G.A. West & Co., Inc. v. Claiborne Johnston

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama

Mobile County | 92 So.3d 74 | Feb. 10, 2012

Court Affirms Permanent Total Disability for Back Injury Despite Pre-Existing Injuries

Claiborne Johnston worked for G.A. West & Co. and sustained a back injury on the job in 2006. Previously, he had hip-replacement surgeries and was on prescription medication, but he did not disclose this when applying for the job. During the incident, Johnston slipped on a water pipe and experienced severe pain in his lower back and hips.

Johnston initially thought that the injury was related to his hips, however, subsequent medical examination revealed a significant herniation of the disk at L4-L5 and a central annular tear at L3-L4. Johnston completed workers for a year after the injury and then stopped due to unbearable pain.

G.A. West appealed the trial court's decision contending that Johnston failed to reveal his medical history and thus, was barred from receiving workers' compensation by Ala.Code 1975, § 25-5-51. G.A West also argued that Johnston concealed his work-related injury and failed to establish medical causation.

The court found substantial evidence that G.A. West had actual notice of Johnston's injury through direct observation by a supervisor. The court also concluded that Johnston was permanently and totally disabled from the injury and entitled to workers' compensation benefits. However, the court made an error in awarding compensation for the remainder of Johnston's life instead of for the period of his permanent total disability.

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