Workers' comp claim bars civil suit, justices affirm

David Yates Mar. 30, 2010, 10:48am


Alleging that he should have never been left unsupervised, Brandon McDonald sued his employer after snagging his finger in a wire stripper.

In April 2007, McDonald filed suit in Jefferson County against his former supervisor, David Albright, and employer, Port Iron. On Dec. 22, 2008, Judge Gary Sanderson granted the defendants' summary judgment, dismissing the suit.

On March 25 the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Texas affirmed Judge Sanderson's decision, ruling that McDonald's workers' compensation claim bars him from filing a civil claim.

On appeal, McDonald argued there was insufficient evidence supporting dismissal and that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment, but justices disagreed.

"The summary judgment evidence establishes as a matter of law that the exclusive remedy provision of the Texas Workers Compensation Act bars McDonald's claims against Port Iron and Albright," states a memorandum opinion authored by Chief Justice Steve McKeithen.

"For that reason, we do not reach the appellees' no-evidence motion for summary judgment regarding negligence. We overrule the two issues raised by the appellant and affirm the judgment of the trial court."

On April 6, 2005, McDonald alleged he was injured while working under the direction of Port Iron, and that Albright left McDonald working unattended when he caught his finger in a wire stripper.

Less than a year after the suit was filed, defendants moved for summary judgment on grounds that McDonald had no evidence that either Port Iron or Albright caused McDonald's injuries, court papers say.

The motion for summary judgment also asserted that Port Iron and Albright were entitled to summary judgment on the ground that the Texas Workers Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy for McDonald's injuries.

In his appeal, McDonald argued that the defendants failed to establish that Port Iron had a valid workers' compensation insurance policy.

However, court documents show that a policy covering the period of time during which McDonald sustained his injury was attached to the motion for summary judgment.

McDonald did not object to the form of the summary judgment evidence, the opinion states.

He represented himself throughout the litigation.

Albright and Port Iron were represented by attorney Craig M. Shivers Jr.

Trial case No. B179-084
Appeals Case No. 09-09-00011-CV

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