question of whether an accident arises out of and is in the course and scope of employment is largely a question of fact for the Appellate Panel. Grice v. National Cash Register Co., 250 S.C. 1, 156 S.E.2d 321 (1967); Broughton, supra. However, where, as here, the facts are undisputed, the question of whether an accident is compensable is a question of law. Jordan v. Dixie Chevrolet, Inc., 218 S.C. 73, 61 S.E.2d 654 (1950); Broughton, supra.

LAW/ANALYSIS

I. INJURY BY ACCIDENT ARISING OUT OF...

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29 practice notes
  • Hall v. United Rentals, Inc., No. 4166.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2006
    ...or is controlled by some error of law. Rodriguez v. Romero, 363 S.C. 80, 610 S.E.2d 488 (2005); Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. # 3, 338 S.C. 510, 526 S.E.2d 725 (Ct.App.2000); see Grant v. Grant Textiles, 361 S.C. 188, 191, 603 S.E.2d 858, 859 (Ct.App.2004) ("A reviewing court will not ov......
  • Thompson ex rel. Harvey v. Cisson Const., No. 4339.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 1, 2008
    ...if the evidence is undisputed or gives rise to only one inference, we may rule as a matter of law. Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. No. 3, 338 S.C. 510, 518, 526 S.E.2d 725, 729 I. Section 42-9-60 of the South Carolina Code of Laws The Workers' Compensation Act provides that "[n]o compensat......
  • Hall v. Desert Aire, Inc., No. 4324.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2007
    ...denied); Hargrove v. Titan Textile Co., 360 S.C. 276, 288, 599 S.E.2d 604, 610 (Ct.App.2004); Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. No. 3, 338 S.C. 510, 516, 526 S.E.2d 725, 728 (Ct.App.2000). As provided by the APA, a reviewing may not substitute its judgment for the judgment of the agency as t......
  • Houston v. Deloach & Deloach, No. 4408.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 10, 2008
    ...has the burden of proving facts that will bring the injury within the workers' compensation law. Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. No. 3, 338 S.C. 510, 518, 526 S.E.2d 725, 729 (Ct.App.2000); accord Clade v. Champion Laboratories, 330 S.C. 8, 11, 496 S.E.2d 856, 857 (1998); Sola v. Sunny Slo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Hall v. United Rentals, Inc., No. 4166.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2006
    ...or is controlled by some error of law. Rodriguez v. Romero, 363 S.C. 80, 610 S.E.2d 488 (2005); Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. # 3, 338 S.C. 510, 526 S.E.2d 725 (Ct.App.2000); see Grant v. Grant Textiles, 361 S.C. 188, 191, 603 S.E.2d 858, 859 (Ct.App.2004) ("A reviewing court will not ov......
  • Thompson ex rel. Harvey v. Cisson Const., No. 4339.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 1, 2008
    ...if the evidence is undisputed or gives rise to only one inference, we may rule as a matter of law. Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. No. 3, 338 S.C. 510, 518, 526 S.E.2d 725, 729 I. Section 42-9-60 of the South Carolina Code of Laws The Workers' Compensation Act provides that "[n]o compensat......
  • Hall v. Desert Aire, Inc., No. 4324.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2007
    ...denied); Hargrove v. Titan Textile Co., 360 S.C. 276, 288, 599 S.E.2d 604, 610 (Ct.App.2004); Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. No. 3, 338 S.C. 510, 516, 526 S.E.2d 725, 728 (Ct.App.2000). As provided by the APA, a reviewing may not substitute its judgment for the judgment of the agency as t......
  • Houston v. Deloach & Deloach, No. 4408.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 10, 2008
    ...has the burden of proving facts that will bring the injury within the workers' compensation law. Gibson v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. No. 3, 338 S.C. 510, 518, 526 S.E.2d 725, 729 (Ct.App.2000); accord Clade v. Champion Laboratories, 330 S.C. 8, 11, 496 S.E.2d 856, 857 (1998); Sola v. Sunny Slo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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