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.
Submitted September 1, 2016
From The Workers' Compensation Commission
D. Gallagher, of Speed, Seta, Martin, Trivett and Stubley,
LLC, of Columbia, for Appellants.
Terrance Satterwhite, of Boiling Springs, pro se.
State Transportation (Palmetto) and Cherokee Insurance
Company (Cherokee) appeal the order of the Appellate Panel of
the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission,
arguing the Appellate Panel erred in concluding (1) Palmetto
was only entitled to nine weeks of credit for overpayment of
temporary total disability (TTD), (2) Terrance Satterwhite
had not reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), and (3)
Satterwhite was entitled to additional MRIs and an
independent medical evaluation. We reverse and remand.
find the Appellate Panel's finding Satterwhite had not
reached MMI is unsupported by the substantial evidence in the
record when the only medical opinion indicated Satterwhite
attained MMI. See Frame v. Resort Servs. Inc., 357
S.C. 520, 527, 593 S.E.2d 491, 494 (Ct. App. 2004) (stating
the substantial evidence rule governs the standard of review
in a workers' compensation decision). The lack of a
second medical opinion or Satterwhite's continued
complaints of pain does not render Dr. Phillip J. Hodge's
conclusion that Satterwhite had reached MMI invalid; Dr.
Hodge treated Satterwhite, performed his surgery, monitored
the progress of his work conditioning, and considered the
results of his functional capacity evaluation, which
indicated he could "work in a heavy demand
category." See Hall v. United Rentals, Inc.,
371 S.C. 69, 89, 636 S.E.2d 876, 887 (Ct. App. 2006)
("MMI is a term used to indicate that a person has
reached such a plateau that, in the physician's opinion,
no further medical care or treatment will lessen the period
of impairment."); Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C.
130, 135, 276 S.E.2d 304, 306 (1981) ("'Substantial
evidence' is not a mere scintilla of evidence nor the
evidence viewed blindly from one side of the case, but is
evidence which, considering the record as a whole, would
allow reasonable minds to reach the conclusion that the
administrative agency reached or must have reached in order
to justify its action."). We remand for a determination
of permanent partial disability. See Curiel v. Envtl.
Mgmt. Servs. (MS), 376 S.C. 23, 29, 655 S.E.2d 482, 485
(2007) ([P]ost-MMI benefits may then be awarded either as a
permanent total or partial disability, or as a percentage of
impairment to a scheduled member.").
find the Appellate Panel erred in awarding a credit for
overpayment of TTD as of July 17, 2013, when the evidence
indicates Satterwhite reached MMI on January 28, 2013.
See Curiel, 376 S.C. at 29, 655 S.E.2d at 485
("Essentially, workers' compensation benefits accrue
along a time continuum: temporary total disability benefits
are available from the date of injury through the date of
[MMI]; post-MMI benefits may then be awarded either as a
permanent total or partial disability, or as a percentage of
impairment to a scheduled member."); S.C. Code Ann.
§ 42-9-210 (2015) ("Any payments made by an
employer to an injured employee during the period of his
disability . . ., which by the terms of this title were not
due and payable when made may, subject to the approval of the
[Appellate Panel], be deducted from the amount to be paid as
compensation . . . ."); Hendricks v. Pickens
Cty., 335 S.C. 405, 414, 517 S.E.2d 698, 703 (Ct. App.
1999) ("Once the [Appellate Panel] affirmed that [the
employee] had reached MMI, it was then appropriate to
terminate TTD benefits in favor of either permanent partial
or permanent total disability benefits, if warranted by
substantial evidence in the record."). We therefore
reverse the Appellate Panel's award of a credit for
overpayment of TTD from only July 17, 2013, and order a
credit of overpayment from January 28, 2013.
find the Appellate Panel erred in ordering an independent
medical evaluation and additional MRIs when the record
contains no evidence additional treatment would tend to
lessen the period of disability. Dr. Hodge specifically
indicated Satterwhite had reached MMI and opined he would
"not need future medical care related to his . . . work
related injury or illness based on a reasonable degree of
medical certainty." See S.C. Code Ann. §
42-15-60(A) (2015) ("The employer shall provide medical,
surgical, hospital, and other treatment . . . for an
additional time as in the judgment of the [Appellate Panel]
will tend to lessen the period of disability as evidenced
by expert medical evidence stated to a reasonable degree of
medical certainty." (emphasis added));
Hall, 371 S.C. at 82, 636 S.E.2d at 883 ("The
medical benefits provision of the Workers' Compensation
Act allows the Appellate Panel to award medical benefits
beyond ten weeks from the date of injury only where it
determines such medical treatment would tend to lessen the
period of disability."); Dodge v. Bruccoli, Clark,
Layman, Inc., 334 S.C. 574, 583-84, 514 S.E.2d 593, 598
(Ct. App. 1999) (noting the testimony by the claimant and
the physicians that the claimant needed permanent
treatment to function but remanding to the Appellate Panel
for a determination of whether additional payments tended to
lessen his period of disability); Dykes v. Daniel Constr.
Co., 262 S.C. 98, 109-10, 202 S.E.2d 646, 652 (1974)
(finding further medical treatment would "tend to lessen
the period of disability" when the doctor testified the
claimant's eye condition required permanent care of an
ophthalmologist and "continued use of medication to
relieve pain and pressure in the eye"); Adkins v.
Ga.-Pac. Corp., 350 S.C. 34, 37-38, 564 S.E.2d 339,
340-41 (Ct. App. 2002) (finding evidence supported the
Appellate Panel's finding future medical treatment would
tend to lessen the period of disability when the treating
physician testified the claimant's "condition would
not be disabling in the future if the [resulting] infections
were controlled by medication").
LOCKEMY, C.J., and KONDUROS and ...