Workers' Compensation - Return-To-Work Statute

City of Guntersville v. Looney, [Ms. 2190773, Mar. 12, 2021], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2021). The court (Thompson, P.J.; Hanson and Fridy, JJ., concur; Moore and Edwards, JJ., concur in the result) affirms the Marshall Circuit Court’s judgment awarding Looney total-disability benefits under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. The court rejects the City of Guntersville’s argument that the return-to-work statute applies, and explains

In this case, the trial court was asked to make an initial disability determination and Looney was not working at the time of trial; therefore, in accord with Pemco [Aeroplex, Inc. v. Moore, 775 So. 2d 215, 218 (Ala. Civ. App. 1999)] and Grieser [v. Advanced Disposal Services, LLC, 252 So. 2d 664 (Ala. 2017)], the trial court did not err in refusing to apply the return-to-work statute in this case. Grace [v. Standard Furniture Manufacturing Co., 54 So. 3d 909 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010)] is easily distinguishable because, unlike Looney, who was not working at the time of the trial concerning the initial determination regarding his disability, the employee in Grace was working at the time of the trial court’s initial determination of the employee’s disability. Gibbons [v. Shaddix Pulpwood Co., 699 So. 2d 225 (Ala. Civ. App. 1997)] is also distinguishable because, although the employee in Gibbons was not working at the time of the initial disability determination, clear and convincing evidence did not support a finding that the employee was permanently and totally disabled as a consequence of his work-related injury.

Ms. **23-24.

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