Judge rules state's workers' compensation act unconstitutional

May 9, 2017 -- Posted by : admin
An interesting case out of Alabama where workers' compensation "reform" similar to "reform" efforts in New York, was struck down on constitutional grounds.

A Jefferson County circuit judge today struck down Alabama's Workers' Compensation Act.

Circuit Judge Pat Ballard found two provisions, the $220 a week cap in compensation and the 15 percent cap on attorneys fees, unconstitutional.

However, because one or more provisions were found unconstitutional, the entire act is nullified.

Ballard is staying his order 120 days so the Alabama Legislature can correct it, due to what he called the "magnitude" of the ruling.

Attorney Lawrence King, speaking for the plaintiffs, said Ballard had "turned the lights onto a horrible inequity that has penalized and injured members of Alabama's labor force for decades, and I really am encouraged that his clarion call for change will finally be heard."

The ruling in the case of Nora Clower vs. CVS Caremark, in Jefferson County Circuit Court, came this morning. Clower's attorneys filed suit in November 2013, stating she had injured her back on the job and was entitled to workers' compensation benefits. According to an affidavit filed in February of this year, Clower said she earned an average of about $335 a week for CVS, being employed there for less than a year before her injury.

Under the current law, workers hurt while on the job are eligible for $220 a week in compensation for a disability once their condition has stabilized. Lawyers for the plaintiff argued that that law dated to 1987, and $220 per week was above minimum wage level and the poverty level at that time. However, living costs and wages far exceed that number now. Attorneys argued a similar cap would total just under $500 today.

Read the full article here.

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