TEXAS SUPREME COURT HOLDS REMAND IS PROPER REMEDY WHEN TRIAL COURT FINDS NO VALID IMPAIRMENT RATING IN COMP CASE
The Texas Supreme Court, in accordance with its opinion in American Zurich v. Samudio that issued this summer, recently reiterated that remand is a proper remedy when a trial or appellate court finds that there is no valid impairment rating in a worker’s compensation dispute. In DeLeon v. Royal Indemnity Co., No. 10-0319, 2012 WL 5661980 (Tex. Nov. 16, 2012), the claimant had suffered a back injury in the course and scope of his employment, and sought worker’s compensation benefits. The carrier paid medical benefits, but disputed the claimant’s entitlement to impairment benefits. A doctor determined the claimant’s impairment rating to be 20%, and the TDI Worker’s Compensation Division followed the doctor’s opinion.
While the dispute was on appeal to district court, the Austin Court of Appeals in a separate case determined that the authority underlying the doctor’s conclusion was invalid. The trial court therefore reversed the Division’s decision, and the Austin Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling. The Court of Appeals also stated that “no mechanism exists in the [Worker’s Compensation] Act to remand matters back to [the Division].”
This summer, in Samudio, the bulk of the Supreme Court’s opinion dealt with jurisdictional issues raised where the only impairment rating properly before the trial court is invalid. The Supreme Court held that the trial court still had jurisdiction to hear the appeal from the administrative proceedings. The Supreme Court also determined that even though the court system could not impose its own rating where no proper rating was available, the courts did have the power to remand to the Division for further proceedings. Applying Samudio, the Court in DeLeon reversed the court of appeals and remanded the appeal to the trial court, with instructions to remand the case to the Division.