Friday, September 14, 2007

True Value of a Texas Worker

Well, Texas has recently decided that plant owners will be shielded from liability by Worker's Compensation Laws if a contractor gets injured.

In Entergy Gulf States Inc. v. John Summers, the Texas Supreme Court held that "a premises owner that "undertakes to procure" work falls within the the Labor Code's definition of a general contractor, for purposes of qualifying for the exclusive-remedy defense."

This case marks a sweeping change in the ability of an injured worker to get any meaningful protection from a negligent landowner and ultimately discourages plant owners from making safety changes to reduce injuries in the first place. If there is a silver lining to the 2005 BP explosion in Texas City, it is the fact that it occurred before this ruling came out.

A sad day for Texans, but not surprising according to John Eddie Williams, a prominent Texas personal injury lawyer who was quoted in the Houston Chronicle's story today: "The court ruling followed several unsuccessful attempts in recent years by the business community to convince the Legislature to address the same issue."