Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2010-UP-175 - Galen Polite, Sr. v. Westvaco Corp

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Galen A. Polite, Sr., Claimant, Respondent,

v.

Westvaco Corp., Employer and Westvaco Corp., Self-Insured, Carrier, Appellant.


Appeal From Charleston County
Kenneth G. Goode, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-175
Heard February 9, 2010 – Filed March 1, 2010


REVERSED


Kirsten L. Barr, of Mount Pleasant, for Appellant.

Kevin B. Smith, of Charleston, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  In this workers' compensation case, Westvaco Corp. ("Westvaco") appeals the circuit court's affirmance of the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission's order finding Westvaco liable to Galen Polite's health insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield ("Blue Cross") in the amount of $92,961.39 for previously paid medical treatment.  On appeal, Westvaco argues: (1) Polite's workers' compensation claim for reimbursement should be extinguished by his death; (2) the claim for reimbursement should have been dismissed because substitution of the parties was not sought within a reasonable time following his death; (3) the Commission's conclusion is not supported by substantial evidence in the record; and (4) the Commission does not have jurisdiction over claims for reimbursement made by or on behalf of health insurance companies.  Finding the Commission without the authority to order reimbursement to an insured's private health insurance carrier, we reverse the circuit court's order. 

Counsel for Polite argues there is no need to appoint a personal representative or substitute the estate as the proper party following Polite's death because "[n]o benefits are going to be paid directly to the Respondent or any of his dependents or family members" and there would be no funds for that person to manage.  Via his own admission, counsel admits that he is not representing Polite.  Therefore, we find the real party in interest in this appeal is Blue Cross who, as the claimant's private health insurance carrier, lacks standing in front of the Commission.  Accordingly, we reverse pursuant to Rule 220(b)(2), SCACR, and the following authorities: Blue Cross & Blue Shield v. S.C. Indus. Comm'n, 274 S.C. 204, 206-08, 262 S.E.2d 35, 37 (1980) (finding Blue Cross lacked standing to participate in the workers' compensation proceedings after filing a declaratory judgment action to determine whether it had the right to participate in proceedings where the employee held one of its policies);[1] S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 67-1301 to -1305 (Supp. 2009) (only providing payment for medical treatment, other than to the employee, to a "medical provider" or "medical practitioner"); James v. Anne's Inc., Op. No. 26762 (S.C. Sup. Ct. filed Jan. 25, 2010) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 4 at 17) ("The authority of the Commission is statutorily derived, therefore, the Commission cannot exceed the scope of the legislature's grant of authority."); Futch v. McAllister Towing of Georgetown, Inc., 335 S.C. 598, 613, 518 S.E.2d 591, 598 (1999) (stating an appellate court need not discuss remaining issues when disposition of a prior issue is dispositive).[2] 

REVERSED.

PIEPER, GEATHERS, JJ., and CURETON, A.J., concur.


[1] See Roper Hosp. v. Clemons, 326 S.C. 534, 538, 484 S.E.2d 598, 600 (Ct. App. 1997) (finding hospital lacked standing to reopen workers' compensation case for payment of claimant's medical bills where the workers' compensation statute does not expressly grant standing to health care providers); Baker Hosp. v. Firemans Fund Ins. Co., 314 S.C. 98, 101, 441 S.E.2d 822, 823 (1994) (finding hospital lacked standing to seek redress before the Commission for unpaid medical bills and that all of the claims arose from common law, not workers' compensation laws).

[2] The issue of a separate action in circuit court for indemnification or other relief is not before us in this appeal.