City of Montgomery v. Robinson
In City of Montgomery v. Robinson, 441 So. 2d 857 (Ala. 1983), the Court held that Trinity Act benefits were supplemental to workers' compensation benefits, the exclusivity provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act do not prevent her from recovering under both Acts.
In Robinson, this Court explained:
"Act No. 26, the 'Trinity Act,' derives its origin from a fire which occurred at Montgomery in 1951. Three firemen lost their lives while fighting a fire at Trinity Presbyterian Church. At that time there were no laws under which a City of Montgomery employee could be compensated due to work-related injury. In response to this situation the Alabama Legislature enacted Act No. 233, Acts of 1951. This Act was a general act of local application with a population bracket of 57,000 to 127,000. It applied to cities within that population classification and provided that employees of such cities totally disabled in the performance of duty should receive a monthly benefit equal to one-half of their base monthly compensation at the time of the injury for the time such disability continued. It further provided that the city personnel board could order that such an employee be paid his regular compensation for a period not exceeding six months. Benefits were accorded the widow of a city employee who was killed or who died as a result of injury sustained in the line of duty, and benefits were also extended to minor children. This Act also contained an exclusivity clause:
"'Persons receiving benefits under this Act shall not be entitled to or receive any other benefits from the city or any agency thereof on account of disability or the death of any person.'
"In 1962 the legislature enacted Act No. 26 which, while containing the same coverage, benefits and exclusivity clause, amended the population classification of Act No. 233 by raising it to apply to city populations from 100,000 to 200,000.
"Later, in 1975, the legislature enacted Act No. 565, a general act:
"'Section 1. After the effective date of this act, the provisions of the Code of Alabama 1940, Title 26, Chapter 5, shall be applicable to the employees of all counties and all municipalities having populations greater than 2,000 according to the most recent federal decennial census, and the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Law shall govern in their employment.
"'Section 3. The provisions of this act are supplemental and shall not be construed to repeal any laws not directly inconsistent herewith.
"To summarize, by its terms the local act, No. 26 The Trinity Act, makes its benefits exclusive. The general act, No. 565, placed covered city employees under the Workmen's Compensation Law, but made its provisions 'supplemental' and mandated that Act No. 565 'shall not be construed to repeal any laws not directly inconsistent herewith.'" (441 So. 2d at 858-59.)
Thus, the holding in Robinson was predicated, in part, on Act No. 565, Ala. Acts 1975, a general act with local application, which stated, in pertinent part, that "the provisions of this act are supplemental and shall not be construed to repeal any laws not directly inconsistent herewith."
The Court in Robinson concluded that the Legislature's intent was to make the benefits under the Trinity Act (Act No. 26, Ala. Acts 1962) supplemental to those under Act No. 565; therefore, the Court held that the provisions for benefits under the Trinity Act were not repealed by the later enactment of Act No. 565 "because the legislative intent to do so was not unequivocally expressed." (441 So. 2d at 860.)
The Court did conclude that the Legislature's enactment of Act No. 565, a general law, impliedly repealed the exclusivity provisions contained in 271 and 272 of the earlier workers' compensation law (Code of Alabama 1940, Title 26, Chapter 5)--now codified as 25-5-52 and -53, Ala. Code 1975--because those provisions "do conflict irreconcilably with the terms of Act No. 565." (441 So. 2d at 860. (