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September 24th, 2018
workers compensation
SIA K NEWMAN SUCCEEDS AT TRIAL IN CHALLENGING PLAINTIFF’S CLAIM OF 100 PERCENT PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY

Employee Joseph Fields, (“Fields”) filed a Complaint against his employer Sexton Lawn & Landscape, for workers’ compensation benefits relating to right leg and lower back injuries he allegedly received from a brown recluse spider bite on August 13, 2015, while in the course and scope of his employment with Sexton Lawn & Landscape. 

Fields claimed that the bite wound became infected and required extensive medical treatment, including multiple surgeries.  He also alleged the spider bite and resulting surgeries caused a permanent altered gait resulting in a claimed lower back injury. Fields further claimed that he had not been able to return to work since the subject incident and that he was 100% permanently and totally disabled. 

It was undisputed that Fields had not returned to work since the subject spider bite incident and that he had been awarded Social Security Disability Insurance benefits by the time the case went to trial.  However, Sexton Lawn & Landscape denied that Fields suffered any disability as a result of the subject spider bite injury.  It argued that the wound injury, which was to his scheduled member foot, not leg, had completely resolved and that his claimed lower back injury was personal in nature, unrelated to the subject incident and not compensable under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act.

The case was tried on July 16, 2018, before Judge J. Clark Stankoski in Baldwin County, Alabama.  On September 8, 2018, the Court entered its Final Judgment finding that Fields suffered only an injury to his scheduled member right foot, but that he did not suffer any permanent impairment as a result of same.  Furthermore, the Court found that Fields did not suffer a compensable back injury as a result of the subject incident and was not entitled to any benefits under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, whatsoever, as a result of his claimed back injury.

In summary, Fields’ 100% permanent and total disability claim was defeated.  He was found to have a compensable spider bite to his right foot, but that the spider bite did not cause any permanent impairment.  No compensation benefits were awarded, and costs were taxed as paid.
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