Alabama Jury Finds Supervisor Did Not Commit Willful Act Resulting in Employee’s Injury
On December 29, 2014 we reported on an opinion handed down by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Flexicrew Staffing, Inc. v Champion. In that case, the Court of Civil Appeals agreed that the employee’s injury was compensable and the case went back to the trial court level for disability determination. Following the case being sent back to trial court, the employee amended his Complaint and named his supervisor as a defendant. After the appellate decision, Flexicrew ultimately settled the worker’s compensation case with the employee and the case went to trial on the claims against the employee’s supervisor.
The employee’s action against his supervisor was brought under §25-5-11(c)(2) based a willful failure to maintain, repair and/or replace the safety handle on the grinder. The employee further alleged that the supervisor was negligent and wanton in his actions when instructing the employee to drive himself to the clinic 30 miles away, which was in violation of the policies and procedures put in place by Flexicrew, the employer, which required that injured employees be transported and/or accompanied to a medical clinic or facility whenever possible. The employee did not specifically state which section of the act the negligence and wantonness claims fell under but willful and intentional violation of specific written safety rules of an employer would fall under §25-5-11(c)(4). The cause of action against the supervisor would fall under §25-5-11(b) which allows an employee to file suit outside of the worker’s compensation act against an officer, director, agent or employee of an employer when the officer, director, agent or employee commits willful conduct that results in the employee’s injury or death.
During the trial against his supervisor, the employee asserted that his supervisor had instructed him to drive himself to a distant medical facility in
spite of his injured leg. He also made a claim that the side handle of the grinder that he was using when he cut his leg was missing causing it to
be unstable and unsafe. The supervisor defended and argued that the employee’s cut was superficial and it was the supervisor’s position that the employee
had simply run a red light. The supervisor further disputed whether or not the missing side handle of the grinder was significant in causing the employee’s
leg injury. After a four day trial in Baldwin County, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the supervisor and the employee’s motion for
a new trial was ultimately denied.
About the Author
The article was written by Joshua G. Holden, Esq. a Member of Fish, Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing employers, self-insured employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation and related liability matters. Mr. Holden is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating an attorney can receive. Holden and his firm are members of The National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network (NWCDN). The NWCDN is a national and Canadian network of reputable law firms organized to provide employers and insurers access to the highest quality representation in workers’ compensation and related employer liability fields.