from Baldwin Circuit Court (CV-98-304)
Bank appeals from a judgment entered by the Baldwin Circuit
Court ("the trial court") denying Regions'
motion for termination of medical benefits previously ordered
to be paid, pursuant to Alabama's Workers'
Compensation Act, § 25-5-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975, on
behalf of Kathleen Allen.
August 6, 1998, the trial court entered a judgment approving
a settlement of a workers' compensation action filed by
Allen against Regions. In its judgment approving the
settlement, the trial court concluded, among other things,
that, on April 3, 1996, Allen had "sustained an
on-the-job injury at Regions, while in the course of
employment a chair in which she was sitting broke, causing
[Allen] to fall to the floor, striking her right buttock and
hip region." The trial court awarded Allen a lump-sum
payment of $3, 359.88 in workers' compensation disability
benefits and ordered that Regions would "remain
responsible for payment of any reasonably necessary future
medical benefits with respect to said accident and
8, 2017, Regions filed a motion requesting a termination of
its responsibility to pay medical benefits related to medical
treatment Allen was seeking for her back. Regions alleged
that, during its recent review of Allen's request for the
payment of medical benefits, Allen's treating physician
had responded to an inquiry from Regions regarding whether
Allen's current treatment was related to her 1996 injury
by indicating that Allen's current treatment was a result
of the normal aging process and wear and tear as opposed to
being related to her 1996 injury.
18, 2017, the trial court held a hearing on Regions'
motion; there is no transcript of that hearing in the record
on appeal, and there also is no indication that ore tenus
testimony was presented at that hearing. Indeed, Regions
indicates that it made arguments and "referenced and
argued" certain exhibits during those arguments. That
same day, the trial court entered a judgment stating:
"Motion for Termination of Medical Benefits filed by
Regions Bank is hereby DENIED."
July 18, 2017, Regions moved to supplement the record to
include the exhibits referenced and argued at the hearing on
its motion to terminate Allen's medical benefits; it
attached the exhibits to its motion to supplement. The trial
court did not rule on that motion. On August 23, 2017,
Regions filed its notice of appeal.
appeal, Regions argues that the trial court's judgment
should be reversed because Allen's current medical
treatment is unrelated to her April 3, 1996, injury and
because she failed to establish a compensable injury. We
initially note, however, that the trial court's judgment
does not include findings of fact or conclusions of law.
supreme court has held: "The procedure in disputed
claims arising under the [Workers'] Compensation Act[,
§ 25-5-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975, ] is set out in §
25-5-88, Code of Alabama 1975, and must be complied
with." Ex parte Curry, 607 So.2d 230, 231 (Ala.
"Section 25-5-88[, Ala. Code 1975, ] requires a trial
court to make findings of fact and conclusions of law in
workers' compensation judgments. Alabama law requires
only substantial compliance with § 25-5-88, and meager
or omissive findings of fact or conclusions of law do not
necessarily require a reversal of a workers' compensation
judgment. See Ex parte Curry, 607 So.2d 230, 232
(Ala. 1992); Calvert v. Funderburg, 284 Ala. 311,
224 So.2d 664 (1969) (construing the predecessor statute to
§ 25-5-88). A trial court, however, must make findings
of fact and state conclusions of law that are responsive to
the issues presented at trial. Equipment Sales Corp. v.
Gwin, 4 So.3d 1125, 1129-30 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008).
"'"The purpose of Ala. Code 1975, §
25-5-88, is to 'ensure sufficiently detailed findings so
that the appellate court can determine whether the judgment
is supported by the facts.'" Farris v. St.
Vincent's Hosp., 624 So.2d 183, 185 (Ala. Civ. App.
1993) (quoting Elbert Greeson Hosiery Mills, Inc. v.
Ivey, 472 So.2d 1049, 1052 (Ala. Civ. App. 1985)).
"[T]he trial court has a duty to make a finding on
each issue presented and litigated before it. In instances
where the trial court fails to make a finding responsive to
the issue presented, the case must be reversed."
Thomas v. Gold Kist, Inc., 628 So.2d 864, 867 (Ala.
Civ. App. 1993); see also Harbin v. United States Steel
Corp., 356 So.2d 179 (Ala. Civ. App. 1978); and Dun
& Bradstreet Corp. v. Jones, 678 So.2d 181 (Ala.
Civ. App. 1996). In Harbin v. United States Steel
Corp., this court reversed the trial court's
judgment and remanded the case because the trial court had
failed to address or to make findings regarding the issue of
notice of injury to the employer, despite the issue being
presented and litigated.'"
Weaver v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 106 So.3d 417,
419-20 (Ala. Civ. App. 2012) (quoting Equipment Sales
Corp. v. Gwin, 4 So.3d 1125, 1129-30 (Ala. Civ. App.
2008)); see also Johnson v. Lowe's Home
Ctr., Inc., 59 So.3d 698, 700 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010)
(reversing a workers' compensation judgment when the
"trial court failed to include findings of fact
responsive to the issues presented, as required by §
present case, the trial court's judgment contains no
findings of fact or conclusions of law related to the issues
pending before this court. We therefore reverse the trial
court's judgment, and remand the cause for the trial
court to enter findings of fact and conclusions of law in
compliance with § 25-5-88. Weaver, 106 So.2d at
REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS. Thompson, P.J., and