from Etowah Circuit Court. (CV-12-900017).
Presiding Judge. Pittman, Thomas, Moore, and Donaldson, JJ.,
THOMPSON, Presiding Judge.
Entrekin, in his official capacity as sheriff of Etowah
County (" the sheriff" ), appeals from a judgment
of the Etowah Circuit Court (" the trial court" )
granting Jerry Frederic Lasseter's motion to compel
payment of medical expenses pursuant to a workers'
compensation settlement agreement (" the agreement"
) entered into by the parties.
January 16, 2012, Lasseter filed in the trial court a
complaint alleging that on July 20, 2010, he had
been injured in a motor-vehicle accident (" the 2010
accident" ) that occurred during the course of his
employment as an Etowah County sheriff's deputy. The
parties, stipulating that they were subject to the Alabama
Workers' Compensation Act, § 25-5-1 et seq., Ala.
Code 1975, entered into the agreement on November 12, 2013.
The agreement stated that Lasseter alleged that the 2010
accident had " resulted in an injury to his spine,
specifically at levels T-11 and T-8," indicating an
injury to his thoracic spine. The agreement also stated that
the parties had agreed to a lump-sum settlement in the amount
of $22,500 as full compensation for the alleged injury and
that payment of the lump sum released the sheriff from all
liability for past, present, and future compensation benefits
regarding the alleged injury. However, the
agreement also provided that the sheriff would remain liable
for Lasseter's future medical expenses associated with
the alleged injury. The trial court approved the agreement
and adopted it as its judgment on November 12, 2013.
3, 2014, Lasseter filed in the trial court a " motion to
compel medical treatment." Lasseter attached to that
motion a letter from Meadowbrook Insurance Group ("
MIG" ), the third-party administrator of the Etowah
County Commission's workers' compensation fund, which
was responsible for meeting the sheriff's obligations as
to medical expenses under the agreement, to Dr. Michelle
Turnley, Lasseter's treating physician. That letter
informed Dr. Turnley that, in the future, MIG would cover
treatment for Lasseter only at the T-8 and T-11 levels of his
thoracic spine. According to Lasseter's motion, Dr.
Turnley had issued orders prescribing epidural injections to
Lasseter's lumbar spine, and MIG had sent Dr. Turnley the
letter in response to those orders. It is undisputed that MIG
had covered epidural injections to Lasseter's lumbar
spine before the parties entered into the agreement.
sheriff filed in the trial court a response to Lasseter's
motion. Although the sheriff conceded that, pursuant to the
agreement, he was liable for medical expenses associated with
treatment to Lasseter's thoracic spine at the T-8 and
T-11 levels, he argued that he was not liable for medical
expenses associated with treatment to Lasseter's lumbar
spine because there had been no determination of
compensability for any injury to the lumbar spine and because
the agreement explicitly limited coverage for future medical
expenses to those associated with treatment of the thoracic
October 3, 2014, the trial court held a hearing on
Lasseter's motion to compel at which it heard arguments
of the parties' attorneys but received no testimony or
other evidence. Lasseter's attorney argued that, since
the 2010 accident, Lasseter had received " multiple
series" of epidural injections to his lumbar spine that
MIG had covered but was no longer willing to cover after the
parties entered into the agreement. Lasseter's attorney
further argued that, because MIG had covered treatment to
Lasseter's lumbar spine before the parties entered into
the agreement, Lasseter would not have entered into a
settlement agreement that would prohibit his ability to
recover medical expenses for that treatment. On the other
hand, the sheriff's attorney argued that the plain
language of the agreement explicitly limited coverage for
medical expenses to those expenses associated with treatment
provided to the T-8 and T-11 levels of Lasseter's
thoracic spine. At the close of the hearing, the trial court
asked the parties to brief the issues. On October 15, 2014,
the trial court entered a judgment granting Lasseter's
motion to compel and ordering the sheriff to provide for the
" treatment of epidural injections to [Lasseter's]
lumbar spine." The sheriff timely appealed.
appeal, the sheriff argues that the trial court erred
because, he says, it expanded the scope of the agreement by
requiring him to cover medical expenses for epidural
injections to Lasseter's lumbar spine. The sheriff
argues, as he did in the trial court, that the agreement
expressly limits his liability for Lasseter's future
medical expenses to those expenses associated with the injury
referenced in the agreement, i.e., expenses incurred for
treatment of the thoracic spine at the T-8 and T-11 levels.
Because the trial court received no ore tenus evidence before
entering its ...