Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Bush

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama

Jefferson County | 187 So. 3d 1148 | Jan. 19, 2015

Court Challenges Evidence Linking Knee Injury to Worsening of Pre-existing Back Condition

Stephen Dale Bush, after incurring a right-knee injury at his workplace, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, sought compensation under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act. In the initial judgment, he was awarded permanent-total-disability benefits. However, this was overturned on appeal. Subsequently, the trial court determined that Bush's injury extended its impact beyond just the knee, affecting other body parts. This led Goodyear, the employer, to appeal this decision.

Central to the appeal was the validity of the claim that Bush's knee injury had consequences on other parts of his body. While Dr. Edward Kissel, the orthopedic surgeon who treated Bush, placed him under permanent light-duty restrictions, he did not confirm a direct correlation between the knee injury and its effects on other body areas. Moreover, though Bush had a back condition from a past accident, there was no concrete evidence indicating that the knee injury had aggravated this pre-existing issue. Bush's assertions were further weakened by his own testimony which dissociated his knee injury from his back pain. Despite observing Bush's gait and movement in court, the trial court's inferences lacked substantial backing.

To conclude, while Alabama law does recognize circumstantial evidence in workers' compensation cases, in this particular case, the trial court's judgment wasn't supported by substantial evidence. As a result, Bush should only be compensated for the loss of use of his right leg, prompting a remand for the correct compensation calculation.

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