Hiers v. Brunson Const. Co., No. 16606

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTAYLOR; BAKER
Citation221 S.C. 212,70 S.E.2d 211
PartiesHIERS v. BRUNSON CONST. CO. et al.
Decision Date26 March 1952
Docket NumberNo. 16606

Page 211

70 S.E.2d 211
221 S.C. 212
HIERS

v.
BRUNSON CONST. CO. et al.
No. 16606.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
March 26, 1952.

Page 212

[221 S.C. 214] Wise, Whaley & McCutchen, Columbia, for appellants.

[221 S.C. 215] Blatt & Fales, Barnwell, for respondent.

TAYLOR, Justice.

[221 S.C. 216] This is a workmen's compensation case. Mrs. Olive Hiers, the respondent herein, is the dependent widow of Hubert J. Hiers, who, it is contended, died March 8, 1950, as a result of an accident which arose out of and in the course of his employment with the Brunson Construction Company, who together with its insurance carrier, Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Company, are appellants.

Application was duly made to the South Carolina Industrial Commission for death benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Law, Code 1942, § 7035-1 et seq. Appellants entered an appearance and denied liability on the grounds that death did not result from an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment within the contemplation of the Workmen's Compensation Law. After several hearings, the Hearing Commissioner issued his opinion and award in favor of respondent for benefits in the amount of $6,000 and medical benefits. Application was made to the whole commission for a review who, by its opinion dated April 25, 1951, affirmed

Page 213

the findings and award of the Hearing Commissioner. Appeal was duly taken to the Court of Common Pleas for Saluda County upon the same grounds as listed in the application for review. The Honorable T. B. Greneker heard the matter on appeal and filed his order, dated July 7, 1951, overruling all exceptions and affirming the award of the Industrial Commission.

Appellants now come to this Court contending that there was no evidence of probative value upon which the Industrial Commission could conclude that death was the result of an injury by accident which arose out of and in the course of the employment.

To determine this question it becomes necessary for this Court to review the evidence, but it is well established that the Industrial Commission is the fact-finding body and this Court and the Circuit Court both being appellate courts in workmen's compensation matters can only review the facts to determine whether or not there is [221 S.C. 217] any competent evidence to support the findings of the fact-finding body. If there is, the Courts are without power to pass upon the force and effect of such evidence. An award may of course be reversed if there is an absence of any competent evidence to support it, but in workmen's compensation cases the Courts are not the triers of facts. If the facts proved are capable, as a matter of law, of sustaining the inference of fact drawn from them by the Industrial Commission, its findings are conclusive in the absence of fraud and neither this Court nor the Court of Common Pleas is at liberty to interfere with them. Anderson v. Campbell Tile Co., 202 S.C. 54, 24 S.E.2d 104; Crawford v. Town of Winnsboro, 205 S.C. 72, 30 S.E.2d 841; Lanford v. Clinton Cotton Mills, 204 S.C. 423, 30 S.E.2d 36; Strawhorn v. J. A. Chapman Const. Co., 202 S.C. 43, 24 S.E.2d 116; Cokeley v. Robert Lee, Inc., 197 S.C. 157, 14 S.E.2d 889; Shehane v. Springs Cotton Mills, 206 S.C. 334, 34 S.E.2d 180; Green v. Grinnell Co., 213 S.C. 116, 48 S.E.2d 644; White v. Carolina Light & Power Co., 215 S.C. 25, 53 S.E.2d 872; Buff v. Columbia Baking Co., 215 S.C. 41, 53 S.E.2d 879; Schrader v. Monarch Mills, 215 S.C. 357, 55 S.E.2d 285; Teigue v. Appleton Company, S.C., 68 S.E.2d 878.

Mrs. Hiers, the respondent herein, testified that the deceased was working as a carpenter for the Brunson Construction Company at the time he became ill, that he worked from job to job as the Superintendent for the Brunson Construction Company as directed, that on February 19, 1950, he visited the doctor because he had a cold and suffered from nervousness. On the following day, February 20th, he was taken to the hospital and remained therein from that time, which was Monday, until the following Saturday when he was discharged from the hospital and returned home but remained in bed. He did not improve, however, and returned to the hospital where he developed pneumonia and died March 8, 1950.

[221 S.C. 218] Mr. I. S. Garris testified that he boarded with Mr. Hiers while living at Smoak, South Carolina, and that Mr. Hiers worked wherever he was sent by Mr. Brunson of the Brunson Construction Company, that on February 20th, a cold, raw, rainy day he went with Mr. Hiers to Ridge Spring, South Carolina, where they were constructing a health center, that a leak had developed in the roof which was damaging the plaster, that he and Mr. Hiers repaired the roof in order to stop the leak, the time required to complete the operation being approximately 45 minutes. During that afternoon Mr. Hiers suffered what was in his opinion a chill, whereupon he carried him to Walterboro, South Carolina, where he was admitted to the hospital by a doctor there. The death certificate which was part of the record stated that the deceased employee died on March 9, 1950, that his usual occupation was contractor (Superintendent of Brunson Construction Company) and that the cause of his death was 'a typical pneumonia-pleurisy', and that the interval between onset and death was ten days.

Dr. H. A. Gross testified that he had been a general practitioner for twenty-one years and during that time had on numerous occasions had experience with the cause and treatment of pneumonia. Dr. Gross stated

Page 214

in his opinion, that if a man had a cold, got wet and physically exerted himself it would substantially contribute and cause the influenza, double pneumonia and pleurisy. He stated that it was his opinion, that the conditions to which the deceased employee was subjected caused the pneumonia which the death certificate said he had; that, because this man had a cold and fever he died from going to work. That he was basing his opinion on the facts that the deceased had a cold, was subjected to cold weather, wet weather, over-exertion, which are predisposing causes of pneumonia.

Dr. L. A. Hartzog testified that he had been engaged in the practice of medicine for forty-one years; that he had during those forty odd years had occasions to come in contact with the cause and treatment of pneumonia. In his opinion, [221 S.C. 219] Dr. Hartzog stated, if a person had a head cold and worked in the rain, getting wet and exerting himself physically, then started having chills and high fever, these things would substantially contribute to and cause the influenza, pneumonia and pleurisy which would cause death, and most probably in this case did. That if the deceased had not gotten wet and chilled and exerted himself, and had stayed at home by a fire or in bed he would not have had pneumonia and would probably be living.

Dr. Bruce Edgerton testified that he practiced medicine in Blackville, South Carolina, and had been doing so for seven years, during which time he had had various experiences of the cause and treatment of pneumonia. Dr. Edgerton stated that if a person who had a head cold worked on the roof of a building in the rain, got wet and during the early afternoon of the same day performed exerting physical work, then began having chills and high fever and was taken from his job to a hospital one hundred miles away with a virus infection and a bad case of influenza, stayed there five days, being at home for three days thereafter, and returned again to the hospital and died eight days later with double pneumonia and pleurisy, that in his opinion, the fact of having a cold, getting wet and physically exerting himself, substantially contributed to and caused the pneumonia and pleurisy which resulted in death. That it was his opinion, that the deceased probably would not have contracted pneumonia if he had stayed in bed. That if he had not gotten wet and had not exerted himself he would not have had the pneumonia.

John Langley testified that he lived in Allendale, South Carolina, and was a painter. That he worked for Brunson Construction Company and was working at Ridge Spring on Monday, February 20, 1950. That Mr. Hiers picked him up on the truck in Allendale that morning about 8:00 and they reached Ridge Spring about 9:30 o'clock. That they unloaded the truck first thing containing doors, windows, etc. Langley stated that it was a cold day and began raining [221 S.C. 220] during the morning, and that he had put the ladder up for Mr. Hiers to go on top of the roof. The witness further testified that Mr. Hiers told him later on in the afternoon, about four-thirty or five o'clock, that he had turned the work over to another man because he was sick and had to go to the hospital. The testimony of Langley further reveals that the deceased-employee had helped hang doors during the day.

Miles Taylor testified that he was a painter and worked for Brunson Company. That on February 20, 1950, he was working at Ridge Spring. That the truck had picked him up that morning and Mr. Hiers was on this truck in the cab with Mr. Garris. The witness stated that he worked on the inside of the building and that Mr. Hiers worked on the roof during the day trying to stop a leak, and that he had seen John Langley put the ladder up for him. Taylor stated that he did not see Mr. Hiers any more that day until about five o'clock when they were getting in the truck, at which time Mr. Hiers stated that he was going to the hospital because he was sick.

G. W. Smith testified that he was a paint contractor and on Monday, February 20, 1950, he worked at Ridge Spring. That Mr. Hiers picked him up at Hampton in the truck, and that it being such a very cold morning he had put blankets on top of himself to keep his feet and hands warm while traveling to work. That when they

Page 215

reached Ridge Spring they unloaded the truck and that he began painting the...

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27 practice notes
  • Sharpe v. Case Produce Co., No. 2775
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 2, 1997
    ...(exacerbation of pre-existing disease or injury arising out of or in course of employment is compensable); Hiers v. Brunson Constr. Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211 (1952) (if there is subsisting condition of illness or incapacity or physical disability which is caused, increased, or accele......
  • Page v. Green, No. 13615
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • January 31, 1985
    ...benefit to employer); Green v. DeFuria, 19 N.J. 290, 116 A.2d 19 (1955) (slight, if any benefit to employer); Hiers v. Brunson Const. Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211 (1952) (employee went beyond normal duties in repairing roof to protect It was unquestioned, and respondent's witnesses so s......
  • Bowen v. Chiquola Mfg. Co., No. 17785
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 16, 1961
    ...Mills, 205 S.C. 247, 31 S.E.2d 447; Radcliffe v. Southern Aviation School, 209 S.C. 411, 40 S.E.2d 626; Hiers v. Brunson Construction Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211; Mason v. Woodside Mills, 225 S.C. 15, 80 S.E.2d 334; Whitfield v. Daniel Construction Co., 226 S.C. 37, 83 S.E.2d 460; Wils......
  • Price v. B. F. Shaw Co., No. 16775
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • August 20, 1953
    ...and unexpected result which Page 497 makes an accident in the contemplation of the compensation law. Hiers v. Brunson Const. Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211, and authorities there The view which I advocate appears to be that of the majority of the courts. The following is quoted from 58 Am......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Sharpe v. Case Produce Co., No. 2775
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 2, 1997
    ...(exacerbation of pre-existing disease or injury arising out of or in course of employment is compensable); Hiers v. Brunson Constr. Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211 (1952) (if there is subsisting condition of illness or incapacity or physical disability which is caused, increased, or accele......
  • Page v. Green, No. 13615
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • January 31, 1985
    ...benefit to employer); Green v. DeFuria, 19 N.J. 290, 116 A.2d 19 (1955) (slight, if any benefit to employer); Hiers v. Brunson Const. Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211 (1952) (employee went beyond normal duties in repairing roof to protect It was unquestioned, and respondent's witnesses so s......
  • Bowen v. Chiquola Mfg. Co., No. 17785
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 16, 1961
    ...Mills, 205 S.C. 247, 31 S.E.2d 447; Radcliffe v. Southern Aviation School, 209 S.C. 411, 40 S.E.2d 626; Hiers v. Brunson Construction Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211; Mason v. Woodside Mills, 225 S.C. 15, 80 S.E.2d 334; Whitfield v. Daniel Construction Co., 226 S.C. 37, 83 S.E.2d 460; Wils......
  • Price v. B. F. Shaw Co., No. 16775
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • August 20, 1953
    ...and unexpected result which Page 497 makes an accident in the contemplation of the compensation law. Hiers v. Brunson Const. Co., 221 S.C. 212, 70 S.E.2d 211, and authorities there The view which I advocate appears to be that of the majority of the courts. The following is quoted from 58 Am......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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