DOUBLE INDEMNITY ASSESSED AGAINST EMPLOYER

MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc., f/k/a NHB Industries, Inc. v. Nacola Ruggs:

In this opinion released on December 12, 2008, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals considered whether the trial court properly enforced the double penalty provision set forth in §25-5-8(e) which penalizes employers for either not properly maintaining workers’ compensation insurance or not being an authorized self-insurer. the Alabama Supreme Court previously determined that a motion seeking the double indemnity penalty provision was not subject to the time limitations set forth in Rule 59 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision based on the testimony of the general counsel for the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations who stated that MasterBrand did not have insurance and was not an authorized self-insurer at the time of the accident.

As a practice pointer, it may be prudent to secure an early stipulation on the issue of insurance so there are no surprises at trial. If the double indemnity penalty is an issue then it should be taken into account when evaluating the case for possible settlement.