WORKERS' COMPENSATION - DOUBLE RECOVERY - DENMARK V. INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING SPECIALISTS, INC.
In Denmark v. Industrial Manufacturing Specialists, Inc., [Ms. 2101113, Jun. 8, 2012] __ So. 3d __(Ala. Civ. App. 2012), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals addressed whether the plaintiff was entitled to double compensation because his employer was violating child labor laws at the time the plaintiff was injured. The Workers' Compensation Act states: "If at the time of injury the minor was employed in violation of or contrary to the law regulating the employment or any part thereof, then the compensation shall be two times what it would be if the employment had been legal." Ala. Code ¤ 25-5-34. Alabama's child labor laws prohibit any person under 18 years of age from being employed to operate a band saw. Ala. Code ¤ 24-8-43(a)(16). The trial court found that the employer allowed the sixteen-year-old plaintiff to operate a band saw in clear violation of ¤ 25-8-43(a)(16). However, it held that "because [Plaintiff] was not actually operating the band saw at the time of the accident and because the band saw was not the source of his injuries," "there was 'no nexus or causal connection' between [Plaintiff's] injuries and the activity prohibited by ¤ 25-8-43(a)(16)." As a result, the trial court held that the plaintiff was not entitled to double compensation pursuant to Ala. Code ¤ 25-5-34. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reversed. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was maneuvering a 1,300 pound length of bar stock so it could be cut with a band saw. The Court held: "Although [Plaintiff] was not cut or otherwise injured by the band-saw blades, he was nonetheless working at a job that minors are prohibited from performing when the accident occurred." As a result, the Court ordered that the employer pay double compensation.