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Total Fire Prot., Inc. v. Jean

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

August 22, 2014

Total Fire Protection, Inc.
v.
Jonathan Jean

Released for Publication April 13, 2015.

Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court, Bessemer Division. (CV-05-1272). Annetta H. Verin, Trial Judge.

For Appellant: Jonathan L. Berryhill and James E. Mitchell, Jr., of Wilson & Berryhill, P.C., Birmingham.

MOORE, Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 796

MOORE, Judge.

Total Fire Protection, Inc. (" TFP" or " the employer" ), appeals from a judgment entered by the Bessemer Division of the Jefferson Circuit Court (" the trial court" ) denying TFP's motion to terminate the medical benefits being paid to Jonathan Jean, a former employee (" the employee" ) of the employer, under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act (" the Act" ), § 25-5-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975. We affirm.

Background

On April 22, 2005, while working for TFP, the employee fractured both wrists and his jaw in a fall arising out of and in the course of his employment. Dr. Jeffrey Davis, the employee's authorized surgeon, performed surgery on both wrists, placing

Page 797

hardware in the right wrist. Five months later, on September 29, 2005, the trial court approved a settlement under which the employee received a lump-sum amount of compensation with " [m]edical benefits to remain open according to law."

On June 26, 2006, TFP served the employee, via United States mail, with a copy of a " Motion to Terminate Medical Benefits." In that motion, TFP asserted that the employee had obtained other employment; that, on June 5, 2006, while working for his other employer, the employee had sought medical treatment from Dr. Davis for right-wrist pain; that Dr. Davis had diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome and had attributed its onset to the employee's current employment; and that the employer should no longer be responsible for future treatment with regard to the right-wrist injury based on the " last-injurious-exposure rule." See North River Ins. Co. v. Purser, 608 So.2d 1379, 1382 (Ala.Civ.App. 1992). TFP filed the motion with the trial court on June 28, 2006. On June 29, 2006, the trial court granted TFP's motion to terminate the employee's medical benefits.

On April 29, 2008, some 22 months after the trial court had entered the order granting TFP's motion to terminate the employee's medical benefits, the employee moved the trial court for relief, pursuant to Rule 60(a) or 60(b)(4), (5) & (6), Ala. R. Civ. P., from the June 29, 2006, order. On May 1, 2008, the trial court granted the employee's motion for relief from the June 29, 2006, order without indicating the basis for its ruling. The trial court then scheduled a hearing on TFP's motion to terminate medical benefits.

On May 12, 2008, the trial court entered an order, stating that " [t]he medical benefits are reinstated to allow for removal of the hardware and the treating physician shall inform this court of the cause or likely cause of the carpal tunnel syndrome." On May 14, 2008, TFP moved the trial court to alter, amend, or vacate its May 12, 2008, order. After a hearing, the trial court denied TFP's motion and entered a new judgment dated June 16, 2008, stating that " [t]he medical benefits are reinstated to allow for the removal of the hardware and any problems that are related to the injury on April 22, 2005 while the ...


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