Smith v. Brett/Robinson Construction Company, Inc.
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
July 22, 2016
Plaintiff worked for defendant as a construction supervisor, and reported
an injury to her knee when she tripped and fell at work. Plaintiff’s
case was tried in the Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama, wherein
she claimed to have suffered a torn meniscus. Plaintiff’s accident
occurred in May, 2013. Approximately six weeks thereafter, plaintiff’s
Authorized Treating Physician performed an investigative arthroscopic
procedure to determine if there was a tear in her meniscus. Plaintiff’s
doctor determined that the meniscus was intact, but that there was the
presence of arthritis that appeared to be degenerative in nature.
Plaintiff requested a second opinion, and in October, 2013 plaintiff was
the subject of an MRI procedure that did reveal the possibility of a torn
meniscus, along with the previously identified arthritis. Plaintiff’s
second doctor opined that the arthritis existed prior to her workers’
compensation related injury, but that the injury potentially exacerbated
her arthritic condition.
Plaintiff’s co-workers testified that she appeared not to be suffering
any detrimental effects resulting from her knee prior to her injury, but
that she did appear to limp, and be in pain after her injury. One of plaintiff’s
co-workers also testified that, after her injury in May, 2013, but before
her second MRI, they witnessed plaintiff appear to have a second injury
to her knee while in the employee break room, whereby plaintiff reported
to have heard a “pop” and subsequent pain in her knee. Plaintiff
reported this injury to her second treating physician, but did not report
it as a work-related injury to her supervisors.
With regards to her initial injury, the trial court found that it did not
result in a torn meniscus. Plaintiff was assigned a 50% impairment to
her lower extremity, and plaintiff appealed the trial court’s judgment
that the presence of a torn meniscus was not connected to her work related
injury suffered in May, 2013.
The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling,
finding that it was supported by the substantial evidence of witness testimony,
medical records and the commentary of both of her treating physicians.
The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals cited ample case law supporting that
when a trial court’s findings are supported by substantial evidence,
the appellate courts will not re-try the facts. Judgment was affirmed.