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03/17/95 JOAN L. NAGEM v. RUSSELL COUNTY

March 17, 1995

JOAN L. NAGEM
v.
RUSSELL COUNTY, ALABAMA, ET AL.



Appeal from Russell Circuit Court. (CV-93-40).

Richard L. Holmes, Retired Appellate Judge. All the Judges concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Holmes

HOLMES, Retired Appellate Judge

This is a workmen's compensation case.

Joan L. Nagem (employee) filed a complaint against Russell County, Alabama, and the members of its county commission (employer). In this complaint, the employee alleged that on May 19, 1992, while working in the Russell County tag office, she tripped over a box of metal vehicle tags and fell. She further alleged that she suffered injuries to her left hip and back as a result of the fall. The employee requested that the trial court issue a judgment against the employer for workmen's compensation benefits.

The employer filed an answer, wherein it alleged that the claim was barred because the employee failed to notify the employer of the claimed injury, as required by Ala. Code 1975, § 25-5-78.

A hearing was held and the trial court issued an order, wherein it found that the employee had not met her burden of establishing that she gave notice or that the employer received notice as required by § 25-5-78.

The employee appeals.

On appeal the employee contends that the trial court's determination that she failed to give notice of her claimed injury is not supported by "any reasonable evidence."

We note that there is a two-step standard of review in workmen's compensation cases. First, this court must determine whether there is any legal evidence to support the finding of the trial court. If this court determines that such evidence exists, then we must ascertain whether the judgment of the trial court is supported by any reasonable view of that evidence. Ex parte Eastwood Foods, Inc., 575 So. 2d 91 (Ala. 1991). In Ex parte Veazey, 637 So. 2d 1348, 1349 (Ala. 1993), our supreme court stated the following: "Where one reasonable view of the evidence supports the trial court's judgment, the judgment must be upheld, even if another, perhaps better reasoned, view of the evidence might have dictated a different outcome."

In order to reach a determination in a workmen's compensation case, the trial court may consider and interpret to its own best judgment all the evidence presented at the hearing, as well as its own observations of the witnesses. Armstrong v. Lewis & Associates Construction Co., 469 So. 2d 605 (Ala. Civ. App. 1984).

Our review of the record reveals the following pertinent facts: The employee was employed as the license commissioner at the Russell County tag office. On May 19, 1992, the employee tripped over a box of metal tags and fell onto her left side. The employee testified that Sha Foster, her assistant, said that she had advised Paulette Colbert of the employee's fall. Colbert was the payroll clerk for the Russell County Commission, and her duties included the completion of the employer's first report of injury form.

The employee also testified that she remembers talking to Mrs. Wilson, one of the county commissioners, regarding her fall. However, she did not relate the substance of the conversation, and she testified that the conversation took place when she started hurting so bad. The employee admitted that one did not report work-related injuries to the commissioners.

In addition, we would note that the employee had suffered three previous work-related injuries while employed by Russell County. Consequently, she should have been aware of the procedure to follow in ...


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