Ex parte Trusswalk, Inc.
Trusswalk, Inc. In re: Chesley Shawn Price
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS MARSHALL CIRCUIT COURT,
Inc. ("the employer"), petitions this court for a
writ of mandamus directing the Marshall Circuit Court to
vacate its order requiring the employer to refer Chesley
Shawn Price ("the employee") to a pain-management
specialist for medical treatment. We grant the petition and
issue the writ.
February 16, 2018, the employee commenced in the circuit
court a civil action against the employer; the employee
alleged that he had suffered a lower-back injury in a
work-related accident on November 7, 2016, and he sought
benefits for that injury under the Alabama Workers'
Compensation Act ("the Act"), Ala. Code 1975,
§ 25-5-1 et seq. On September 18, 2018, the employee
filed a "motion to compel medical treatment" in
which he asserted, among other things, that he was suffering
from "chronic debilitating pain" in his lower back
as a result of the work-related injury, that his authorized
treating physician was not treating that pain, and that he
had requested and been denied a referral to "pain
management." The employee moved the circuit court to
order the employer to provide "appropriate medical
treatment" for his condition. The employer responded
that the motion should be denied because, it asserted, the
employee's authorized treating physician who was
responsible for directing the course of the employee's
medical treatment had not referred the employee for pain
circuit court held a hearing on the motion at which it
received medical records and heard oral arguments of
counsel. On December 6, 2018, the circuit court
entered an order in which it found that the employee was in
"chronic moderate severe to severe pain" "due
to and on account of his medical condition from the
work-related accident and injury" of November 7, 2016,
and that the employee "is not receiving necessary
treatment for his chronic pain." The circuit court
ordered the employer to "immediately refer [the
employee] to a [p]ain [m]anagement [s]pecialist for treatment
of his chronic pain condition ...." The employer filed
its petition for a writ of mandamus in this court on December
27, 2018. This court heard oral argument on the petition on
February 20, 2019.
petition, the employer framed the issue for review as
follows: "Whether the [circuit court] abused its
discretion by directing [the employer] to provide medical
treatment which has never been recommended by an authorized
physician." In its brief to this court and at oral
argument, the employer argued that the real issue concerned
the authority of the circuit court to direct a referral for
pain-management treatment despite the absence of any medical
opinion that such treatment is reasonably necessary. In his
brief to this court and at oral argument, the employee
engaged on this issue, so we consider the petition in this
the Act provides that a judgment entered by a circuit court
as to any controversy over medical benefits shall be subject
to appeal, see Ala. Code 1975, §§
25-5-81(a)(1) and 25-5-88, a majority of this court has held
that an order resolving a claim for medical benefits, but not
awarding any compensation or otherwise resolving the entire
workers' compensation claim, is an interlocutory order
reviewable only by a petition for a writ of mandamus. See
Ex parte Cowanbunga, Inc., 67 So.3d 136 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2011).
"Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy. An appellate court
will grant a petition for a writ of mandamus only when
'(1) the petitioner has a clear legal right to the relief
sought; (2) the respondent has an imperative duty to perform
and has refused to do so; (3) the petitioner has no other
adequate remedy; and (4) this Court's jurisdiction is
properly invoked.' Ex parte Flint Constr. Co.,
775 So.2d 805, 808 (Ala. 2000) (citing Ex parte Mercury
Fin. Corp., 715 So.2d 196, 198 (Ala. 1997))."
Ex parte Amerigas, 855 So.2d 544, 546 (Ala. Civ.
25-5-77(a), Ala. Code 1975, a part of the Act, provides, in
pertinent part, that an employer "shall pay [for] ...
reasonably necessary medical ... treatment and attention, ...
as may be obtained by the ...