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workers compensation
ALABAMA COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS FINDS EMPLOYEE’S FRAUD, OUTRAGE AND CONSPIRACY CLAIMS ARE NOT BARRED BY EXCLUSIVE REMEDY PROVISION OF ALA. CODE SECTION 25 5 53

On October 18, 2019, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an opinion holding that Plaintiff Orethaniel Swain’s (“Plaintiff”) outrage, fraud and conspiracy claims against Defendants AIG Claims, Inc., Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, Coventry Health Care Workers’ Compensation, Inc. and Jackie Angeles (“Defendants”), based on the handling of his worker’s compensation claim were not barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of Ala. Code § 25-5-53 and stated a valid claim. Swain v. AIG Claims, Inc., 2019 WL 5284748, at *10 (Ala.Civ.App. 2019).





workers compensation
A PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS IS NOT THE PROPER REMEDY FOR REQUESTING REVIEW OF DISCOVERY ORDERS

In Ex parte Farley, --- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 2558824 (Ala. Civ. App. June 21, 2019), the Employee, Randy Farley (“Farley”) filed suit for workers’ compensation benefits against his Employer, Transport America, Inc. (“Transport America”) in Etowah County, Alabama.  As part of its discovery requests, Transport America asked that Farley execute releases for obtaining certain records, including his Social Security disability records, tax records from the Alabama Department of Internal Revenue and records from Alabama Department of Labor.  Farley refused, arguing that the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure did not require execution of releases and that such a requirement would result in an overly broad release of information. 






workers compensation
ATTORNEYS AARON ASHCRAFT AND JOHN C. WEBB PREVAILED ON A RES JUDICATA ARGUMENT, OBTAINING SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASE

Attorneys Aaron Ashcraft and John C. Webb recently obtained summary judgment in a workers’ compensation action pending in Bessemer Alabama. The summary judgment asserted a novel res judicata argument, and was based on the proposition that a Plaintiff cannot recover benefits after previously asserting, and settling, a claim for permanent total disability benefits against the same employer.





workers compensation
TRIAL COURT NOT BOUND BY IMPAIRMENT RATINGS ASSIGNED BY TREATING PHYSICIAN
In Tuscaloosa County v. Beville, 28 ALW 170-3 (2171022), 4/19/2019, Employee Chaka Beville (“Beville”) slipped and fell while working in the course and scope of her employment at the Tuscaloosa County jail in 2014, injuring her left wrist.  She was treated by her authorized treating physician, Dr. Buckley, who performed surgery and later ordered a Functional Capacities Evaluation (“FCE”).




workers compensation
THE ALABAMA COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS REVERSES PAIN MANAGEMENT ORDER BY TRIAL COURT
In Ex parte Trusswalk, Inc., No. 2180266, 2019 WL 1415997 (Ala. Civ. App.), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reviewed a trial court’s order directing an employer to provide pain management treatment for a workers’ compensation claimant.




workers compensation
THE ALABAMA SUPREME COURT REVERSES PRIOR PRECEDENT AND CLARIFIES VENUE IN A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACTION AGAINST A FOREIGN CORPORATION
Venue for actions against corporations, both domestic and foreign, are governed by Ala. Code §6-3-7(a)(3) (1975). The statute provides an action may be brought against a corporation in “the county in which the plaintiff resided, or if the plaintiff is an entity other than an individual, where the plaintiff had its principal office in this state, at the time of the accrual of the cause of action, if such corporation does business by agent in the county of the plaintiff's residence.”
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.

workers compensation
THE COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS CONFIRMS THAT AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING MUST BE CONDUCTED BEFORE A TRIAL JUDGE CAN COMPEL MEDICAL TREATMENT
In Ex parte Sears Roebuck and Co., 27 ALW 20-6 (2170632), 5/11/2018, the employee, Jeffrey Donaldson, (“Donaldson”), filed a Complaint for workers’ compensation benefits against his employer, Sears Roebuck and Co. (“Sears”) alleging that he suffered a compensable injury to his back while repairing an air-ventilation unit in 2016.




workers compensation
SUPREME COURT RULES IN VENUE MATTER DETERMINING THAT INTEREST OF JUSTICE OVERRIDES INITIAL SELECTION OF THE FORUM

Stephen Hrobowski (“Hrobowski”) was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Montgomery County, Alabama in 2015 wherein his vehicle collided with a vehicle being operated by Kevin Ledyard (“Ledyard”).  The impact of this collision caused Ledyard’s vehicle to strike a vehicle being operated by Roosevelt McCorvey (“McCorvey”).

workers compensation
THE 10TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOUND ALJ’S FOR THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION TO BE IN VIOLATION OF THE APPOINTMENTS CLAUSE, WHICH COULD POTENTIALLY UPEND THE BLACK LUNG BENEFITS ACT

An opinion from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Bandimere v. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n, 844 F.3d 1168 (10th Cir. 2016), has the potential to substantially upend the Black Lung Benefits Act, particularly as it concerns authority of Administrative Law Judges to decided cases under the Black Lung Benefit Act.

workers compensation
THE ALABAMA COURT OF CIVIL APEALS CLARIFIES WHAT COSTS ARE RECOVERABLE BY A PREVAILING PARTY IN A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASE

Section 25–5–89 of Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act provides a trial court the discretion to tax costs incurred by an injured party in pursuing their claim against an employer. However, this discretion is not unfettered and in Ex parte Ampro Prod., Inc., No. 2160818, 2017 WL 4563053, at *1 (Ala. Civ. App. Oct. 13, 2017), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals addressed the properness of such costs.




workers compensation
SUPERVISORS’ FAILURE TO INSTALL A SAFER SAW THAT WAS ON THE PREMISES IS NOT EQUIVALENT TO A REMOVAL OF A SAFETY GUARD FOR PURPOSES OF LIABILITY UNDER THE ALABAMA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT

In Saarinen v. Hall, 26 ALW 36-8 (1160066), 9/1/2017, the Supreme Court held that the failure of the employee’s supervisors to install a safer saw that was on the employer’s premises was not the equivalent of removing a safety guard from an existing saw so as to subject the supervisors to liability under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act.




workers compensation
EMPLOYEE BEARS THE BURDEN OF ESTABLISHING MEDICAL CAUSATION AND CONFLICTING EVIDENCE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE RESOLVED IN FAVOR OF EMPLOYEE

In Wyatt v. Baptist Health Sys., Inc., No. 2160280, 2017 WL 3096691, at *1 (Ala. Civ. App. July 21, 2017), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals clarified that the Plaintiff bore the burden of establishing medical causation and that the fact finder did not have to resolve all reasonable doubts in conflicting medical evidence in her favor.




workers compensation
THE RETURN TO WORK STATUTE MUST BE PLEAD AS AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE OR IS DEEMED WAIVED

In Grieser v. Advanced Disposal Services Alabama, LLC, 26 ALW 33-4 (2160290), 8/11/17, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed a trial court’s refusal to consider the employee’s vocational disability and held that separate circumstances relieving an employer’s liability under the “Return to Work” statute are affirmative defenses which must be plead or are deemed waived.




workers compensation
IMPORTANCE OF INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE THIRD PARTY CLAIMS OF INJURED EMPLOYEES

Typically, if an employee is injured on the job they can file two types of actions. First, and the most traditional, is filing suit against their employer for workers’ compensation benefits. Second, if the injured employee sustained the injury as a result of a defective product or in a car accident involving an individual who is not a co-employee, they have the right to file a separate suit against that entity or individual.



workers compensation
AARON ASHCRAFT OBTAINS DEFENSE VERDICT IN SHELBY COUNTY, ALABAMA
In Lawley v. Chelsea Hidden Acres, Aaron Ashcraft obtained a defense verdict from Judge Sonny Conwill following a bench trial. The Plaintiff alleged she sustained an injury in the course and scope of her employment as a patient care tech, lifting a resident out of a bed on July 23, 2013.



workers compensation
COURT DISMISSES PLAINTIFF’S LAWSUIT FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH DISCOVERY

In Horton v. Hinton, 26 ALW13-4 (2150631), the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit based on plaintiff’s failure to comply with discovery orders.  




workers compensation
ALABAMA SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS EMPLOYERS RIGHT TO CLAIM IMMUNITY FROM TORT CLAIMS FOR EMPLOYEES INJURED ON THE JOB WHO ARE OBTAINED THROUGH STAFFING AGENCIES

In Ex parte Tenax Corp., the Alabama Supreme Court reaffirmed that the exclusive-remedy provisions of the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act, § 25–5–1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975 can provide immunity from tort claims filed by workers’ provided to an employer through a staffing agency.




workers compensation
ALABAMA COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS ADDRESSES SCOPE OF JURISDICTION FOR OUT OF STATE INJURIES

In Hand Constr., LLC v. Stringer, the Court of Civil Appeals addressed an issue regarding the scope of jurisdiction under the Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act for out of state injuries. The Plaintiff, a resident of Mobile, Alabama, entered into a contract for hire with a construction contractor operating out of Shreveport, Louisiana. The job offer was communicated to the Plaintiff while he was in Mobile, but he traveled to Louisiana to sign the employment contract.




workers compensation
REASONABLY NECESSARY MILEAGE COSTS

On September 16, 2016, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released its decision in Page v. Southern Care, Inc., --- So.3d ---, 2016 WL4938180 regarding reimbursement of reasonably necessary mileage costs.   

workers compensation
ALABAMA SUPREME COURT REVIEWS ISSUES RELATING TO COURSE AND SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT, FINDS ASSAULT AND BATTERY AND OUTRAGE CLAIMS ARE BARRED BY THE EXCLUSIVITY PROVISION

An interesting decision concerning the course and scope of employment was recently issued by the Alabama Supreme Court, in Ex parte Lincare Inc. The Plaintiff in the action resigned from her employment with Lincare on June 6, 2014, and submitted a letter of resignation to her supervisor. After she presented her supervisor with the resignation letter, her supervisor confronted her with paperwork, which the Plaintiff forcibly removed from her supervisor’s hand.

workers compensation
COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS CLARIFIES WHEN A TRIAL COURT’S DECISION IS A FINAL JUDGMENT FOR PURPOSES OF APPEAL

In Ex parte Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, (Ala. Civ. App. May 6, 2016)[25 ALW 20], the employee Sarah Brown (“Brown”) filed a workers’ compensation action against her employer Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. (“Lowe’s), seeking medical treatment for her claimed back injury and an award of disability benefits.

workers compensation
JOHN C. WEBB OBTAINS A DEFENSE VERDICT

John Webb recently prevailed in a workers’ compensation trial before Judge D. Alan Mann in Madison County, Alabama in Antonio Octaviano v. Coast Personnel Services, Inc.

workers compensation
COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS FINDS EMPLOYER RESPONSIBLE FOR KNEE REPLACEMENTS

In, Ex parte Reed Contracting Servs., Inc., No. 2150230, 2016 WL 360725 (Ala. Civ. App. Jan. 29, 2016), the plaintiff, Henry Riley (“Riley”), injured both of his knees and wrists during the course of his employment with his employer, Reed Contracting Services (“Reed”) when he fell from a man lift in March 2012. Id. at *1. Riley was diagnosed with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, and osteoarthritis in both knees in the months after the accident.

workers compensation
AARON ASHCRAFT PREVAILS IN COMPENSABILITY HEARING

Aaron Ashcraft recently prevailed in a compensability hearing before Judge Steven Haddock in Decatur, Alabama in Darrin Hester v. Minor Tire Company, et al.

workers compensation
ALABAMA COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS FINDS EMPLOYER NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR PERMANENT INJURY CAUSED BY PREEXISTING CONDITION

On February 27, 2015, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an opinion re-affirming the principle that an employer is only liable under the Worker’s Compensation Act for treatment of the temporary injury when a work related injury aggravates a preexisting condition. Ex parte Fairhope Health & Rehab, LLC, 2015 WL 836706, at *7 (Ala. Civ. App. Feb. 27, 2015).

workers compensation
IDIOPATHIC DEFENSE
The doctrine of “idiopathic falls” can be a very fruitful defense in workers’ compensation cases. The doctrine arises from the general rule that, “the employment must be the source and cause of the accident in order to be compensable as a workers’ compensation injury.” Slimford Manuf. Co. v. Martin, 417 So. 2d 199 (Ala. Civ. App. 1981).
workers compensation
JOHN C. WEBB OBTAINS A DEFENSE VERDICT IN A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION HEARING LOSS CASE

John Webb recently obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a global coal mining company in a workers’ compensation hearing loss trial.

workers compensation
EMPLOYEE’S PARTICIPATION IN A RECREATIONAL ACTIVITY THE EMPLOYER DID NOT DERIVE ANY BENEFIT FROM FOUND TO NOT BE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HER EMPLOYMENT

On February 27, 2015, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals entered a decision in the case of Pollock v. Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, Inc., 24 ALW 10-6 (2130538), 2/27/15. The issue in Pollock was whether an employee’s participation in a horseback riding event organized and planned by a co-employee was within the scope of the employee’s employment. See id.

workers compensation
TOTAL VOCATIONAL DISABILITY IS NOT AN EXCEPTION FOR AWARDING BENEFITS OUTSIDE THE SCHEDULE

In Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Bush, the Alabama Civil Appeals Court held that the trial court erred in concluding that the employee was permanently and totally disabled under the Act, Ala. Code § 25-5-57(a)(4)(d), because it used the vocational disability of the employee as the basis for the compensation award without first deciding that an exception to the schedule applied.” 2014 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 153 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 22, 2014).

workers compensation
THE EFFECT OF PREEXISTING CONDITIONS ON MEDICAL CAUSATION

On April 4, 2014, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals issued an opinion on the effect of an employee’s preexisting condition and its impact on the issue of medical causation.  See Madison Academy, Inc. v. Hanvey, 2014 WL 1328334 (Ala. Civ. App. 2014).

workers compensation
MEDICAL CAUSATION IN THE CONTEXT OF AN ALLEGED ALTERED GAIT INJURY

In Dubose Construction v. Simmons, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals revisited an employee’s burden for obtaining compensation outside the schedule based on a seemingly routine knee injury. 2013 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 239 (Ala. Civ. App. Dec. 20, 2013). The employee, James Simmons, injured his knee in a workplace fall. Medical examinations revealed a torn medial meniscus which was arthroscopically repaired.

workers compensation
COURT AFFIRMS AWARD OF SUBROGATION OF UM UIM BENEFITS BUT DOES NOT CHANGE LONGSTANDING RULE

In Roblero v. Cox Pool of the Southeast, 2013 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 137 (Ala. Civ. App. June 21, 2013) the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals affirmed a trial court’s finding that an employer was entitled to subrogation of UIM/UM benefits paid to an injured worker.

workers compensation
WHETHER THE UNSAFE USE OF A SAFETY DEVICE IS SUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A CO EMPLOYEE LIABILITY CLAIM BASED ON THE ALLEGED REMOVAL OF A SAFETY DEVICE

In Bates v. Riley, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals examined whether the unsafe use of a safety device was sufficient to support a co-employee liability claim based on the alleged willful or intentional removal of a safety device. 2013 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 32 (Ala. Civ. App. Feb. 1, 2013).

workers compensation
CONSIDERATIONS IN DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT A PLAINTIFF IS PERMANENT AND TOTALLY DISABLED
Any physical injury or mental impairment resulting from an accident, which injury or impairment permanently and totally incapacitates the employee from working at and being retrained for gainful employment, shall constitute prima facie evidence of permanent total disability but shall not constitute the sole basis on which an award of permanent total disability may be based.
workers compensation
LIMITATIONS ON EXCEPTIONS TO THE COMING AND GOING RULE

In McDuffie v. Medical Center Enterprise, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently declined an opportunity to expand an exception to the “coming and going” rule when it examined the case of a nursing student injured on hospital grounds after her regular shift was over. 2012 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 249 (Ala. Civ. App. Sept. 14, 2012).

workers compensation
RECENT CASE CLARIFIES THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION “DEBILITATING PAIN” EXCEPTION
On August 10, 2012, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an opinion in Gold Kist v. Smith, 2012 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 220, clarifying the “debilitating pain” exception. In Gold Kist, the plaintiff suffered a severe ankle injury which arose in the line and scope of her employment. Following surgery and a period of recovery, the plaintiff returned to work and continued to work for more than one year.
workers compensation
STRATEGY FOR DEFENDING A CLAIM FOR UNSCHEDULED BENEFITS UNDER THE GRABEN PAIN EXCEPTION
Under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, injuries are divided between injuries compensated according to the schedule of benefits contained in Ala. Code § 25-57(a)(3) and injuries compensated outside of the schedule. Typically, compensation for scheduled injuries is less than compensation awarded outside of the schedule.
workers compensation
EXPANDING THE “TRAVELING EMPLOYEE” EXCEPTION TO THE COMING AND GOING RULE
In McDaniel v. Helmerich & Payne Int’l Drilling Co., the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, in a case of first impression, vastly expanded the category of employees meeting the definition of “traveling employees” for the purposes of Alabama’s workers’ compensation law.
workers compensation
HANDLING TORNADO BASED WORKER’S COMPENSATION CLAIM
On April 27, 2011, a series of destructive tornados tore through the state of Alabama, killing hundreds and injuring hundreds more. Although legal concerns are not at the top of anyone’s mind in this time of tragedy, workers’ compensation adjusters and attorneys might soon be faced with workers’ compensation claims for injuries or deaths which occurred during the tornado outbreak.
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