Monday, February 15, 2010

Carrier Loses Workers Compensation Appeal over Injured Worker's Impairment Rating for Jurisdictional Reasons

American Zurich Ins. Co. v. Samudio (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Feb. 11, 2010)(Alcala) (Insurer's appeal in workers compensation case over worker's impairment rating fails, court of appeals affirms plea to the jurisdiction in judicial review suit; attorney fees award in favor of prevailing claimant in workers comp judicial review suit was proper)



Appellant, Zurich American Insurance Company (Zurich), a workers' compensation carrier, appeals from the trial court's judgment awarding attorney's fees to Daniel Samudio, appellee, and dismissing its appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Zurich had filed a petition for judicial review of a final decision by the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation (Division) that held Daniel Samudio, appellee, had a 20 percent impairment rating.

In three issues, Zurich asserts that (1) the trial court had jurisdiction to determine whether Samudio's impairment rating complied with the Texas Workers' Compensation Act, (2) Samudio's plea to the jurisdiction, taken to its logical extension, would obviate summary judgment practice, and (3) the trial court should not have ordered Zurich to pay Samudio's attorneys' fees.

We conclude that (1) the trial court properly dismissed Zurich's judicial review action because it did not have jurisdiction under the Texas Workers Compensation Act to effect the remedies sought by Zurich, (2) a plea to the jurisdiction is a proper procedural vehicle for challenging a trial court's subject matter jurisdiction, and (3) the trial court properly ordered Zurich to pay Samudio's reasonable and necessary attorney's fees because Samudio was the prevailing party in the lawsuit.

We affirm.

Before Chief Justice Radack, Justices Alcala and Higley
01-08-00233-CV American Zurich Insurance Company v. Daniel Samudio (link to pdf version)
Appeal from 127th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court Judge:
Hon. Sharolyn P. Wood

Effective September 1, 2005 the legislature abolished the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission (the Commission), and transferred its responsibilities to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers' Compensation (the Division). Act of May 29, 2005, 79th Leg. R.S., ch. 265 §§ 8.001(b), 8.004(a), 2005 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 608.

KEY WORDS: judicial review of administrative agency decision, exclusive jurisdiction doctrine, plea to the jurisdiction, exhaustion of administrative remedies, worker's compensation appeal, compensable injury, method of determining impairment rating, disputing impairment rating given to injured claimant, contested case hearing, attorneys fee award to prevailing party in workers' comp appeal

1 comment:

doshimaitri said...

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