by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm
After an on the job accident occurs, sometimes it is necessary to file a lawsuit and litigate the case in court. Alabama law allows for the case to be filed in different counties, depending on the facts.
On January 27, 2017 the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an opinion on the issue. In Ex Parte Hibbett Sporting Goods, Keith Cantrell was injured while working for Hibbett Sporting Goods. Mr. Cantrell brought his workers’ compensation claim in Lamar County—his place of residence.
The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals found Lamar County to be improper however for several reasons. Mr. Cantrell worked for Hibbett Sporting Goods whose principal place of business is in Birmingham. Hibbett Sporting Goods is a subsidiary of the larger Hibbett Sports. Mr. Cantrell argued that the other subsidiary of Hibbett Sports, Hibbett Team Sales, was an agent of Hibbett Sporting Goods. As the Hibbett Team Sales conducted business in Lamar County, Mr. Cantrell argued Lamar County to be proper.
How many counties are there in Alabama? Answer is below.
The Court rejected Mr. Cantrell’s argument, instead finding that the proper court is one where the company is located. Since Mr. Cantrell worked for Hibbett Sporting Goods and not Hibbett Team Sales, Birmingham, or Jefferson County, was a more proper court for Mr. Cantrell’s claim.
Furthermore, the Court addressed the relationship between Hibbett Sporting Goods and Hibbett Team Sales. Mr. Cantrell argued Hibbett Team Sales to be acting as an agent of Hibbett Sporting Goods, but the two worked independently of each other, did not use the same merchandise, and were generally unrelated. The only commonality between the two is that they both are branches under the larger Hibbett Sports corporation.
Ultimately, the Court’s ruling means that injured employees should bring their workers’ compensation claims to Court where their employer is located, not where they reside (unless the employer does business by agent in that county). Additionally, the case can be filed in the county where the accident took place. Many injured employees have to trek out of their county in order to litigate their claim, but the awarded benefits may make the extra drive worthwhile.
We have previously discussed venue as it relates to Alabama workers’ compensation claims. We handle workers’ compensation cases state-wide. If you have questions concerning your workers’ compensation claim, contact the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm today. (205) 930-6900.
 No. 2160069 (Ala. Civ. App. Jan. 27, 2017).
Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced workers’ compensation law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine.
There are 67 counties in Alabama. Jefferson County is the most populous while Greene County is the least.