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Workmen's compensation. Glynn Superior Court. Before Judge Flexer.
Charles Collins, the appellee herein, was injured on July 27, 1968, while operating a truck belonging to Cato Moving & Storage, Inc., on the public highways of South Carolina. Cato, at the time of the accident which forms the basis of this claim, was the immediate employer of Collins, and was transporting goods under an agreement with Greyhound Van Lines.
A workmen's compensation claim was instituted against Greyhound by Collins, seeking to hold Greyhound liable as the employer of Collins. Cato was never made a party to this action. A hearing was held before a deputy director of the State Board of Workmen's Compensation. An award was issued denying any compensation to Collins based on the findings of fact that both Cato and Greyhound did not have ten employees with in the State of Georgia and further that Greyhound had not qualified as a self-insurer, nor was it covered by a Workmen's Compensation policy.
An appeal was taken by Collins to the full board of workmen's compensation from the award of the deputy director. The appeal came before the full board, and an award was issued, remanding the case to the deputy director for the purpose of taking additional evidence as to whether Greyhound had more than ten employees in the State of Georgia in July, 1968.
After the taking of additional evidence, the full board issued an award granting compensation to Collins under the provisions of Code Ann. 114-112 (Ga. L. 1969, p. 671), and holding that Collins was an employee of Cato and that Cato was a sub-contractor and Greyhound was the general contractor.
Greyhound appealed the award to the superior court which affirmed the award of the Workmen's Compensation Board. The case is now here for review.
An award of the State Board of Workmen's Compensation must contain findings of fact upon which it is based, Code 114-707, and these findings must be sufficient to support the award as to the issues determined therein.
There are certain essential findings of fact that must be made in every workmen's compensation award and they must be more than mere conclusions couched in the language of the statute. Southeasterly Express Co. v. Edmondson, 30 Ga. App. 697 (1) (119 SE 39); American Mut. Liability Ins. Co. v. Hardy, 36 Ga. App. 487 (137 SE 113). One essential element of every workmen's compensation award is a determination of whether the employer has a sufficient number of employees to bring the claim within the provisions of the Act.
In the present case it should be noted that the award of the deputy director made a finding of fact that neither Cato nor Greyhound had ten or more employees within the state and therefore did not come within the provisions of the Compensation Act. This award was appealed to the full board which then remanded the claim to the deputy director "for the purpose of taking additional evidence to show whether or not Greyhound Van Lines had ten (10) employees within the State." Additional evidence was taken and the full board issued an award. However, the full board in its second award failed to make any finding of fact as to whether Greyhound had ten or more employees within the state. Its failure to state this essential finding was fatal to the award.
The appellee argues that the board did in fact make such a finding when it granted the appellee compensation. With this contention we do not agree. As stated previously in this opinion a mere conclusion stated in the language of the statute is not sufficient. Southeastern Express Co. v. Edmonson, supra.
The appellee also argues that the any evidence rule applies, Code Ann. 114-710, and that it is not necessary for the award to actually make such a finding of fact if there is evidence in the record which would support the same. A contrary rule renders this argument void. It is true that where the record shows that the facts are undisputed as to an essential finding it is unnecessary to remand the claim to the board. Employers Liability Assurance Corp. Ltd. v. Montgomery, 45 Ga. App. 634 (2) (165 SE 903). If, however, as in the case sub judice, the evidence does not demand a specific conclusion then it is necessary for the board to make its finding of fact and decide the issue. In the claim before us the evidence clearly does not demand a finding that Greyhound had ten or more employees within the state at the time the appellee was injured.
Moreover, the record is still very vague on this subject and this case is hereby reversed and remanded with direction that the State Board of Workmen's Compensation be directed to take additional evidence and determine the issue as to whether Greyhound comes within the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act.
Judgment reversed with direction. Bell, C. J., and Clark, J., concur.
Taylor, Bishop & Lee, John R. Ferrelle, for appellee.
Fendig, Dickey, Fendig & Whelchel, Richard A. Brown, Jr., for appellant.
Friday May 22 11:53 EDT

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