TRIAL COURT'S FINDING OF OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE IS REVERSED
Greater Mobile Chrysler-Jeep, Inc. v. Charles Atterberry:
In this opinion released on December 19, 2008, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals considered an employee’s claim of occupational disease. At trial, the employee presented evidence that his interstitial lung disease and adult respiratory distress syndrome was caused by exposure to chemicals at work. the trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff on the limited issue of compensability. The plaintiff had not yet reached MMI and so the issue of disability remained open. Although the employer initially filed a petition for writ of mandamus, it was converted and treated as a timely appeal. In reversing the trial court’s finding of compensability, the Court of Civil Appeals held that the employee failed to identify the necessary causal link between his condition and the chemical exposure for his condition to be considered an occupational disease. The Court further held that the plaintiff failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he suffered a non-accidental injury because he could not prove that he was exposed to chemicals materially in excess of what ordinary people are exposed to in their everyday lives.