Heard September 24, 2014
Appeal from The Workers' Compensation Commission. Appellate Case No. 2012-212389.
REVERSED AND REMANDED.
James K. Holmes and David T. Pearlman, both of the Steinberg Law Firm, LLP, of Charleston, and Michael J. Jordan, of The Steinberg Law Firm, LLP, of Goose Creek, for Petitioner.
Natalie B. Fisher, of Fisher Law Firm, LLC, of Mount Pleasant, for Respondents.
[411 S.C. 393] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
This case requires us to clarify the idiopathic exception to workers' compensation. Judy Barnes tripped and fell at work while walking down the hallway to check e-mail for another employee. Although there was no evidence that her fall was precipitated by an internal condition--such as her legs giving out or her fainting--the single commissioner and appellate panel found that her fall was idiopathic and therefore noncompensable. The court of appeals affirmed. We now reverse.
[411 S.C. 394]FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Barnes was employed as an administrative assistant at Charter 1 Realty. On the day of her injury, Barnes was asked to check the e-mail of one of the realtors before noon. Around 11:30 a.m., Barnes left her desk and walked toward the realtor's office. However, she stumbled, fell, and sustained serious injuries: a broken left femur, broken left humerus and a torn rotator cuff.
Barnes subsequently filed a claim for workers' compensation. At the hearing, Barnes testified she was hurrying to the realtor's office to check her e-mail and that caused her to fall. Evidence was also introduced that her husband did not like the shoes she wore, and he had told her she needed to pick up her feet when she walked.
The single commissioner denied her claim, finding there was no explanation for the fall and it was not caused by some hazard at work or a deficiency in the carpet. Based upon these findings, the commissioner concluded Barnes' fall was idiopathic. The commissioner also concluded no competent evidence was presented that her employment contributed to her fall.
The appellate panel affirmed, adopting the order of the single commissioner in its entirety. Barnes appealed and the court of appeals affirmed in a memorandum decision. Barnes v. Charter 1 Realty,
Op. No 2012-UP-02 (S.C. ...