Richard A. Hartzell, Employee, Petitioner,
Palmetto Collision, LLC, Employer and South Carolina Worker's Compensation Uninsured Employer's Fund, Respondents
October 8, 2015.
from The Workers' Compensation Commission. Appellate Case
W. Koon, of Charleston, for Petitioner.
Leslie Barr, of Trask & Howell, LLC, of Mount Pleasant,
and Lisa C. Glover, of Columbia, both for Respondents.
JUSTICE TOAL. PLEICONES, C.J., BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN,
WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
Hartzell (Petitioner) appeals the court of appeals'
decision reversing the South Carolina Workers'
Compensation Commission's (the Commission) determination
that he was entitled to medical benefits for a work-related
back injury. See Hartzell v. Palmetto Collision,
L.L.C., 406 S.C. 233, 750 S.E.2d 97 (Ct.App. 2013). We
reverse and remand.
February 2009, Petitioner, who was fifty years old at the
time, worked as an auto body paint technician for Palmetto
Collision, LLC (Employer). According to Petitioner, on or
around February 25, 2009, he injured his back while moving
tires, rims, and heavy frame equipment while cleaning
Employer's shop. Petitioner testified that he began
experiencing lower back pain sometime in the late afternoon
after completing the work, and felt very sore in his lower
back the next day.
testified that the day after the alleged injury, he told
Employer's owner, Mike Stallings, that he was "
pretty sore," and that he " must have hurt
[himself]." According to Petitioner, Stallings suggested
that Petitioner go to the emergency room if he was having
problems. Petitioner did not seek any medical treatment at
that time. Because business was slow, Petitioner ended his
employment with Employer on March 20, 2009. Although
Petitioner testified that he and Stallings discussed his back
injury during the " last couple of weeks" during
which he worked for Employer, he admitted that after ending
his employment with Employer, he never further discussed his
back injury or requested medical treatment from Employer.
filed a workers' compensation claim on May 10, 2010,
alleging a partial permanent injury to his back on
approximately February 25, 2009, while moving an auto frame
machine. Employer denied Petitioner's workers'
compensation claim, alleging, inter alia, that
Petitioner failed to provide notice of his injury as required
by section 42-15-20 of the South Carolina Code. See
S.C. Code Ann. § 42-15-20 (2015).
Andrea Roche (the Single Commissioner) held a hearing on July
12, 2011. At the hearing, Stallings testified that
Petitioner's Form 50 constituted the first notice he
received that Petitioner was alleging a work-related injury.
Stallings stated that he had no recollection of the
conversation after Petitioner's alleged back injury in
which Petitioner claimed that Stallings told him to go to the
emergency room if he had injured his back. Stallings did not
deny that the conversation occurred, only that it did not
" ring a bell." Stallings also stated that
Petitioner never mentioned his back injury after Petitioner
stopped working for Employer.
Single Commissioner issued an order finding that Employer was
subject to the Workers' Compensation Act (the Act) and
that Petitioner sustained an injury by accident to his back
while cleaning Employer's shop. As to the notice issue,
the Single Commissioner found that Petitioner " timely
reported the injury" to Stallings. The Single
Commissioner therefore found that Petitioner was entitled to
" medical, surgical, and other authorized
treatment[,]" and ordered a medical evaluation of
Petitioner to determine: (1) whether he was at maximum
medical improvement (MMI); and (2) ...