Davis Adv. Sh. No. 6
THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
Harold P. Baggott, Petitioner,
Southern Music, Inc.,
and The Travelers
Insurance Company, Respondents.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF
Appeal From Orangeburg County
Charles W. Whetstone, Jr., Judge
Opinion No. 24759
Heard December 2, 1997 - Filed February 9, 1998
- John C. Land, III, and J. Calhoun Land, IV, of
- Land, Parker & Reaves, of Manning, and F. Hall
- Yarborough, of Yarborough, Hutto & Jackson, of
- Orangeburg, for petitioner.
- Harry B. Gregory, Jr., and Johnny W. Baxley, III,
- of Rogers, Townsend, & Thomas, P.C., of Columbia,
- for respondents.
BURNETT, A.J.: In this workers' compensation case, the single
commissioner awarded Petitioner Harold P. Baggott (claimant) benefits; the
full Workers' Compensation Commission reversed in a two to one decision.
The circuit court reversed the full commission, reinstating claimant's
BAGGOTT v. SOUTHERN MUSIC
benefits. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding there was substantial
evidence to support the decision of the full commission denying claimant
benefits. Baggott v. Southern Music, Inc., et al., Op. No. 96-UP-312 (S.C.
Ct. App. filed September 23, 1996). We reverse.
Southern Music, Inc. (SMI), is a business which, in part, leases coin
operated game machines. SMI also leases Tiny's Tub, a pool hall and bar,
to John Rudder. SMI owns the game machines and pool tables in Tiny's
Claimant is the manager of SMI. His typical hours are from 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m., although he remains on call to service machines.
While at SMI on a Friday, claimant received a message late in the
afternoon from Rudder; Rudder requested quarters and repair of a jukebox.
Responding to the request, claimant went to Tiny's Tub between 6:00 and
6:30 p.m., delivered the quarters, and repaired the jukebox and a pool
table. When he completed his work, he began to play a game of pool with
a friend and to drink a beer.
According to claimant, Kenny McDowell, claimant's fellow employee,
entered the bar, angrily cursing at claimant about a work-related matter.
McDowell stated to claimant, "you almost got my son killed. You turned
on the alarm."1 Claimant testified McDowell "came at him." Although
claimant attempted to defend himself with a pool cue, McDowell assaulted
claimant. Claimant suffered a broken hip.
McDowell testified he went to Tiny's Tub to tell claimant the security
alarm was off. He told claimant his son was almost shot because the
alarm had been engaged. McDowell admitted he was "rather upset."
McDowell testified claimant told him not to speak to him disrespectfully;
McDowell thought claimant was going to hit him with the pool cue so he
knocked it out of his hands. McDowell testified the men hit each other.
He believed claimant was the aggressor.
1Claimant had told McDowell he would leave the SMI security alarm
off, but, instead, claimant had mistakenly turned it on. When McDowell
and his son entered SMI, the silent alarm notified the sheriffs department.
A deputy sheriff responded, entered SMI, and pulled a gun on McDowell's
BAGGOTT v. SOUTHERN MUSIC
Rudder testified claimant had come to Tiny's Tub, given him the
requested quarters, and began to repair the malfunctioning machine.
McDowell entered the bar, "yelling almost hysterically at [claimant] for
something." Rudder described McDowell's assault on claimant and stated
McDowell was the aggressor. Rudder hysically removed McDowell from
A patron who witnessed the altercation testified claimant was playing
a game of pool when McDowell entered Tiny's Tub. McDowell screamed
claimant had almost gotten his son shot and advanced toward claimant,
stating he "ought to whip [claimant's] ___." Claimant attempted to defend
himself with a pool cue. McDowell threw claimant into the air. The
patron testified McDowell was the aggressor.
An insurance adjustor spoke with claimant while he was in the
hospital. The adjustor testified claimant did not inform her he had gone to
Tiny's Tub to either deliver coins or to repair a machine.
The full commission determined 1) claimant's injury was sustained
after his work duties had ended and 2) even if he did sustain a
compensable injury, he was barred from compensation because alcohol was
a contributing factor in the accident. The circuit court concluded the
dispute between McDowell and claimant was related to the business of
SMI and, therefore, claimant's injury did arise out of and in the course of
his employment. It further concluded there was no evidence alcohol
contributed to claimant's injury. The Court of Appeals held the circuit
court improperly substituted its view of the evidence for that of the full
- I. Did the Court of Appeals err by concluding the decision of the full
- commission was supported by substantial evidence?
- II. Was intoxication the proximate cause of claimant's injury?
A decision of the Workers' Compensation Com-mission will not be
overturned by a reviewing court unless it is clearly unsupported by
substantial evidence in the record. Howell v. Pacific Columbia Mills, 291
S.C. 469, 354 S.E.2d 384 (1986). Substantial evidence is evidence which,
considering the record as a whole, would allow reasonable minds to reach
BAGGOTT v. SOUTHERN MUSIC
the conclusion that the administrative agency reached to justify its action.
Lark v. Bi-Lo Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 276 S.E.2d 304 (1981). The general
policy is to construe the Workers' Compensation Act in favor of coverage
rather than exclusion. Fox v. Newberry County Memorial Hospital, 316
S.C. 537, 451 S.E.2d 28 (Ct. App. 1994), citing Davis v. South Carolina.
Dept. of Corrections, 289 S.C. 123, 345 S.E.2d 245 (1986).
To be compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act, an injury
by accident must both "arise out of" and "in the course of" employment.
S.C. Code Ann. § 42-1-160 (Supp. 1996). "Arising out of" refers to the
origin of the cause of the accident; "in the course of" refers to the time,
place, and circumstances under which the accident occurred. Owings v.
Anderson County Sheriff's Dept., 315 S.C. 297, 433 S.E.2d 869 (1993);
Eargle v. S.C. Electric & Gas Co., 205 S.C. 423, 32 S.E.2d 240 (1944). An
injury occurs in the course of employment "when it occurs within the
period of employment at a place where the employee reasonably may be in
the performance of his duties and while fulfilling those duties or engaged
in something incidental thereto." Beam v. State Workmen's Compensation
Fund, 261 S.C. 327, 331, 200 S.E.2d 83, 85 (1973). "[T]he two [terms] are
so entwined that they are usually considered together in the reported
cases; and a discussion of one of them involves the other." Eargle v. S.C.
Electric & Gas Co., 205 S.C. at 429, S.E.2d at 242.
It cannot be disputed claimant's injury "arose out of" his employment
with SMI. The assault was the result of McDowell's anger toward
claimant in failing to disengage the security alarm at SMI. The dispute
had its origin in McDowell's and claimant's employment with SMI. Cf.
Skipper v. Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co., 271 S.C. 152, 246
S.E.2d 94 (1978)(injury to employee assaulted by another employee growing
out of a quarrel about the employer's work arises out of the employment)
with Bridges v. Elite, Inc., 212 S.C. 514, 48 S.E.2d 497 (1948)(dispute
which culminates in an assault arising out of employee's private life is not
compensable); see also Sola v. Sunny Slope Farm, 244 S.C. 6, 10-11, 135
S.E.2d 321, 324 (1964)("[a]n accident arises out of the employment when it
arises because of it as when the employment is a contributing proximate
Claimant's injury also occurred "in the course of" his employment. It
is uncontroverted claimant performed employment-related duties at Tiny's
Tub. Immediately prior to the assault, claimant was not performing work-
related duties. However, when McDowell entered Tiny's Tub and
BAGGOTT v. SOUTHERN MUSIC
confronted claimant about a work-related matter, claimant was compelled
to resume his work duties for SMI. McDowell then assaulted claimant.
Under these circumstances, claimant was injured while in the course of his
employment.2 Eargle v. S.C. Electric & Gas Co., supra (each case must be
decided on its particular facts and circumstances).
The substantial evidence does not support the full commission's
conclusion claimant's injury did not arise out of and in the course of
employment. Instead, viewing the record as a whole, reasonable minds
would conclude claimant's injury did arise out of and in the scope of his
employment with SMI.
As noted above, the full commission also denied claimant benefits
because his "alcohol consumption was a contributing factor in the accident
and resulting injuries." Although we generally do not consider issues
which were not addressed by the Court of Appeals, we find it necessary to
do so here.
South Carolina Code Ann. § 42-9-60 provides "[n]o compensation shall
be payable if the injury ... was occasioned by the intoxication of the
employee . . .". We have interpreted this provision as barring
compensation when the employee's intoxication is the proximate cause of
the injury. Kinsey v. Champion American Service Center, 268 S.C. 177,
232 S.E.2d 720 (1977).
The only evidence in the record is that claimant had consumed a
portion of one beer when he was confronted by McDowell. There is no
evidence claimant was intoxicated or that his consumption of alcohol
proximately caused his injury. Accordingly, claimant is not barred from
recovery under the Workers' Compensation Act.
The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the order of the
circuit court remanding this matter to the Workers' Compensation
Commission for entry of an order awarding benefits is reinstated.
FINNEY, C.J., TOAL, MOORE and WALLER, JJ., concur.
2 See Larson, Workers' Compensation Law § 29.21 (1997)(suggesting
where work-connected assaults occur outside working hours where "course
of employment" is virtually nonexistent, court should consider strength of
causal connection between injury and employment).