ADLA member Danny Collier and associate Catherine Simon Spann of the firm Luther, Collier, Hodges & Cash LLP recently obtained a defense verdict in favor of a co-employee in a Baldwin County jury trial.
The plaintiff (employed by a staffing company and attached to a local general contractor) alleged that his supervisor had provided a grinder for him to use without the side handle installed, which led to a superficial cut on his leg. The plaintiff’s theory under Ala. Code § 25-5-11 was that the missing side handle was equivalent to a missing safety device.
Accordingly, the plaintiff advanced the “willful conduct” exception to Alabama’s general rule prohibiting co-employee actions. While the plaintiff drove himself to the doctor for possible stitches he was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident.
Plaintiff argued that his injuries from the motor vehicle accident were directly caused by the missing grinder handle. Among other defenses, defense counsel proved that (1) the grinder handle was not a “safety guard or safety device” under the statute, and (2) there was no causal link between the missing side handle and the motor vehicle accident.
The plaintiff tried to make the causal link by alleging blood-loss-induced unconsciousness from the grinder cut causing him to run a red light on the Foley Beach Express.
The defense proved the theory hollow using the doctor’s testimony, the paramedic’s testimony and eye-witness testimony. After four days of trial and less than 30 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.