Alabama Judge Addresses Link Between Manual Labor and Cumulative Trauma Injuries
On February 8, 2013, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released its opinion in Ex Parte Johns & Kirksey, Inc. wherein it denied an employer’s petition for a writ of mandamus. In its petition, the employer had sought relief from an interlocutory order finding that alleged cumulative trauma back and leg injuries were compensable.
At trial, the employee presented evidence that he sustained a work related back injury and underwent surgery in November 1996. The employee returned to work, performing at full-duty after his recovery. In 2008, the employee began to have trouble with his back and right leg and claimed the new problems were the result of repetitive manual labor resulting in a cumulative-trauma injury. In particular, the employee presented evidence that he spent 60% to 80% of his time at work performing manual labor such as heavy lifting and installing roofs which required repetitive bending, stooping, squatting and kneeling. Additionally, a physician stated that the employee’s job duties were at least a contributing cause of his injuries.
The employer offered testimony that the employee only spent 50% of his time performing manual labor, with half of that falling in the light or medium-duty range.
In denying the employer’s petition, the Court of Appeals noted that the evidence presented at trial supported a finding that the employee proved both medical and legal causation by clear and convincing evidence. As such, the employer could not establish a clear legal right to the relief sought.
About the Author
This blog post was written by Trey Cotney, Esq. of Fish Nelson LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing employers, self-insured employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation matters. Fish Nelson is a member of The National Workers’ Compensation Network (NWCDN). If you have any questions about this article or Alabama workers’ compensation issues in general, please feel free to contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or any firm member at 205-332-3430.