Alabama Employer’s Attempt at Dismissal Based on Exclusivity Provision Fails Due to Unresolved Issues of Fact Regarding Physical Attack on Employee
Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act has an exclusivity provision that shields employers from tort claims resulting from injuries, or death, caused by an accident or occupational disease that is related to workers’ employment. This is a fundamental principle of the Act, which is premised on employers’ accepting a duty to provide certain benefits and coverage to employees in exchange for employees being barred from asserting tort claims, like negligence or wantonness.
On February 28, 2020, the Supreme Court of Alabama released its decision in the case ofEx parte Drury Hotels Company, LLC, Montgomery Circuit Court, CV-18-902336, in which the Court confirmed the burden of proof an employer must meet to prevail on a Motion to Dismiss that asserts the employee cannot prevail on a tort claim because the injury alleged is covered by the exclusivity provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Court held that for an employer to prevail, the defense must be clear from the face of the Complaint.
Here, the Court determined that, based on the Complaint, a determination could not be made on whether the injuries alleged were related to the employment, or instead were the result of a personal attack, and that additional fact-based inquiry was needed. Because injuries determined to be the result of a personal attack are not covered by Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act, the Court was not able to confirm that the exclusivity provision applied.
About the Author
This blog submission was prepared by Karen Cleveland, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Cleveland by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her directly at 205-332-1599.