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Ashford v. Prysmian Power Cables & Systems, USA

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

June 19, 2019

James A. Ashford, Employee, Claimant, Respondent,
v.
Prysmian Power Cables & Systems, USA, Employer, and Sentry Insurance Company, Carrier, Appellants. Appellate Case No. 2016-002423

          Heard April 17, 2019

          Appeal from the Appellate Panel of the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission

          Nicolas Lee Haigler, of Robinson Gray Stepp & Laffitte, LLC, of Columbia, for Appellants.

          David Newton Truitt, of Truitt Law Firm, LLC, of Columbia, for Respondent.

          LOCKEMY, C.J.

         Prysmian Power Cables & Systems, USA and Sentry Insurance Company (collectively Prysmian) appeal an order issued by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission Appellate Panel declining to address injuries asserted in a Form 50 filed by the claimant, James A. Ashford, because they were not properly before the Appellate Panel. Prysmian argues the findings of the Appellate Panel were in error and violate its due process rights. We dismiss the appeal as interlocutory.

         FACTS

         On October 30, 2013, Ashford sustained an injury to his right wrist when his right hand and wrist were caught and crushed in a machine while working for Prysmian. Ashford's injuries resulted in a crush injury, right dorsal wound, right ulnar styloid fracture, right triangular fibrocartilage complex tear, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

         On February 16, 2015, Ashford filed a Form 50 with the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission (the Commission) alleging injury to his right upper extremity, right lower extremity, right side, and a resultant psychological injury. In addition, Ashford alleged the injury resulted in a permanent disability and mediation is required pursuant to section 67-1802 of the South Carolina Code of Regulations (Supp. 2018).

         In response, Prysmian filed a Form 51 on March 12, 2015 admitting a compensable injury to Ashford's right wrist, but denying injuries to Ashford's right lower extremity, right side and/or psyche. Prysmian asserted mediation was not appropriate in the matter "until there is a finding regarding the compensability of the alleged body parts. If the claim is limited to a single scheduled member, mediation cannot be ordered." Prysmian also alleged

All affirmative and specific defenses (see Reg. 67-603), including but not limited to § 42-15-20, pre-existing disability to allegedly injured members; degree of disability, if any, attributable to this injury [sic] speculative; claimant's problems [sic] personal in nature and not work-related; defendants reserve the right to amend this Answer and plead additional defenses.

         Prysmian filed a Form 21 on April 30, 2015, requesting a hearing to stop compensation. In its Form 21, Prysmian asserted Ashford reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), requested compensation be terminated, and requested a credit for overpayment of temporary compensation.

         On June 23, 2015, the commissioner held a hearing to address Prysmian's Form 21. At the hearing, Prysmian objected to Ashford's submission of the reports and opinions of Todd Hanson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, based on the fact they were untimely and Hanson did not qualify as an expert on the issue of psychological injuries or conditions. The commissioner allowed the admission of the reports and opinions. Furthermore, he stated he would address Hanson's qualifications in his order. The commissioner also indicated he would "leave the record open so that [Prysmian] could depose the doctor."

         The commissioner issued an order on May 4, 2016. In the order, the commissioner determined Ashford was not at MMI for his wrist injury, he was entitled to future medical treatment for his wrist injury by a physician of his choosing, and Prysmian was prohibited from stopping temporary total disability benefits. Concerning the issue of additional injuries to Ashford's psyche, right lower extremity, and right side, and permanent and total disability, the commissioner determined these issues ...


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