Supreme Court Throws Out Verdict for Family of Deceased Worker

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a jury verdict in favor of the family of a worker who was killed on the job. The case was Port Elevator-Brownsville, L.L.C. v. Casados, et al, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2012)(1/27/12).

Rafael Casados, the deceased employee, worked for a staffing agency. His employer assigned him to work for Port Elevator. On his third day, he suffered a fatal injury. Port Elevator’s workers’ compensation carrier denied coverage since he worked for the staffing company. In addition, Port Elevator had not paid workers’ compensation insurance premiums for him.

The Court ruled that an employee may have more than one employer. Here, the Court said that Port Elevator was one of Mr. Casados’ employers. Workers’ compensation rules generally prohibit an employer from “splitting its workforce” (providing workers’ compensation coverage for sum, but not all, of its employees). So, the Court ruled that Port Elevator could not be held accountable for its negligence because it was one of the deceased worker’s employers and it subscribed to workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Accordingly, Mr. Casados’ family members were barred from bringing a suit against Port Elevator, and the jury verdict in their favor was overturned.