McRae v. Wall, 260 N.C. 576 (1963)

Nov. 27, 1963 · Supreme Court of North Carolina
260 N.C. 576


(Filed 27 November 1963.)

1. Master and Seiwant § 93—

On appeal from the Industrial Commission the courts determine only wbetber as a matter of law the facts found by 'the Commission support its conclusions and wbetber they justify the award, and the findings of fact of the Commission are conclusive when supported by competent evidence.

2. Master and Servant § 64—

Evidence .tending to show that plaintiff employee was injured when a cement block wall collapsed and blocks struck him on the left band and bead, that the injury to the band resulted in a permanent partial disability but that the injury to the bead did not break the skin but caused a knot which subsided shortly thereafter, held to. support am aiwiard for disability of the band but not to support a finding that a disfiguring scar on the bead some eighth of an inch wide and five inches long, which appeared subsequent to the injury, was the result of the injury.

Appeal by defendíante from Johnston, J., March, 1963 Civil Session, Richmond Superior Court.

This proceeding originated as a workmen’s 'Compensation claim for injuries aind disfigurement resulting from an industrial accident. The *577North Carolina Industrial Commission held a hearing at which all jurisdictional facts and the claimant's average weekly wage were stipulated. The evidence disclosed the claimant suffered a 'hand and head injury as a result of a collapsing cement block wall which he was laying as underpinning for a new house. He testified: “The wall was six or seven, blocks high, each block is 8 inches, several of them fell on me 'and struck me on the left hand and in .the .head, .the left side of my head; I would feel dizzy like I was going to fall, my hand was swollen. I was treated by Dr. V. G. Watters. I saw him the same day. I went back to work the next day. It commenced to give me trouble later on. My left hand was giving me more trouble than 'anything else. I worked on until the job was almost finished. I had to stop on account of my left hand. I was out about four weeks. The doctor did not tell me anything about working- or not working. Since the .accident, my head ¡has given me dizzy spells. I have this scar.”

By the Court: “A soar five inches long one inch above hiis left ear extending from the forehead two and a .half inches -back of left ear— slight discoloration — no hair growing in the scar, which is about an eighth -of an inch wide.” * * *

“I did not claim to be disabled until the j ob wais over. I have not been to .any doctor other than Dr. Watters and saw no. doctor between the Safie job and December, 1961. The skin was not broken .on my head or my hand When I was struck. The doctor gave me a prescription. The hair began to leave my head 'and the soar to show two or -three weeks later. All I did wais to. wash it with soap and water. It won’t festered. The hair came out and .the lightness showed through.”

“I had this scar .about three weeks after the block fell on me. I saw the doctor two or three times. The scar did not come all a.t one time. I did not use .any •application — just rubbed it with turpentine.”

The .accident occurred on December 5, 1960. The claimant called ais his witness Dr. V. G. Watters, who treated the injuries immediately after the accident. Dr. Watters testified as his opinion the claimant had suffered a .permanent partial disability of 10 to 15 per cent in the left thumb and forefinger. With respect to the head injury, he testified: “I do not think .the skin was broken, just bruised; the knot on the head was the size of a quarter. The knot had subsided on December 12, 1961. I do not recall any injury which would have resulted in the ©car he now has.”

The hearing commissioner found the injury to- the hand and the disfiguring soar, five inches long, one-eight’h-inch wide across the head above the 1-eft ear, were results of the accident and entered 'an award *578of compensation for tibe permanent partial injury ¡to the band, and allowed ia lump sum payment of 1250.00 for the disfigurement. The full Commission on review, and tlhe Superior Count on appeal, affirmed. The employer and .his insurance carrier appealed.

Page & Page by John T. Page, Jr., for plaintiff employee, appellee.

I. Weisner Farmer for defendants, appellants.

HiggiNS, J.

When called upon to review the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and awards of tihe North Carolina Industrial Commission in .compensation oases, tlhe courts determine ais a matter of law whether the facts found support the Commission’s conclusions, and whether they justify the awards. However, in passing on challenged findings of fact, the courts must approve tlhe findings if -they are supported by competent evidence. Hence the Court may set aside a finding of fact only upon the ground it lacks evidentiary support. Blalock v. Durham, 244 N.C. 208, 92 S.E. 2d 758; Watson v. Harris Clay Co., 242 N.C. 763, 89 S.E. 2d 465; Creighton v. Snipes, 227 N.C. 90, 40 S.E. 2d 612.

We have no difficulty in finding in the -record evidence to- support the finding that claimant sustained by 'accident a compensable injury to his hand. The award on that -account is sustained. However, evidence is lacking to support the finding that claimant sustained & disfiguring scar five -inches long, one-eighth-inoh wide, across the side of bis head above his left ear. Claimant himself testified the skin was not broken on his head. “The hair began- to leave my head >and the scar to ish'ow two or three weeks later. . . . The sear 'did not come ’all -at one time. I did not use any applications . . . just rubbed it with turpentine.”

The claimant’s doctor -testified ¡the head injury consisted of -a, knot about the size of -a quarter which had .subsided when he saw him- again on© week -after the accident. The Skin was not broken. “I do not recall any injury which would result in- the soar he now hais . . . the lump I saw could not have resulted i-n the loss of hair. Th-ils soar looks as if the skin was cut or broken 'and sewed up. I did not find 'any such condition when I first examined him.”

Because of lack of evidence to- sustain it, we must strike -the Commission’s Finding No-. 4. The evidence -simply fails to- show the disfiguring soar was tire result of the accident.

The proceeding will be remanded to the North Carolina Industrial Commission with -direction to -strike -both its Finding -of Fact No-. 4 and *579the 'award of $250.00 based thereon. As thus modified, the findings and ¡award are affirmed.

Modified 'and affirmed.