Alabama Supreme Court Upholds Alabama Court of Civil Appeals's Decision in Ex parte Cascaden Pertaining to Misrepresentation Defense
On October 7, 2011, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals’ decision in Ex parte Scott A. Cascaden (see August 5, 2011 blog article). The Supreme Court denied Cascaden’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari, with no opinion. This ruling confirmed that an employer is not required to prove that it relied upon an employee’s written misrepresentation as to his physical condition in order to prevail on the misrepresentation defense defined in § 25-5-51 of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. Instead, the employer only has the burden of showing that (1) at the time of or in the course of entering into employment or at the time of receiving notice of the removal of conditions from a conditional offer of employment, the employee knowingly and falsely misrepresents, in writing, his physical or mental condition; (2) the condition is later aggravated or reinjured in an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment; and (3) the employer provided the employee with the following written warning in bold type print, "Misrepresentations as to preexisting physical or mental conditions may void your workers' compensation benefits." However, it is important to point out that this defense does not relieve the employer of its liability to provide reasonably necessary medical treatment for an otherwise compensable accident, because the misrepresentation defense only applies to "compensation", which encompasses indemnity and vocational retraining benefits.