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.
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)
On remand, the court of appeals affirmed the commission's 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 that [the commission] reached or must have reached" to support its orders. Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 135, 276 S.E.2d 304, 306 (1981).
Lewis argues the court of appeals erred in holding the commission's findings were supported by substantial evidence. We agree.
We defer to the commission as the finder of fact and do not engage in weighing the evidence before it. See, e.g., Pierre v. Seaside Farms, Inc., 386 S.C. 534, 540, 689 S.E.2d 615, 618 (2010). Accordingly, we make no comment on the sufficiency of the evidence presented by Lewis. However, the commission's order was devoid of any specific and detailed findings of fact to substantiate the award. See S.C. Code Ann. § 42-9-5 (2015) ("Any award made pursuant to this title must be based upon specific and written detailed findings of fact substantiating the award."). The commission summarily concluded Lewis was entitled to an award of $75 per week, without indicating what total it assigned to her average weekly wages, or how it reached that figure. Moreover, the commission's finding that Lewis presented "no evidence whatsoever" as to the amount of money she earned is plainly wrong. Therefore, we find the commission's order was not supported by substantial evidence and remand the matter of Lewis's award to the commission for a de novo hearing.
Based on the foregoing, we find the court of appeals erred in upholding the commission's order. In light of this case's procedural history and in fairness to both parties, we remand to the commission for a de novo hearing to determine the amount of benefits to which Lewis is entitled. The court of appeals' opinion is