FAWZIA H. ABOAGWA, Employee, Plaintiff, v. RALEIGH LIONS CLINIC
FOR THE BLIND, INC., Employer, UNITED PACIFIC INSURANCE COMPANY
(Insolvent)/N.C. INSURANCE GUARANTY ASSOCIATION, Carriers,
Appeal by Defendants from Opinion and Award of the North
Carolina Industrial Commission entered 28 July 2003. Heard in the
Court of Appeals 21 September 2004.
George W. Lennon, for plaintiff-appellee.
Brooks, Stevens, & Pope, P.A., by Daniel C. Pope, Jr. and Dana
C. Moody, for defendant-appellants.
Defendants Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind, Inc. (the
Clinic), United Pacific Insurance Company, and N.C. Insurance
Guaranty Association (collectively Defendants) appeal from an
Opinion and Award of the North Carolina Industrial Commission,
contending that the Industrial Commission erred in: (1) concluding
that Plaintiff Fawzia Aboagwa 's (Aboagwa) 23 and 26 October 2000
falls at work caused or aggravated her spine condition; (2)
applying the incorrect legal standard and failing to consider the
totality of the evidence; and (3) concluding that Aboagwa was
disabled as defined by North Carolina General Statute section 97-2
and awarding ongoing temporary total disability benefits. For the
reasons stated herein, we disagree and affirm the Industrial
Commission's Opinion and Award.
The procedural and factual history of the instant appeal is as
follows: Aboagwa worked as a sewing machine operator for the
Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind from November 1999 until
December 2000. Aboagwa had no notable problems with her back or
neck prior to October 2000. However, in October 2000, Aboagwa fell
twice at her workplace. On 23 October 2000, she slipped and fellon her back in the company cafeteria. Aboagwa did not seek
treatment for the fall, but took Tylenol for pain. On 26 October
2000, Aboagwa fell yet again, this time while pushing a large cart
of sewing materials to her workstation. The fall was witnessed by
another employee, as well as by Aboagwa's supervisor, who urged
Aboagwa to see the plant nurse. Aboagwa insisted on returning to
her workstation but sought medical treatment the following morning.
She first saw M. Hisham Mohamed, M.D., though was uncomfortable
with him, found him to be not good [at] listen[ing], and felt he
did not understand [her]. She therefore switched to Mohammad
Delbahar Hossain, M.D. and has been treated by him ever since.
Aboagwa experienced pain and dizziness but nevertheless worked
through October and November 2000. An MRI revealed that Aboagwa
had a herniated disc, for which she received treatment from Charles
Joseph Matthews, M.D. and Michael M. Haglund, M.D. Because
conservative treatments were unsuccessful, Aboagwa underwent
cervical fusion surgery at Duke University Medical Center.
Dr. Hossain found Aboagwa to be disabled from performing her
job. Dr. Matthews also found Aboagwa to be disabled and ordered
her out of work until further notice on 2 January 2001. Again, on
8 May 2001, Dr. Matthews found Aboagwa completely disabled. Dr.
Haglund also found it likely that Aboagwa was temporarily totally
disabled from the falls, which either caused or aggravated a
preexisting condition that led to her eventually needing thetreatment and the surgery she underwent.
On 1 April 2002, Aboagwa's workers' compensation claim was
heard by Deputy Commissioner Morgan S. Chapman. Deputy
Commissioner Chapman denied Aboagwa's claim; Aboagwa appealed. On
14 May 2003, Aboagwa's appeal was heard by the full Industrial
Commission, which, in its Opinion and Award filed 28 July 2003,
reversed Deputy Commissioner Chapman's Opinion and Award.
In reviewing a decision of the Industrial Commission, this
Court is limited to reviewing whether any competent evidence
supports the Commission's findings of fact and whether the findings
of fact support the Commission's conclusions of law. Deese v.
Champion Int'l Corp.
, 352 N.C. 109, 116, 530 S.E.2d 549, 553 (2000);
Skillin v. Magna Corp
./Greene's Tree Service, Inc.
, 152 N.C. App.
41, 47, 566 S.E.2d 717, 721 (2002) (same). An appellate court
reviewing a workers' compensation claim does not have the right to
weigh the evidence and decide the issue on the basis of its weight.
Adams v. AVX Corp.
, 349 N.C. 676, 681, 509 S.E.2d 411, 414 (1998)
(quotation omitted). Rather, the Court's duty goes no further than
to determine whether the record contains any evidence tending to
support the finding. Id
. (quotation omitted). If there is any
evidence at all, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
the finding of fact stands, even if there was substantial evidencegoing the other way. Id
 Defendants, citing their Assignments of Error 5, 7, 9, 11,
13, 18-27, contend the Industrial Commission erred in concluding
that Aboagwa's 23 and 26 October 2000 falls at work caused or
aggravated her spine condition. Here, evidence, including not only
Aboagwa's own testimony or that of her daughter, but also the
testimony of several medical doctors, support the Industrial
Commission's finding. Dr. Matthews testified that he believed
Aboagwa's injuries to be within a reasonable degree of medical
certainty consistent with  the work-related injury that she
described. Dr. Haglund testified that he believed [t]hat
[Aboagwa's] falls either caused or aggravated a preexisting
condition that led to her eventually needing the treatment and the
surgery she underwent. Dr. Hossain testified that Aboagwa's falls
may have aggravate[d] or worsen[ed] a preexisting back
condition. The Industrial Commission's finding that Aboagwa's 23
and 26 October 2000 falls at work caused or aggravated her spinal
condition is supported by some competent evidence. We therefore
must affirm the Opinion and Award.
 Next, Defendants take issue with Finding of Fact 15, in
which the Industrial Commission found that no physician testified
to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that plaintiff's back
injuries were likely caused solely by something other than
plaintiff's falls at work. Defendants assert that the IndustrialCommission mistakenly required Defendants to prove that Aboagwa's
falls had not aggravated a preexisting condition. We disagree.
Defendants are correct that a claimant has the burden of
proving that his [workers' compensation] claim is compensable[.]
Henry v. A. C. Lawrence Leather Co.
, 231 N.C. 477, 479, 57 S.E.2d
760, 761 (1950) (citing Bolling v. Belk-White Co.
, 228 N.C. 749, 46
S.E.2d 838 (1948); Hayes v. Bd. of Trs. of Elon Coll.
, 224 N.C. 11,
29 S.E.2d 137 (1944); Gassaway v. Gassaway & Owen, Inc.
, 220 N.C.
694, 18 S.E.2d 120 (1942); McGill v. Town of Lumberton
, 215 N.C.
752, 3 S.E.2d 324 (1939)). Defendants, however, apparently failed
to notice that in Finding of Fact 20, the Industrial Commission
explicitly stated that plaintiff has proven by the greater weight
of the evidence that she incurred injuries by accident on October
23 and 26, 2000 that caused or aggravated a preexisting condition
of her neck and back that have rendered her disabled from
working[.] The Industrial Commission properly placed the burden
of proof on Aboagwa, not Defendants. Finding of Fact 15, stating
that no physician testified to a reasonable degree of medical
certainty that plaintiff's back injuries were likely caused solely
by something other than plaintiff's falls at work[,] did not place
the burden of proof on Defendants, but rather was relevant as to
whether Aboagwa's injuries arose from her employment. See, e.g.,
Mills v. City of New Bern
, 122 N.C. App. 283, 285, 468 S.E.2d 587,
589 (1996) (When the employee's  condition is the sole cause ofthe injury, the injury does not arise out of the employment.)
(citation omitted)). We therefore find no error.
Defendants further cite to their Assignments of Error 1-2, 11-
12, and 16-27 and argue that the Industrial Commission erred by
wholly disregarding and ignoring competent evidence before it.
Defendants ground this charge in Findings of Fact 6 and 7, in which
the Industrial Commission noted that Dr. Mohamed saw Aboagwa, but
that Aboagwa felt that he was 'not good at listening' and 'he did
not understand me.' Defendants contend Dr. Mohamed's testimony
that he felt he understood Aboagwa and that he and Aboagwa spoke
Arabic together, as well as the Opinion and Award's failure to
address Aboagwa's changed doctors and  story, demonstrate the
Industrial Commission failed to consider all the evidence. We
Contrary to Defendants' contention, the Industrial Commission
explicitly stated that it had considered the totality of the
medical and lay evidence[.] That the Industrial Commission viewed
this evidence in a light different than that preferred by Defendants
is not an issue properly reviewed by this Court. Clearly, it is
not the function of any appellate court to retry the facts found by
the Commission or weigh the evidence received by it and decide anew
the issue of compensability of an employee's claim. Buck v.
Procter & Gamble Mfg. Co.
, 52 N.C. App. 88, 92, 278 S.E.2d 268, 271
(1981) (citing Inscoe v. DeRose Indus., Inc.
, 292 N.C. 210, 232S.E.2d 449 (1977); Anderson v. Lincoln Constr. Co.
, 265 N.C. 431,
144 S.E.2d 272 (1965)).
 Lastly, Defendants, citing Assignments of Error 18, 21, 23-
24, and 26, argue that the Industrial Commission erred by concluding
that Aboagwa was disabled as defined by North Carolina General
Statute section 97-2 and awarding ongoing temporary total disability
benefits. North Carolina General Statute section 97-2 defines
disability as the incapacity because of injury to earn the wages
which the employee was receiving at the time of injury in the same
or any other employment. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-2(9) (2003). An
employee may show such disability through:
(1) the production of medical evidence that he is
physically or mentally, as a consequence of the work
related injury, incapable of work in any employment
the production of evidence that he is capable of some
work, but that he has, after a reasonable effort on his
part, been unsuccessful in his effort to obtain
; (3) the production of evidence that he is
capable of some work but that it would be futile because
of preexisting conditions, i.e.
, age, inexperience, lack
of education, to seek other employment; or (4) the
production of evidence that he has obtained other
employment at a wage less than that earned prior to the
Russell v. Lowes Prod. Dist.
, 108 N.C. App. 762, 765, 425 S.E.2d
454, 457 (1993) (citations omitted).
Here, Aboagwa produced some medical evidence that she was
physically incapable of work due to her workplace falls. For
example, Dr. Haglund testified that Aboagwa was likely temporarilytotally disabled. Dr. Matthews also noted in each of Aboagwa's
visits that she was likely disabled. The Industrial Commission
noted in its Opinion and Award that Dr. Haglund gave [Aboagwa] a
 permanent partial disability rating for her spine and found that
Aboagwa was rendered  disabled from working and entitled to
receive temporary disability benefits. Because there was some
medical evidence supporting the Industrial Commission's finding that
Aboagwa was disabled and thus entitled to disability benefits, we
affirm the Opinion and Award. Deese
, 352 N.C. at 116, 530 S.E.2d
at 553 (reviewing court need only find that competent evidence
supports the Commission's findings of fact and [that] the findings
of fact support the Commission's conclusions of law).
For the foregoing reasons, we find that the Industrial
Commission did not: (1) err in concluding that Aboagwa's 23 and 26
October 2000 falls at work caused or aggravated her spine condition;
(2) apply an incorrect legal standard; (3) fail to consider the
totality of the evidence; or (4) err in concluding that plaintiff
was disabled as defined by North Carolina General Statute section
97-2 and in awarding ongoing temporary total disability benefits.
Accordingly, we affirm the Industrial Commission's Opinion and
Judges HUNTER and THORNBURG concur.
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