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At a Glance:
Title:
Bean v. Texas Mut. Ins. Co.
Date:
November 9, 2012
Citation:
09-11-00123-CV
Status:
Unpublished Opinion

Bean v. Texas Mut. Ins. Co.

Court of Appeals of Texas,

Beaumont.

Robert BEAN, Appellant

v.

TEXAS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Phillip W. Smith and Debbie K. Garrett, Appellees.

No. 09–11–00123–CV.

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Submitted on Oct. 8, 2012.

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Decided Nov. 8, 2012.

On Appeal from the 75th District Court, Liberty County, Texas, Trial Cause No. CV1003164, the Hon. Mark Morefield, Judge, presiding.

Attorneys & Firms

Abdrew P. Slania; Doyle Raizner LLP, Houston, TX, Attorneys for Appellant, Robert Bean.

Mary Barrow Nichols and Shannon S. Pounds, Texas Mutual Insurance Company, Austin, TX; Attorneys for Appellees, Phillip W. Smith and Debbie K. Garrett.

Before HORTON, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

HOLLIS HORTON, Justice.

*1 Robert Bean appeals from the trial court’s decision to dismiss his suit against the defendants in a case in which he alleged that the defendants had mishandled his worker’s compensation claim. Recent caselaw prevents Bean from pursuing his common law and statutory bad faith claims arising from the handling of a worker’s compensation insurance claim. See Tex. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ruttiger, No. 08–0751, 2012 WL 2361697, at *13, 19 (Tex. June 22, 2012). We affirm the trial court’s order dismissing Bean’s case.

Robert Bean sued Texas Mutual Insurance Company and two of its adjusters, Phillip W. Smith and Debbie K. Garrett, for damages arising from allegedly wrongful acts in handling his worker’s compensation claim. The defendants moved to dismiss Bean’s claims, arguing that he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The trial court dismissed Bean’s case, and Bean perfected an appeal.

While Bean’s case was on appeal, the Texas Supreme Court held that a worker’s compensation claimant has no cause of action against the compensation insurer under the Insurance Code for unfair settlement practices, overruling two prior opinions to the contrary. It also held that a claimant cannot assert a common law claim against the worker’s compensation insurer based on an allegation claiming the insurer had breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing. See Tex. Ins.Code Ann. § 541.061 (West 2009).

Bean’s lawsuit concerns the claims handling process; Bean did not claim that the terms of the insurance policy covering his employer had been misrepresented to his employer. See Texas Department of Insurance. See Ruttiger, 2012 WL 2361697, at *12–14.

*2 In the trial court, the defendants argued that Bean had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The defendants presented the issue before the trial court as one of exhaustion of remedies. Whether Bean exhausted his remedies, however, is subsumed within the larger issue subsequently decided by the Supreme Court in Ruttiger: whether the administrative agency’s jurisdiction is exclusive. The judicial doctrine of exhaustion of remedies is part and parcel of the exclusive jurisdiction granted to an agency by statute. See Subaru of Am., Inc. v. David McDavid Nissan, Inc., 84 S.W.3d 212, 220 (Tex.2002).

Whether an agency has exclusive jurisdiction is a question of law we review de novo. Ruttiger, 2012 WL 2361697, at *12–19. As a result, we must dismiss Bean’s suit because the trial court was without jurisdiction to hear it.

After the Texas Supreme Court issued its opinion on rehearing in Ruttiger, we invited the parties to submit briefs arguing the effect of Ruttiger on these proceedings. We provided an opportunity for Bean to reply, and asked that he identify a claim that he could assert on remand if we allowed him to replead. Bean did not respond to our request. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Ruttiger, we affirm the trial court’s order dismissing Bean’s case.

AFFIRMED.

End of Document
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