Over $1,000,000 of premium collection settlements for Texas Mutual Insurance Company

Written by A&P News on May 3rd, 2019. Posted in News, Premium

Arnold & Placek, PC opened 2019 by negotiating over $1,000,000 of premium collection settlements for Texas Mutual Insurance Company. We have particular expertise in premium evasion tactics in difficult industries such as temporary staffing and trucking. With over 25 years of experience in litigating workers’ compensation premium disputes, Arnold & Placek is the go-to law firm for workers’ compensation carriers with Texas collection issues. The cases resolved this year include:

Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Core Personnel LLC, et al.

Core Personnel is a Dallas-based temporary staffing company. After Special Investigations concluded that Core had both under-reported and misclassified its payroll, Arnold & Placek was retained to recover the premium. After numerous discovery disputes, including a claim of total electronic data loss for one of the staffing companies, Core Personnel settled the claims against them for $550,000.

Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Damaso Rojo dba RAMI Materials Transport

After an audit of another policyholder revealed that RAMI’s clerical only policy was being used to provide certificates of insurance for work on state construction projects, Arnold & Placek obtained a liability summary judgment based on RAMI’s use of certificates of insurance without paying the appropriate premium. Shortly before a trial on damages, RAMI settled for $250,000.

Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Pro-Tech International Staffing Services, Inc.

A temporary staffing company with millions of dollars in payroll had been placing workers with cell phone and electrical device manufacturing companies around the DFW metroplex, yet it reported to its workers’ comp carrier that 90% of those workers performed only clerical duties to get a cheaper premium rate. Arnold & Placek was retained to file suit and quickly secured a $300,000 settlement, even before incurring the expense of discovery.

In re Estate of Howard, 43 S.W.3d 397, 403

Written by A&P News on October 30th, 2018. Posted in Appeals, News

In re Estate of Howard, 43 S.W.3d 397, 403 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2018, pet. denied) – Obtained a summary judgment win for an employer in a wrongful death case and preserved that win through the court of appeals and the Texas Supreme Court. The court held that an earlier decision by the Division of Workers’ Compensation—that the plaintiff was not the common-law spouse of the decease employee—barred the plaintiff from suing the employer as the employee’s alleged common-law spouse. The court also held that workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for an employee’s personal injury claim against his employer that survives his death.

Arnold & Placek Wins Appeal on TEA’s Invalid Administration of 2015-16 STAAR Assessments

Written by A&P News on March 29th, 2018. Posted in Appeals, News

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas today ruled for Arnold & Placek, P.C. and affirmed the denial of the TEA’s plea to the jurisdiction concerning a suit seeking to invalidate the results from the statewide administration of the 2015-16 STAAR assessments.

Arnold & Placek represents four parents from across the state in Lewis, et al. v. Morath, which seeks a declaration that the 2015-16 STAAR assessments for grades 3-8 did not comply with mandatory provisions of the Texas Education Code limiting the time length of the assessments. The parents also seek injunctive relief enjoining the TEA from using the invalid assessments to impose a wide range of consequences to parents across the state, including campus closures and student retention. The TEA sought to dismiss the parents’ suit for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the TEA’s administration of the tests and that the parents lacked standing to bring their claims. The trial court disagreed, denying the TEA’s plea to the jurisdiction. On appeal, the Third Court affirmed the denial, holding that the parents’ lawsuit properly alleges that the TEA acted outside of its legal authority and that the parents have standing to enjoin the TEA from imposing 2015-16 STAAR-related consequences on their children. The Third Court’s ruling allows the parents to proceed on their suit against the TEA, now pending in Travis County District Court.

Arnold & Placek P.C. partner R. Scott Placek, of counsel Kyle M. Jones, and associate Jonathan Chaltain represent the parents in the trial court; Mr. Placek, Mr. Chaltain, partner Matthew Foerster, and senior counsel Scott K. Arnold represented the parents and submitted the briefing on appeal.

Arnold & Placek, P.C. Prevails on Summary Judgment Regarding Insurance Coverage for Pre-Natal Injuries, in Case of First Impression for Texas

Written by A&P News on March 20th, 2018. Posted in Employer's Liability, News

Arnold & Placek, P.C. Prevails on Summary Judgment Regarding Insurance Coverage for Pre-Natal Injuries, in Case of First Impression for Texas

Judge Gray Miller for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, recently ruled for Arnold & Placek, P.C. on cross-motions for summary judgment concerning an insurance coverage dispute over a pre-natal injury. A pregnant employee, while working for a group home for disabled children, was struck in the stomach. She later sued the group home in Texas state court on behalf of her child, who was born prematurely with mental and physical injuries. While the employers’ liability carrier assumed defense of the group home in the underlying lawsuit, the group home’s commercial general liability carrier denied both defense and indemnity. On cross-motions for summary judgment, Arnold & Placek P.C., on behalf of the employers’ liability carrier, argued that the general liability carrier shared a duty to defend because the child was alleged to suffer an injury, in part, that was not a result of any injury to the parent-employee. The court granted the employers’ liability carrier’s motion and denied the general liability carrier’s motion, holding that the general liability carrier had a duty to share in the defense of the group home in the underlying lawsuit.

This is the first written opinion in Texas addressing insurance coverage of pre-natal injuries sustained while the parent-employee was in the course of their employment. The court’s opinion can be found at https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/texas/txsdce/4:2017cv00886/1419773/28/.

Arnold & Placek P.C. partner R. Scott Placek represented the employers liability carrier in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, with briefing on the cross-motions for summary judgment also worked on by senior counsel Scott K. Arnold and associate Jonathan Chaltain.

Arnold & Placek, P.C. wins summary judgment and affirmance on appeal in wrongful death case applying doctrine of issue preclusion.

Written by A&P News on February 1st, 2018. Posted in Appeals, Employer's Liability

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas today affirmed summary judgment for an employer that was the defendant in a wrongful death suit arising from a tank explosion. The decease employee was not formally married, but two women each claimed to be his common-law spouse and filed claims for workers’ compensation death benefits. The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation held a hearing and determined that no common-law marriage existed. One of the women then filed a wrongful death suit against the employer seeking punitive damages as the surviving spouse. The trial court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment, which the court of appeals affirmed, because the same issue that was dispositive of plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim—that no common-law marriage existed—was also dispositive of plaintiff’s standing to sue for wrongful death as the surviving spouse. The court of appeals also affirmed summary judgment on the “survival claim” that plaintiff brought as the administrator of the estate, because workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for any compensable death, and a survival claim is nothing more than the deceased employee’s claim for personal injury damages.

This is the first case in Texas applying the doctrine of issue preclusion (collateral estoppel) to a final decision by the Division of Workers’ Compensation on the question of whether a common-law marriage existed prior to an employee’s death. The case is In re Estate of Howard, No. 14-16-00676-CV, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Feb. 1, 2018).

Arnold & Placek, P.C. partners Scott Placek and Matthew Foerster represented the employer in the trial court and in the court of appeals.