Worker’s Compensation Benefits – Assault By Co-Worker

Patrick v. Mako Lawn Care, Inc., [Ms. 2200239, July 30, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2021). The court (Moore, J.; Edwards, Hanson, and Fridy, JJ., concur; Thompson, P.J., concurs in the result) affirms the Madison Circuit Court’s judgment denying Kevin Patrick’s claim for worker’s compensation benefits for injuries he suffered as a result of a fight with a co-worker. The court first explains that even where the trial court does not receive ore tenus evidence, Ala. Code 1975 § 25-5-81(e), requires that “‘(1) In reviewing the standard of proof set forth herein and other legal issues, review by the Court of Civil Appeals shall be without a presumption of correctness. (2) In reviewing pure findings of fact, the finding of the circuit court shall not be reversed if that finding is supported by substantial evidence.’” Ms. *5.

In affirming, the court determines that the circuit court’s findings were supported by substantial evidence, including the finding that “although the ‘original causa belli’ may have been connected with the work, each action Patrick took thereafter was not for the benefit of the employer but, instead, was to gratify Patrick’s personal resentment and that Landon McAnally assaulted Patrick only after Patrick had escalated their personal verbal dispute into a physical confrontation.” Ms. **13-14.

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