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Horry County ordered to pay workers’ comp to family of deputy who died after working large fire

In March 2013, Horry County Sheriff's Deputy Timothy Causey was assigned three 12-hour shifts...
In March 2013, Horry County Sheriff's Deputy Timothy Causey was assigned three 12-hour shifts patrolling the structural fire at Windsor Green. Two months later, he died.(Source: MHN)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 1:53 PM EST
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Story courtesy of our news partners, MyHorryNews

The U.S. Court of Appeals has ordered Horry County to pay worker’s compensation to the family of Timothy Causey, an Horry County Sheriff’s Office deputy who died two months after working three 12-hour shifts at a complex damaged by a large structural fire.

Causey had performed security duties at Windsor Green apartments in March 2013, after the fire destroyed 26 buildings.

The ruling reverses an appellate panel with the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Commission, which itself had reversed a SCWCC Single Commissioner’s decision to award death benefits.

“Our review of the Appellate Panel’s order—in conjunction with the medical records, deposition transcripts, live testimony, and submitted expert opinions—convinces us that substantial evidence does not support the Appellate Panel’s findings,” the court wrote, “most notably, its statement that ‘[n]o opinion of any doctor who actually treated Causey supports a finding that Causey sustained any injury due to his alleged smoke exposure.’”

Describing a series of errors, the court found that the appellate summaries had contained multiple discrepancies when compared with the deposition transcripts, deemed witnesses who could not speak with a degree of medical certainty as “corroborating” while dismissing the only ones who could as “speculative” and repeatedly mischaracterized physician testimony — at one point leading the panel to not only misunderstand the medical opinion of the admitting physician but then ask the other physicians questions that misstated Causey’s condition.

“The Appellate Panel relied upon its finding that ‘no opinion of any doctor who actually treated Causey supports a finding that Causey sustained any injury due to his alleged smoke exposure,’” the court wrote. “This finding, in addition to the Panel’s opening statement that four of Deputy Causey’s treating physicians agreed ‘smoke exposure played no role in Causey’s death’ mischaracterized Dr. Charlton Strange’s testimony. Other MUSC physicians then relied upon the mischaracterization of Dr. Strange’s testimony in responding to questioning during their own depositions.”

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