“Sparse” Workers’ Compensation Order Prevents Mandamus Review

The trial court decided that a nursing-home employee was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The court’s order “did not contain detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law,” as required by Ala. Code § 25-5-88. This “sparse” order prevented appellate review. The Court of Civil Appeals denied the employer’s mandamus petition and ordered the trial court to enter an order complying with § 25-5-88. El Reposo Nursing Home Group, Inc., No. 2100113 (Ala. Civ. App. Mar. 25, 2011).

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Mandamus Treated As Appeal of Final Workers’ Compensation Judgment — Court Notes “Tension” In Precedent And Follows “Emerging” Rule

The Court of Civil Appeals treated a mandamus petition as an appeal from a “final judgment” in this workers’ compensation suit. The court recognized that this “emerging” practice of treating certain workers’ compensation decisions as final and appealable is “in tension” with some existing precedent. Ultimately, the appellate court reversed the lower court for failing to include findings of fact and conclusions of law in its decision. Belcher-Robinson Foundry, LLC v. Narr, No. 2080928 (Ala. Civ. App. Jan. 29, 2010).

The trial court entered a decision ruling that the plaintiff employee had been injured on the job, that he was temporarily totally disabled, and that his employer was consequently responsible for medical payments under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. Within the time allowed for filing an appeal, the employer challenged this decision by petitioning the Court of Civil Appeals for a writ of mandamus.

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Non-Resident Aliens Not Entitled to Recovery of Death Benefits Under Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act

In Duran v. Goff Group, [Ms. 2070763] (Ala. Civ App. Feb 6, 2009), the Court of Civil Appeals held that non-resident aliens are not entitled to the death benefits as a result of the death of a worker.  The statute specifically provides that "Compensation for the death of an employee shall be paid only to dependants who, at the time of the death of the injured employee, were actually residents of the United States."  Ala. Code 25-5-82.  The cirucit court and the court of civil appeals rejected consitutional challenges to this provision and enforced the terms of the statute.

For an article on this interesting opinion, click the link to "Ala. court: No money for Mexican worker’s family" from the AP, via al.com
 

 

Setting Aside of Default Judgment Affirmed

In Moore v. Welch, [Ms. 2070709] (Ala. Civ. App. Feb. 6, 2009), an employee sued his co-employees for willfulness resulting in an on the job injury after he was seriously burned when two fire extinguishers malfunctioned and the flames could not be put out.  The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court’s setting aside of a default judgment which was entered.  The opinion presents a good discussion of the requirements of Rule 55(c) and the Kirtland factors the courts are to consider in deciding Rule 55(c) motions to set aside defaults.

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Employer Fails to Show Good Cause for Late Petition, Appeals From Non-Final Order

The Court of Civil Appeals rejected an employer’s bid to reverse a workers’ compensation award in two consolidated proceedings. The employer’s petition for mandamus was denied as late — the employer having not shown “good cause” for its delay in filing the petition. The employer’s appeal was dismissed as being from a non-final judgment. Ex parte C & D Logging, Nos. 2070159, 2070198 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 29, 2008).

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Claim for double-compensation penalty in workers’ compensation is not subject to Rule 59

The Supreme Court answered the question of first impression of whether a claim for the double- compensation penalty of Ala. Code 25-5-8(e) is subject to the time restrictions of Rule 59.  The Court held that, because it is a penalty distinct from the underlying judgment,  it is not.  Therefore, a request for the double-compensation penalty made more than 30 days after the entry of judgment is timely.  Ex parte Ruggs, [Ms. 1061379] (Ala. Aug. 22, 2008).

Payment of workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to foreign state’s statute does not toll time to bring Alabama workers’ compensation claim

In Ex parte Morris, Ms. 1070384 (Ala. June 20, 2008) , in a question of first impression, the Alabama Supreme Court held that the payment of benefits pursuant to another states workers’ compensation statute does not toll the time to bring an Alabama workers’ compensation claim.  Under the terms of Alabama’s statute, only payments under Alabama’s workers’ compensation statute tolls the time to bring a clain in Alabama.  Thus, the plaintiff’s claim in this case was untimely and was dismissed.  The Court recognized that this rule can lead to harsh results, so it noted that equitable tolling may be available in some cases.