From the Files of Powell and Denny
Today is the beginning of a new series of Friday Blogs titled “From the Files of Powell and Denny.” In this set of blogs, I am going to briefly go through some of the cases our attorneys have handled over the last 30 years to hopefully better explain what we do and show why you might like to call our offices with questions concerning your Alabama Job Injury, Car Wreck or Social Security Disability claim.
The first case I would like to review is related to the $750,000 verdict we recently received in a wrongful termination case related to a workers compensation injury suffered by our client while employed by Hanna Truck Line, Inc. out of Fairfield, AL.
Our client was a 56-year-old professional truck driver who unfortunately suffered a torn rotator cuff injury while performing his job duties. Prior to this injury, the defendant admitted that our client had an exemplary work record up, but within 90 days of his job injury he had been terminated.
Immediately after suffering his injury, our client notified his employer of his job injury and was sent to see a company doctor, but our client’s employer also chose this time to implement a new Point System detailing disciplinary actions that would be taken against employees for things such as missing work, coming in late, leaving early, etc. The timing was somewhat suspect, especially since the document detailing the new disciplinary steps did not apply to our client per the document itself.
Initially our client was given some physical restrictions are returned to work in a limited capacity, but his condition did not improve and eventually he was sent by his employer to see Dr. Jeffrey Davis-a Birmingham orthopedic surgeon. Hanna Truck Lines chose Dr. Jeffrey Davis for our client to see, scheduled the appointment for our client and told him when he was to appear at Dr. Davis’ office for his first appointment. Our client dutifully showed up for the appointment with complaints of “…pain in the left shoulder on the top, pain in the neck, numbness in both hands, increased pain in the shoulder when lifting arm or reaching.” Our client received a pain shot and was informed that he could go home for the rest of the day because of his reaction to the injection—but his employer wrote up our client and gave him points for “No Call-No Show.”
This was important in the trial that later ensued because Hanna Truck Lines made two contradictory arguments supporting writing up our client for seeing the surgeon. First, they claimed that they didn’t know our client had an appointment to see Dr. Davis and when he failed to show up to work, he was written up per company policy, but once that façade was destroyed (again-they told our client where and when to go to see the surgeon), the employer then claimed that they did not know the surgeon has sent our client home following the appointment-but this claim was also refuted at trial.
Our client ended up having two surgeries to repair his injured shoulder. For those of you who have had to undergo rotator cuff repair surgery, you know how painful recovery can be for you. We have had numerous clients undergo this surgery, and they have all told us about the pain and how sleeping is especially difficult. Often after shoulder surgery, patients will spend weeks sleeping in a recliner as that is the only way they can sleep without excruciating pain.
Our client lived in Cullman, AL, and given his injury, the shoulder harness he was wearing and the pain medication he was taking after surgery-he was not able to drive from Cullman to Fairfield to show up and just sit at a desk as his employer wanted him to do. At this point, our attorneys began talking with Hanna’s attorneys to discuss what steps the parties could take to get our client safely back into the office. The employer’s suggested that our client come to work and just sleep in the back of his sleeper cab during his recovery-which is something even the surgeon said was not optimal for our client’s recovery. While actively trying to find a way for our client to safely make it back to work-Hanna fired our client. Again- our client was fired within 90-days of his job injury.
At trial, Hanna again claimed that our client was written up again and terminated per the company policy (that did not appear to apply to him) because they did not know where he was; we were able to show not only did they know about our efforts to help get out client back to work safely, but that they had another employee out due to a job injury who had missed work without actually calling in and no disciplinary actions were taken against this employee-but this injured worker did not hire an attorney-and that was key.
We were able to show the Court in Bessemer that Hanna had a policy of pushing their injured employees to accept the lowest amount possible monetarily for their job injuries-paid out in weekly installments; hiring a lawyer to protect one’s interests led to termination or a forced resignation as part of any eventual settlement of their workers’ compensation claim—and this is against the law.
Alabama Code §25-5-11.1 states that “[n]o employee shall be terminated by an employer solely because the employee has instituted or maintained any action against the employer to recover workers’ compensation benefits under this chapter or solely because the employee has filed a written notice of violation of a safety rule….” An employer CANNOT fire you solely because you have reported and sought workers compensation benefits related to a job injury.
Employers will never admit that they fired an injured worker for pursuing workers compensation benefits; the evidence has to be ferreted out during the discovery process after a lawsuit has been filed. In this case, after a three-week trial, we were able to prove that our client was wrongfully fired for seeking the benefits he was legally entitled to receive, and we were able to obtain a verdict in favor of our client for $750,000.00.
If you have suffered a work injury and have questions about your right to Alabama Workers’ Compensation benefits, or if you have been fired after seeking benefits for your job injury, don’t hesitate to contact Powell and Denny and speak with one of the experienced workers compensation and wrongful termination lawyers and schedule a free consultation. Appointments are available in person, or virtually through Zoom for your convenience from wherever you live.
Powell and Denny: We Work When You Can’t
Offices in Birmingham, AL and Huntsville, AL
Alabama Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Birmingham Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Huntsville Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
North Alabama Workers Compensation Lawyers
Powell and Denny have been selected as one of the Best Law Firms by U.S. News and World Report for each of the last 9 years, have been selected as one of Birmingham’s Top Lawyers by B-Metro Magazine for the last 5 years, have been selected by The National Advocates as one of the Top 20 Workers’ Compensation Firms (plaintiffs) and Powell and Denny, P.C.-has been selected as one of the “Best of the Best” law firms by The American Registry.
Mr. Denny is AV rated by Martindale Hubbard (the highest rating possible) and Mr. Powell has been rated as Superior by The National Registry
+ Powell and Denny have successfully represented injured workers from Birmingham, Huntsville, Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Athens, Decatur, Town Creek Ardmore, Hartselle, Madison, Toney, Scottsboro, Ft. Payne, New Hope, Guntersville, Albertville, Boaz, Ashville, Anniston, Gadsden, Cullman, Jasper, Gardendale, Morris, Kimberly, Centerpoint, Leeds, Tarrant City, Fairfield, Hueytown, Bessemer, Adger, Tuscaloosa, Cordova, Alabaster, Pelham, Harpersville, Opelika, Phenix City, Montgomery, Clanton, Calera, Enterprise, Monroeville, Mobile, Evergreen, Alabaster, Pelham, Trussville and towns and cities in between.
From the Files of Powell and Denny