COURT UPHOLDS JURY’S VERDICT AWARDING DAMAGES FOR BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT OF WORKERS COMPENSATION CLAIM

July 25, 2011

Last Thursday, the First Court of Appeals in Houston upheld a jury verdict for a workers compensation claimant who sued his former employer for breach of the settlement agreement that resolved the workers compensation dispute.  City of Houston v. Rhule, S.W.3d, 2011 WL 2936351 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2011).  Rhule was a firefighter for the City of Houston and was injured on the job.  Eventually, Rhule and the City settled his workers compensation claim.  More than twenty years later, a dispute arose regarding medical care Rhule was receiving that the City did not agree that it needed to pay for under the settlement agreement.  Rhule sued the City for breach of contract, seeking mental anguish and pain damages as well.  The appellate court upheld the jury verdict that found the City breached the contract. But, the appellate court modified the award to remove the pain damages because those damages would not ordinarily be recoverable in a breach of contract case.