Fraud, misrepresentation claims not barred due to separate acts, injuries
Warnke v. Nabors Drilling USA, L.P., No. 01-09-00734-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 04/07/11).
The Texas Court of Appeals held that a worker's claims of misrepresentation and fraud regarding his employer's workers' compensation coverage were not barred by the exclusivity provision of the workers' compensation law.
What it means: In Texas, a worker's fraud and misrepresentation claims relating to his employer's workers' compensation coverage are not barred under the exclusivity provision of the workers' compensation law if the employer's acts are separate from the initial event that caused the injury and the injuries are separate.
A worker suffered an injury when a pipe connected by a coworker came free and crushed his hand. The worker said his supervisor told him that he was not covered by workers' compensation insurance. A human resources representative also denied the employer's responsibility for the worker's medical expenses. The worker also claimed that his employer did not provide him written notice of workers' compensation insurance coverage before his injury. The worker sued his employer and coworker. Eight months after the accident and three months after suing, he began receiving workers' compensation benefits. The Texas Court of Appeals held that the workers' compensation law did not cover the worker's claims relating to the employer's misrepresentations and fraud with regard to its workers' compensation coverage.
The court explained that the workers' compensation law is limited to work-related injuries. The worker's fraud and misrepresentation claims arose out of separate conduct from the hand injury. Also, the claims caused a separate injury because the worker had to borrow money to obtain medical treatment during the eight months the employer denied him coverage. The worker also said the financial stress caused him mental anguish.
The court decided that the Workers' Compensation Act and its exclusivity provision applied even though the employer did not give the worker notice of its coverage, contrary to the worker's argument.
The court also concluded that a fact issue existed as to whether the exclusive remedy provision applied to the worker's claim against the coworker because the coworker's employment status was not conclusively proven.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
May 19, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications