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Ex parte Logistics

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

November 7, 2014

Ex parte Dalton Logistics;
v.
Dalton Logistics) (In re: Ernest Harold Presley

Released for Publication July 22, 2015.

(Choctaw Circuit Court, CV-13-900016). C. Robert Montgomery, Trial Judge.

For Petitioner: Anthony N. Fox, Scott, Sullivan, Streetman & Fox, P.C., Birmingham.

For Respondent: Frederick P. Gilmore, Gilmore Law Firm, Mobile; William W. Watts III, Pipes, Hudson & Watts, LLP, Mobile.

PITTMAN, Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Thomas, Moore, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 338

PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

PITTMAN, Judge.

Dalton Logistics (" the employer" ) petitions for a writ of mandamus directing the Choctaw Circuit Court to grant the employer's motion seeking a summary judgment in a civil action brought against it by Ernest Harold Presley (" the employee" ) pursuant to the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act, Ala. Code 1975, § 25-5-1 et seq. (" the Act" ). The employer asserts in that petition that the Act does not apply to the employee's claim, which stems from an injury sustained by the employee at a work site in North Dakota, and that the trial court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Because we agree with the employer that the Act does not afford a remedy to the employee and that the trial court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the employee's claim, we grant the petition and issue the writ.

The pertinent facts are largely undisputed. The employee testified at his deposition that his brother-in-law, John Waltman, had become aware that the employer had work openings in North Dakota and had contacted the employer to confirm that the employee could perform work for the employer there. The employee then contacted the secretary for the employer's president, and the secretary sent " paperwork" to the employee's Alabama residence via facsimile transmission for the employee to complete to finalize the employment arrangement. The employee testified that he had then completed that

Page 339

paperwork and had thereafter sent that paperwork via facsimile transmission to the secretary (who was in Texas); he added that the secretary had then arranged for the employee to pick up a prepaid airplane ticket in Meridian, Mississippi, by which he would be able to fly to North Dakota to report to work. The employee testified that he had been picked up at an airport in Minot, North Dakota, by representatives of the employer and had been billeted in a " man camp" in that state consisting of a number of house trailers and a common dining area. From the " man camp," the employee traveled to and from job sites between 20 and 150 miles away and performed work for the employer moving oil-drilling equipment among locations, typically working for 20 straight days in North Dakota and spending the following 10 days in Alabama after having flown home at the employer's expense via commercial airlines.

According to the employee's deposition testimony, it was in the vicinity of Ray, North Dakota, approximately 40 miles from the " man camp," that he sustained an injury in August 2012 when his back struck a mud pump, and it is that alleged injury that, the employee claimed in his March 2013 complaint, warranted an award of benefits under the Act. In March 2014, the employer filed a motion for a summary judgment asserting that the Act did not provide a legal remedy to the employee; the employer relied upon the employee's complaint and the transcript of his deposition. The employee filed a response in opposition to the employer's motion, supported by his transcribed deposition testimony and an affidavit that he had filed in response to a prior motion to dismiss.[1] The trial court entered an order on June 20, 2014, denying the employer's summary-judgment motion, and the employer filed its mandamus petition in this court on August 1, 2014, within the presumptively reasonable time for seeking review of the trial court's order under Rule 21(a), Ala. R. App. P. Further, as we noted in Ex parte Southern Erectors, Inc., [Ms. 2130164, February 21, 2014], 161 So.3d 1224, 1226 (Ala.Civ.App. 2014), this court may properly review, by means of a mandamus petition, claims of trial-court error in denying a motion for a summary judgment grounded on the contention that that court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate a claim for benefits under the Act involving an extraterritorial-workplace injury.

The principal substantive question raised by the petition and answer is whether the Act applies to the employee's claimed workplace injury. It is undisputed that the injury alleged by the ...


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