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2009-UP-076 - Ward v. The Pantry

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Joseph Richard Ward, Respondent,

v.

The Pantry and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Appellant.


Appeal From Richland County
 L. Casey Manning, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No.  2009-UP-076
Submitted February 2, 2009 – Filed February 11, 2009


AFFIRMED


Pope D. Johnson, III, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Stephen B. Samuels, of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  The Pantry and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (collectively the Carrier) appeal the circuit court’s affirmance of the Appellate Panel of the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission’s order (Appellate Panel) finding Joseph Ward suffered from a compensable change in condition resulting from a work related injury to his back.  We affirm.[1] 

On appeal, the Carrier contends the single commissioner erred in finding Ward suffered a compensable change in condition resulting from his original work injury.

We agree with Ward that evidence supports the single commissioner's conclusion that he suffered from a compensable change in condition.  The decisions of the Appellate Panel must be affirmed if the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record.  Hill v. Eagle Motor Lines, 373 S.C. 422, 436, 645 S.E.2d 424, 431 (2007).  "Substantial evidence is that evidence which, in considering the record as a whole, would allow reasonable minds to reach the conclusion the Commission reached."  Id.  "A claimant may seek to reopen an award under the Workers' Compensation Act if there has been a change in condition."  Robbins v. Walgreens and Broadspire Serv., Inc., 375 S.C. 259, 265, 652 S.E.2d 90, 93 (Ct. App. 2007).  "A change in condition occurs when the claimant experiences a change in physical condition as a result of her original injury, occurring after the first award."  Id. 

In the case at bar, the single commissioner properly found Ward suffered from a compensable change in condition resulting from his original work injury.  Substantial evidence in the record supports the single commissioner's conclusion.  The Carrier specifically asked Dr. Johnson in his first deposition if he could offer any opinion as to the cause of Ward’s deteriorating back condition, and Johnson stated if the results of the 2005 MRI showed a worsening of the disc problem in L3-4, then it would be a continuation of Ward’s work injury shown in the 2001 MRI.  The results of the 2005 MRI after the first deposition confirmed Ward suffered a worsening of the disc problem in L3-4.  Johnson’s testimony in the first deposition, combined with the results of the 2005 MRI in the record, strongly supports the inference that Ward's worsening back condition was causally connected to his original work injury.  Accordingly, the single commissioner correctly concluded Ward suffered from a compensable change in condition, and the Appellate Panel and circuit court correctly affirmed the single commissioner’s order.

AFFIRMED.

SHORT, THOMAS, and GEATHERS, JJ., concur. 


[1]  We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.