Case name: Goldminz v. City of Dallas, No. 05-08-01420-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 02/26/10).
Ruling: The Texas Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the city in a volunteer police officer's claim for workers' compensation.
What it means: Under Texas law, a person is not an employee and not entitled to workers' compensation if he is in the service of a political subdivision and is paid on a piecework basis or on a basis other than by the hour, day, week, month or year.
A volunteer police officer injured his hand and back attempting to handcuff an intoxicated participant at a rally. He filed a workers' compensation claim with the city. The city denied the claim but paid over $38,000 in medical bills. The officer argued that the Dallas city code and the city's payment of his medical expenses were evidence that the city employed him. The Texas Court of Appeals rejected the officer's arguments. Because a volunteer police officer by definition serves without pay, he is not an employee under Texas law, the court said. It noted that contrary to the officer's claim, the city code only provides that reserve officers may receive medical assistance but does not mandate medical coverage for volunteers. It also does not provide workers' compensation for volunteer police officers. The court determined the officer did not offer a "scintilla" of evidence to support his claim that he was an employee and affirmed summary judgment for city.
The court also explained that the city's authorization of the officer's medical bills did not mean that he was an employee. The city only authorized the payment of $20,000 for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, the court pointed out. The court explained that under Texas' workers' compensation law, a political subdivision "may" cover volunteer police officers, but the officer did not present any evidence to show the city was his employer.
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April 1, 2010
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