WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: TEXAS SUPREME COURT CONFIRMS EXCLUSIVE REMEDY BARS ALL EMPLOYEES

June 17, 2013

The Texas Supreme Court recently held that coverage disputes between the carrier and employer do not affect the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy bar which prevents injured employees from suing their employers.  In City of Bellaire v. Johnson, No. 11-0933, --- S.W.3d ---, 2013 WL 245051 (Tex. June 7, 2013), a city employee who was paid by a staffing service was injured on the job.  He attempted to circumvent the exclusive remedy by arguing he was not actually covered by the policy because he was paid by the staffing service, not the city, and therefore he did not qualify as a “paid employee” for whom the workers’ compensation policy provided coverage.

Relying on last year’s decision, Port Elevator-Brownsville, L.L.C. v. Casados, 358 S.W.3d 328 (Tex. 2012), the Texas Supreme Court rebuffed the employee’s hyper-technical attempt to escape the exclusive remedy bar.  The court observed that the undisputed evidence showed he was legally the city’s employee in that the city controlled the details of his work, and he was paid by the city via the staffing service, and he therefore fell into the category of employees “legally required to be covered.”