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Lewis v. L.B. Dynasty, Inc.

Supreme Court of South Carolina

April 19, 2017

LeAndra Lewis, Petitioner,
v.
L.B. Dynasty, Inc., d/b/a Boom Boom Room Studio 54 and S.C. Uninsured Employers' Fund, Defendants, Of Whom S.C. Uninsured Employers' Fund is the Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2015-002397

          Heard December 15, 2016

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

         Appeal From The Workers' Compensation Commission

          Charles B. Burnette, III, of Burnette & Payne, PA, of Rock Hill, and John S. Nichols and Blake A. Hewitt, both of Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, LLC, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

          Lisa C. Glover, of South Carolina Uninsured Employers' Fund, of Columbia, for Respondent.

          HEARN JUSTICE

         In this case we review the decision of the court of appeals affirming the Workers' Compensation Commission's award of benefits to a dancer who was shot while performing at a nightclub. We find the commission's decision to award $75 per week is not supported by substantial evidence and therefore reverse and remand.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner LeAndra Lewis sought workers' compensation benefits for injuries she suffered following a shooting in a night club operated by L.B. Dynasty. In a previous opinion, this Court held Lewis was an employee--not an independent contractor--of L.B. Dynasty, entitling her to workers' compensation benefits. Lewis v. L.B. Dynasty, 411 S.C. 637, 770 S.E.2d 393 (2015). We remanded the matter to the court of appeals to review the commission's order awarding benefits to Lewis. Ultimately, the court of appeals affirmed the commission's award of $75 per week.

         In the order, which first delved into a lengthy analysis of Lewis's status as an independent contractor and precluded her from collecting workers' compensation benefits, the commission found that even if she had established herself as an employee, her compensation rate would be $75.00 per week. Specifically, the commission found, "There is no evidence whatsoever as to the amount of money [Lewis] earned, hours worked, etc. The only evidence is [Lewis's] testimony, which is self-serving. [Lewis] is bound by the wages earned from [L.B. Dynasty] only." The commission then went on to state Lewis was required by Regulation 67-1603(H)[1] to submit a Form 20 to the claims department and her purported employer outlining her wages earned from other employers before any additional wages could be considered.

         On remand, the court of appeals affirmed the commission's award, [2] holding "[Lewis's] average weekly wage was a factual determination supported by the evidence, and the single commissioner made no legal errors in its determination that she failed to meet her burden to prove her wages earned from other employers." Lewis v. L.B. Dynasty, Op. No. 2015-UP-339 (S.C. Ct. App. July 8, 2015). This Court granted Lewis a writ of certiorari to review the award.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         An appellate court may reverse or modify a decision by the Workers' Compensation Commission if the decision is not supported by substantial evidence or is affected by an error of law. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(5) (Supp. 2016); Jones v. Ga.-Pac. Corp., 355 S.C. 413, 416, 586 S.E.2d 111, 113 (2003). 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 ...


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