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The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently released an opinion dealing with venue statutes and their applicability to claims sought under the Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act. In the case ofEx parte Associated General Contractors Workers' Compensation Self-Insurers Fund, Alabama Branch, and Good Hope Contracting, Inc. (In re:Associated General Contractors Workers' Compensation Self-Insurers Fund, Alabama Branch v. Lynn Harding), the Court held that the §6-3-7, Ala.Code 1975, was the proper statute to govern venue for worker’s compensation lawsuits, regardless of the initial filer.
Associated General Contractors Workers' Compensation Self-Insurers Fund, Alabama Branch ("AGC") filed a lawsuit against Lynn Harding ("Harding"), seeking a declaratory judgment under the Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act.
Harding filed a Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue, or in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue, relying on the venue statute governing actions filed against an individual, §6-3-2, Ala.Code 1975. Plaintiffs responded to Harding’s motion, relying on the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act and §6-3-7, Ala.Code 1975, the venue statute that governs where a corporation can be sued. The trial court granted Harding’s motion, and ordered that the case be transferred. Plaintiffs filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus seeking relief from the Order.
The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals granted the petition. The rationale being that per the Worker’s Compensation Act, venue is proper if filed where a tort action would be properly filed. Case law provides that venue is proper where an employee’s grievance against his employer would be heard. Ex parte Adams. The proper venue statute to govern where an individual can sue his employer is §6-3-7, Ala.Code 1975.
In sum, regardless of who files the initial Complaint in an Alabama Worker’s Compensation lawsuit, venue is proper where an employee can properly maintain an action against the employer.
This blog submission was prepared by Karen Cleveland, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Cleveland by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her directly at 205-332-1599.