(CN) – The owner of a construction site can’t be sued for injuries suffered by its contract workers, the Texas Supreme Court ruled. The state high court reaffirmed a 2007 opinion for Entergy Gulf States.
Justice Green delivered the opinion that a property owner who contracts for work and provides workers’ compensation insurance to the employees is entitled to the exclusive remedy defense under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.
Entergy agreed to cover the workers’ compensation insurance costs of International Maintenance Corp. in exchange for a lower contract price to maintain the company’s power plants.
Employee John Summers was hurt while working at one of Entergy’s plants. He received workers’ compensation benefits and then sued the company for negligence. The trial court ruled in favor of Entergy, but the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the decision.
Green overturned the appeals court by focusing on the definition of a general contractor.
“A general contractor is a person who takes on the task of obtaining the performance of work,” Green wrote. “That definition does not exclude premises owners; indeed, it describes precisely what Entergy did.”
Texas lawmakers are reportedly working on bills that would blunt the impact of the decision, while industry lobbyists are pushing to stop the legislation.