Kennamer Brothers, Inc. v. Stewart
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
September 9, 2016
Stewart was employed by Kennamer Brothers as a truck driver and suffered
an injury to his shoulder in an auto accident that was found by the trial
court to be compensable under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act.
Kennamer Brothers appealed the determination that Stewart’s injury
was compensable, and the amount of retroactive Temporary Total Disability
benefits awarded to Stewart. Judgment was affirmed in part and remanded in part.
The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals found that the trial court’s ruling
was based on substantial evidence. Stewart did not report his shoulder
injury until 5 months after the date of his injury. Stewart suffered from
injuries to other parts of his body, and was taking prescribed pain medicine
for those other injuries.
Stewart consulted multiple physicians for his various injuries, and ultimately
had an MRI performed that revealed a shoulder tear. Stewart’s physician
testified that the tear was consistent with an accident such as Stewart’s,
and that although a shoulder tear is typically associated with immediate
complaints of pain, it is possible that the prescription pain medication
could have initially masked the nature and extent of Stewart’s shoulder pain.
In affirming the trial court’s ruling that Stewart’s injury
was work-related, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals noted that Kennamer
Brothers failed to offer any alternative explanation for how Stewart could
have suffered his shoulder injury. Stewart testified at trial that he
had not suffered any additional injury to his shoulder. The Court of Civil
Appeals deferred to the judgment of the trial court’s determination
of fact, which had the benefit of weighing the evidence at trial.
Also at issue, was the amount of Temporary Total Disability benefits awarder
to Stewart, which was the maximum amount available from the time he stopped
receiving payments, through the time that he was able to find suitable
replacement employment. The trial court erred in increasing the maximum
amount payable during a subsequent calendar year when the statutory minimum
increased. Temporary Total Benefits were determined to be fixed at the
time of the date of Stewart’s injury.