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WORKERS' COMPENSATION & SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION - HAND CONSTRUCTION, LLC V. STRINGER

Hand Construction, LLC v. Stringer, [Ms. 2150730, Jan. 13, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2017). The Court of Civil Appeals reverses a judgment entered by the Mobile Circuit Court awarding medical and temporary-total disability benefits under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, § 25-5-1, et seq., Ala. Code 1975 to an employee hired in Alabama but who worked principally in North Dakota and then was injured in an automobile accident in Arkansas. The court rejected the Mobile Circuit Court’s conclusion that it had obtained subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to § 25-5-35(d)(2), Ala. Code 1975 based upon the finding that at the time the accident occurred, the worker was “working under a contract of hire made in this state in employment not principally localized in any state.” Ms. *6-7. Noting that § 25-5-35(d)(2) “allows an employee to recover workers’ compensation benefits under the Act for injuries he or she sustained while working outside the State of Alabama when he or she ‘was working under a contract of hire made in the state in employment not principally localized in any state’” (Ms. *8) the court found that the employee failed to meet his burden under the statute of proving that his “employment must not have been principally localized in any one state.” Ms. *9, quoting Sims v. Leland Roberts Constr., Inc., 671 So. 2d 106, 108 (Ala. Civ. App. 1995). The court concludes “Substantial evidence does not support the trial court’s finding that, at the time of the accident, [employee’s] employment ‘was not principally localized in any state.’” Ms. *11. The Mobile Circuit Court thus lacked subject-matter jurisdiction and erred in finding the employee entitled to recover benefits pursuant to § 25-5-35(d)(2). Id.

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