A circuit court judge in Alabama has declared that state’s entire workers’ compensation system unconstitutional, due in part to a non-severability clause in the law. Judge Pat Ballard of the 10th Judicial District Circuit in Jefferson County issued the decision in the matter of Nora Clower v. CVS Caremark Corp. yesterday, but has stayed enforcement for 120 days in order to give the Legislature time to remedy the problems he identified. The Alabama Legislature is currently finishing up its Session, which ends May 22nd. There are two main issues in the case:
- First, the $220 weekly “cap” on PPD benefits regardless of the worker’s pre-injury wages. This is less than the minimum AWW payment in Alabama and has not been adjusted in three decades.
- Second, the state’s 15 percent cap on attorney’s fees, which Judge Ballard explains to be a violation of due process and separation of powers. He references the Florida Castellanos decision in his explanation of this.
Judge Ballard explains in his conclusion that he understands the gravity of the matter:
“This Court is not blind to the magnitude nor the consequence of its holding […] this will mean that Alabama’s taxpayers will shoulder a large measure of the burden. These crises are the direct result of a problem created and allowed to persist by the Legislature.”
Download the decision in full: Alabama 10th Judicial Court_Clower v CVS_5.9.17
Read further coverage from WorkCompCentral here.