Texas pols want do-over of divisive SC ruling - UPDATE

Rob Luke Dec. 19, 2007, 9:00am

Craig Eiland

AUSTIN -- A group of state legislators and labor organizations has asked the Texas Supreme Court to reverse a recent contentious decision that expanded employer protection in labor suits.

The SC's August ruling in the case was one of three recently offered by Lone Star State trial lawyers as evidence that the top bench is too pro-business, LNL reported last month. The ruling also upset pro-consumer legal advocate Texas Watch.

In Entergy v. Summers the SC ruled on a technicality in favor of appellant Entergy from the original worker's comp ruling against it. Its opinion essentially allows property owners to also be considered "general contractors," giving them more legal protection in some workers' compensation claims.

Democrat Rep. Craig Eiland of Galveston drafted the bill, which was signed by Democrat Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston. Two Republicans - Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio and Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola - also signed on. The state AFL-CIO joined in support of their petition.

The lawmakers' brief claimed the SC decision was unconstitutional because it ignored the clear intent of the legislature and breaching the separation of powers, according to reports. The ruling hinged on a 1993 change in the language of a key state labor law.

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