Safety supervisor fails to get intoxication verdict thrown out
Powers v. Texas Mutual Insurance Co., No 11-08-008-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 01/29/10).
Ruling: The Texas Court of Appeals upheld a jury's finding that a supervisor was intoxicated at the time of his accident and affirmed judgment for the carrier.
it means: Under Texas law, an insurance carrier is not liable for compensation if the injury occurred while the employee was in a state of intoxication.
Summary: An oil rig safety supervisor was taken to the hospital when his truck flipped over. The police suspected alcohol was involved and obtained a blood sample from the supervisor, who was seriously injured. His workers' compensation claim was denied under the intoxicant exception. The supervisor challenged the sample's chain of custody. He alleged there were significant gaps in the chain of custody, including missing documentation. He argued the carrier's expert opinions relying on the sample should have been excluded. The Court of Appeals rejected his arguments, determining the jury had sufficient evidence to find that the blood was the supervisor's. It noted that the toxicologist and chemist who tested the blood indicated the sample was properly handled. The Court of Appeals ruled that the jury properly concluded an appropriate chain of custody was established and that the trial court correctly entered judgment for the carrier.
The alcohol concentration in the blood sample was more than twice the limit for intoxication in Texas. The supervisor argued there was a possibility the blood was not his because the deputy submitted it without the doctor's signature and because the deputy initially gave differing accounts of where the supervisor was when the doctor drew the blood. However, the court noted that although the deputy initially stated the blood was taken in the hospital's emergency room rather than its X-ray room, he unequivocally stated he saw the doctor take the blood from the supervisor's right arm. The deputy also stated he did not ask the doctor to sign the sample because he was busy treating the injured supervisor but provided his own signature on the vial.
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March 11, 2010
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