Texas Court Allows $70M Judgment in Workers’ Comp Case to Stand

December 16, 2009

A Texas court in San Antonio has affirmed the jury award of $70 million plus interest in a workers’ compensation case brought against Discover Property & Casualty Insurance Company, a St. Paul Travelers Insurance subsidiary, and the claims adjuster JI Specialty Services Inc.

A jury found for the plaintiff, Charles Tate, in a Dec. 1 verdict in Charles Tate vs. Discover Property & Casualty Company and JI Specialty Services Inc., a case in which Discover had denied supplemental income benefits to Tate after he was injured when he fell from a ladder at work.

The jury awarded $50 million in damages plus more than $491,000 in pre-judgment interest and attorneys’ fees of $20 million, in addition to court costs and attorneys’ fees of $2.5 million if the case is appealed.

The underlying case was described previously in an opinion filed June 24, 2009, by the 45th Judicial District Court in Bexar County, Texas, which at that time remanded the case back to the trial court for a jury trial.

According to the appeals court:

“Charles Tate, a maintenance mechanic, was injured during the course of his employment when he fell from a ladder. Tate sought workers’ compensation benefits from Discover, his employer’s insurance carrier. While Discover ultimately agreed that Tate’s injury was compensable, it rejected two of his applications for supplemental income benefits because it did not believe he was participating in a full-time vocational rehabilitation program. Tate initiated a contested case hearing in which he was successful. Discover appealed to an appeals panel of the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (“DWC”). The DWC panel affirmed the case hearing officer’s rulings that Tate was entitled to receive second and third quarter supplemental income benefits.”

The final judgment on the jury award was filed Dec. 14 in the 225th Judicial District Court in Bexar County, Texas, Cause No. 2008C121040.

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