Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., BI-L

Decision Date12 March 1981
Docket NumberBI-L,No. 21410,INC,21410
Citation276 S.E.2d 304,276 S.C. 130
PartiesJarelle J. LARK, Respondent, v.and American Mutual Liability Insurance Company, Appellants.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Ernest J. Nauful, Jr., of Nauful & Lacy, Columbia, for appellants.

C. LaVaun Fox, Aiken, for respondent.

LEWIS, Chief Justice:

This Workmen's Compensation case raises two questions for consideration: (1) whether or not the Administrative Procedures Act (Section 1-23-310 et seq., South Carolina Code of Laws, 1976) requires a change in the scope of judicial review of factual determinations by the Industrial Commission; and (2) the sufficiency of the evidence in this case to support the Commission's award in favor of the respondent-claimant. The appeal is from an order of the lower court affirming the award of the Commission. We affirm.

Initially, appellant argues that the adoption of the Administrative Procedures Act modified the previous judicial scope of review for hearings involving Workmen's Compensation because "agency" as defined by Code Section 1-23-310 includes the Industrial Commission. It concludes that the lower court erred by failing to apply this new standard, which, it argues, would have required reversal of the Commission.

We think it proper, at the outset, to have in mind the two standards for judicial review, with which we are here dealing.

Our current Workmen's Compensation statute and its corresponding provision as to judicial review had its genesis in 1936.

Section 42-17-60, South Carolina Code of Laws, 1976, currently codifies the originally enacted provision concerning appeals to the judiciary in Workmen's Compensation cases. This section was originally applied in Murdaugh v. Robert Lee Construction Co., 185 S.C. 497, 194 S.E. 447, as rendering an award of the Industrial Commission conclusive and binding on judicial review as to all questions of fact, if such factual findings are supported by any competent evidence. This court has consistently been governed, in its review of Workmen's Compensation cases, by the principle that an award of the Commission must be affirmed if there is any evidence to support it.

Appellant contends, however, that the previous statutory provisions relating to the scope of review in Workmen's Compensation cases have been, in effect, repealed and superseded by the Administrative Procedures Act.

The Administrative Procedures Act, relied upon by appellant, was originally enacted in 1977. It purports to provide uniform procedures before State Boards and Commissions and for judicial review after the exhaustion of administrative remedies. Section 1-23-380(g) concerns the scope of judicial review and provides:

(g) The court shall not substitute its judgment for that of the agency as to the weight of the evidence on the questions of fact. The court may affirm the decision of the agency or remand the case for further proceedings. The court may reverse or modify the decision if substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the administrative findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions are:

(1) In violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;

(2) In excess of the statutory authority of the agency;

(3) Made upon unlawful procedure;

(4) Affected by other error of law;

(5) Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record; or

(6) Arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.

The Administrative Procedures Act, therefore, establishes the "substantial evidence" rule as the standard for judicial review of decisions of the Boards and Commissions coming within its terms; while the previous standard for review of awards of the Industrial Commission is that of "any evidence." Upon review of the two standards for judicial review, it is apparent that the newly enacted section in the Administrative Procedures Act is a grant of greater appellate authority to the courts, and that the two are to a great degree inconsistent.

We must, therefore, determine whether the scope of judicial review as set forth in the Administrative Procedures Act is applicable to review of awards of the Industrial Commission.

Section 1-23-310(1) of the Administrative Procedures Act defined the term "agency" as used therein and it thereby prescribes the extent of the Act's application. This section defines "agency" as follows:

(1) 'Agency' means each State board, commission, department or officer, other than the legislature or the courts, authorized by law to make rules or to determine contested cases.

We think the South Carolina Industrial Commission is clearly an "agency" within the meaning of the foregoing section, since it has rule making authority (Code Section 42-3-30), and hears and decides contested matters (Sections 42-3-180 and 42-17-40). In addition, the comments of the Commissioners who proposed the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act indicate that it was the intent of the drafters that the term "agency" in the model act be all inclusive. 14 ULA Model State Administrative Procedures Act, p. 372.

Since the South Carolina Industrial Commission clearly comes within the terms of the Administrative Procedures Act, we must determine whether the provisions repeal the scope of review in Workmen's Compensation cases as set forth in Section 42-17-60, supra. There has been no express repeal of Section 42-17-60 and, if it has been repealed, it must be by implication.

While we recognize the principle that repeal of a statute by implication is not favored, Craig v. Bell, 211 S.C. 473, 46 S.E.2d 52, we think the legislative intent to repeal the scope of review provisions of Section 42-17-60 is explicitly implied from the provisions of the later general Administrative Procedures Act and that Act's legislative history. It contains a provision relating to rules of evidence at administrative hearings. As originally formulated in 1977, it provided that the rules of evidence as applied in civil cases in the court of common pleas shall be followed. Two years later, the General Assembly amended the evidentiary section to grant an exemption to the Industrial Commission concerning the rules of evidence. The preamble to that legislation provided that the purpose of the amendment was to "exempt the Industrial Commission from the requirement that rules of evidence in the circuit court be followed in contested cases before regulatory agencies." We think this history and the amendment to the Act is an explicit legislative recognition that the Administrative Procedures Act applied to Workmen's Compensation cases; otherwise, the Legislature would not have felt compelled to provide an exemption relative to the rules of evidence for the Industrial Commission.

We have previously noted that the two standards for judicial review are inconsistent and cannot apply without conflict.

Therefore, Section 1-23-380(g), quoted above, governs the standard of judicial review of awards of...

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