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On July 30, 2021, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an opinion in Kevin Patrick v. Mako Lawn Care, Inc. wherein it addressed the compensability of an assault by a co-employee. The altercation was the result of a feud between two lawn care crews. The member of one crew took the other crew’s mower home for personal use. To retaliate, a member of the other crew did the same thing. After that, words were exchanged. The situation escalated into a physical fight resulting in injury. The trial judge entered judgment for the employer because the altercation did not arise out of the employment, the employer did not benefit from the altercation, and that the plaintiff was an active participant and the aggressor. The Court of Appeals agreed that the law was correctly applied to the facts but that it did not necessarily agree with all the language and reasoning in the trial court’s final order.
My Two Cents:
In his appellate brief, the plaintiff argued that the trial court’s reliance on a 1927 decision as controlling was misplaced because there were more recent decisions with a more liberal view on work altercations. The Court of Appeals, however, noted that the 1927 case was still controlling and the plaintiff would have to petition the Alabama Supreme Court to overrule the older case. Ultimately, the plaintiff elected not to do that and risk creating bad law (well… bad for the plaintiff’s bar anyway).
About the Author
Mike Fish, 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 the sole Alabama member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Fish by e-mailing him at email@example.com or by calling him directly at 205-332-1448.