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Texas court to rehear ruling on whether premises owner can avoid tort liability

by on
in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

The Texas Supreme Court in April granted a petition to rehear its decision that a premises owner was protected from tort liability under the state’s workers’ compensation law because it was also a general contractor.

In August 2007, the state Supreme Court unanimously decided Entergy Gulf States Inc. v. Summers, ruling that the Texas labor code does not preclude a premises owner from serving as its own general contractor.

John Summers, who was employed by International Maintenance Corp. (IMC), brought the case. IMC performed work for Entergy under a contract that defined IMC as an independent contractor. After Summers was injured on the job, he received workers’ compensation benefits under Entergy’s workers’ comp policy.

Nevertheless, Summers sued for negligence. The Supreme Court found that Entergy was shielded from tort liability because it could be considered both a general contractor and a premises owner.

In its April decision, the court gave no reason for its actions. According to attorney Steven Barkley, the court “received a tremendous amount of criticism from various amicus briefs on their decision.”

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