Workers’ Compensation – Aggravation Versus Recurrence of Prior Injury – Lack Of Trial Transcript

United-Johnson Brothers of Alabama, LLC v. Billups, et al., [Ms. 2200122, Sept. 17, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2021). The court (Edwards, J.; Thompson, P.J., and Moore, Hanson, and Fridy, JJ., concur) affirms the Jefferson Circuit Court’s judgment that a back injury suffered by the employee Billups on February 12, 2019, “was an aggravation of a back injury that he had suffered on October 18, 2016, while working for the employer and not a recurrence of the October 2016 injury.” Ms. *2.

The court explains “there must be some evidence indicating that a subsequent accident caused some new damage to the physical structure of the employee’s body to establish that the employee suffered an aggravation of an injury that resulted from his or her previous accident, rather than a recurrence,” Ms. *19, and acknowledges that “differentiating between whether an employee has suffered an aggravation of an injury or a recurrence of an injury is a fact-based inquiry and can be a difficult task.” Ms. *21. The court affirms based largely on the absence of a transcript of the plaintiff’s trial testimony,

In any event, the problem in this case is that we have no way of knowing what Billups stated at trial regarding his pain, his other symptoms, or their extent and location, and that missing testimony, coupled with the deposition testimony of Dr. Jones and relevant medical records, could have supported the conclusion that the February 2019 accident caused some new damage to the physical structure of Billups’s body that might not have been reflected on his MRIs, particularly in light of the fact that Billups had been able to work full-time, without restrictions, before that accident.

Ms. *24.

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