In an opinion handed down earlier today, the Eastland Court of Appeals granted the Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed by Arnold & Placek on behalf of its client, Texas Mutual Insurance Company. The case, In re Texas Mutual Ins. Co., et al, arose out of a suit for judicial review in the 188th District Court for Howard County. The employer intervened into an existing judicial review suit, attempting to seek review of DWC determination of non-compensability for other employees in the same accident. After Judge Robert Moore denied Texas Mutual’s Plea to the Jurisdiction, mandamus proceedings were instituted. The 11th Court of Appeals held that an employer has no standing to challenge the denial of compensability by their carrier, or to appeal a determination of non-compensability at the DWC. As a result, the court dismissed the petition in intervention of Amerimex Drilling I, Ltd., and ordered the trial court to dismiss the intervention by December 1, 2010.
This case is significant because it is the first case to directly examine the full scope of an employer’s standing to contest DWC determinations. The Eastland court looked first and foremost to the plain language of the statute to determine that no general standing exists for employers. In its opinion, the Eastland court considered, and rejected, each of the major arguments typically asserted by employers who attempt to institute judicial reviews. They further distinguished the Tyler Asphalt case, that many employers improperly rely upon for the proposition that payment of workers’ compensation premium establishes general standing for the employer to litigate claims before the DWC and in district court. The full opinion is available here.