Your FREE and easy resource for all things Texas workers' compensation
At a Glance:
Title:
Payne v. Galen Hosp. Corp
Date:
March 22, 2000
Citation:
28 S.W.3d 15
Court:
Texas Supreme Court
Status:
Published Opinion

Payne v. Galen Hosp. Corp

Supreme Court of Texas.

Janis Ann PAYNE, Petitioner,

v.

GALEN HOSPITAL CORPORATION d/b/a Clear Lake Medical Center, Respondent.

No. 99–1011.

|

Decided Aug. 24, 2000.

|

Argued March 22, 2000.

Attorneys & Firms

*16 Paul F. Waldner, Vickery & Waldner, Houston, Mike Morris, Tekell Book Matthews & Limmer, Houston, for petitioner.

Richard A. Sheehy, McFall Sherwood & Sheehy, Houston, for respondent.

Opinion

Justice O’NEILL delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner injured her back while working as a hospital nurse and had a prescription filled to treat her injury at the hospital pharmacy, which provides medication only to hospital patients and employees who suffer on-the-job injuries. Petitioner suffered a severe and permanently disabling reaction to the medication, and she sued the hospital for negligence and gross negligence in filling her prescription. The parties agree that the full range of petitioner’s injuries are compensable under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and that she has received and continues to receive full compensation benefits. We must decide whether petitioner is barred by the Act’s exclusive-remedy provision from bringing common-law claims against the hospital based upon the pharmacy’s alleged negligence. We hold that petitioner’s reaction to the medication is a work-related injury for purposes of the exclusive-remedy provision and affirm the court of appeals’ judgment.

I

Background

Janis Payne was employed as a registered nurse by Galen Hospital when she injured her back. Dr. Green, a physician not associated with the hospital, treated Payne and diagnosed her as having a Toradol, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that had been on the market for less than five months. The drug’s package insert warned that it was not to be used for chronic pain and was only to be used for “a limited duration.”

Payne filled her prescription for Toradol at the hospital pharmacy. The pharmacy is not open to the public, nor is it available to hospital employees in general; it dispenses drugs only to hospital patients and employees requiring medication for on-the-job injuries. As an employee injured on the job, Payne received her medication free of charge.

Payne took vasculitis, breathing problems, cataracts, peripheral-nerve damage, joint damage, and severe depression. She is totally and permanently disabled and will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Payne has received and continues to receive workers’ compensation benefits for her back injury and for her Toradol reaction have been paid for by the hospital’s workers’ compensation carrier. She has also received payments for lost wages since she injured her back. As of September 1996, $534,802 had been paid to Payne’s healthcare providers and $87,783 had been paid directly to Payne.

Payne sued the hospital, Dr. Green, and Toradol reaction. The hospital’s workers’ compensation carrier intervened to recover payments made under the workers’ compensation policy. The hospital moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive-remedy provision bars Payne’s suit and, alternatively, that by accepting workers’ compensation benefits Payne is estopped from proceeding with her common-law claims against the hospital. The trial court granted the hospital summary judgment and dismissed the workers’ compensation carrier’s claims against the hospital. The trial court then severed the claims against the hospital, leaving only the claims against Dr. Green and the drug manufacturer, which settled.

Payne appealed the summary judgment. The court of appeals originally reversed the summary judgment, but on rehearing withdrew its original opinion and affirmed the trial court’s decision. See id. at 317.

Payne petitioned this Court for review. She argues that the Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive-remedy provision does not bar her common-law claims against the hospital because her Toradol reaction is not work-related and did not result from her employer-employee relationship with the hospital. She further argues that the election-of-remedies doctrine does not bar her common-law claims because the hospital produced no summary judgment evidence that she exercised an informed choice between her possible remedies.

We hold that Payne’s reaction to Toradol reaction, we need not consider whether the election-of-remedies doctrine bars her common-law claims.

II

Exclusive–Remedy Provision

A primary purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Act is to relieve employees injured on the job of the burden of proving their employer’s negligence and to provide them prompt remuneration for their on-the-job injuries. See LAB.CODE § 401.011(12)).

To fully effectuate the Act’s purpose to provide prompt and certain remuneration to injured employees, “course and scope” has been interpreted expansively to include additional injuries that result from treating on-the-job injuries. See id. at 886.

Drugs prescribed for on-the-job injuries are considered part of an employee’s treatment under the Act.2 See Toradol reaction resulted from treating her on-the-job back injury; therefore, her injury arose in the course and scope of her employment for compensation purposes.

Payne concedes that her reaction to Toradol reaction was an independent injury that did not occur in the course and scope of her employment for purposes of the exclusive-remedy provision, which applies only to “work-related injur[ies].” The hospital, on the other hand, contends, *19 and the court of appeals agreed, that “compensability” and “exclusivity” are coextensive, and that the recovery of benefits under the Act is the exclusive remedy against a covered employer for a compensable injury.

We have never decided whether an injury arising in the course and scope of employment for compensation purposes is necessarily “work-related” for exclusivity purposes. See Dickson v. Silva, 880 S.W.2d 785, 788 (Tex.App.—Houston [1 st Dist.] 1993, writ denied) (“The [A]ct provides the exclusive remedy for injuries employees sustain in the course of their employment.”).

Whether or not “compensability” and “exclusivity” are always and for all purposes coextensive, which we do not decide, we hold that they are coextensive here. If Payne’s Paradissis, 507 S.W.2d at 529.

Payne argues that we should not consider her Toradol. We consider these arguments in turn.

Payne claims that she was not in the course and scope of her employment when she obtained Ruiz is distinguishable and does not support Payne’s position.

Texas courts have held that the aggravation of an employee’s on-the-job injury is work-related for purposes of the exclusive-remedy provision. See Toradol prescription.

Payne next argues that the exclusivity provision should not apply because she stood in a consumer-retailer, rather than an employer-employee, relationship with the hospital when she filled her prescription. Despite Payne’s protestations to the contrary, her argument raises the dual-capacity doctrine.3 Under that doctrine, an employer normally shielded from liability by the workers’ compensation exclusive-remedy principle may become liable in tort to an employee if it occupies, in addition to its capacity as an employer, a second capacity that confers on it obligations independent of those imposed on it as an employer. See 2A A. LARSON, THE LAW OF WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION § 72.80. We have never decided whether an employee may use the dual-capacity doctrine to avoid the Act’s exclusive-remedy provision. But even if we were inclined to recognize the doctrine,4 *21 which we do not decide, it does not apply here.

The test for determining dual capacity “is not concerned with how separate or different the second function of the employer is from the first but whether the second function generates obligations unrelated to those from the first, that of employer.” LARSON, supra, § 72.80. An employee, therefore, may sue her employer in tort only if her employer’s second capacity is independent and unrelated to its status as an employer.

Here, the summary-judgment evidence establishes that the hospital only filled Payne’s prescription because it was her employer. The hospital pharmacy does not dispense drugs to the general public, and except for employees who have been injured on the job, it does not dispense medications to hospital employees. The hospital pharmacy fills prescriptions for employees only if a doctor has ordered the medication to treat a work-related injury. Before filling these prescriptions, the pharmacy verifies that the employee is a workers’ compensation claimant and that a doctor has ordered the prescription to treat a work-related injury. When an employee who has been injured on the job obtains medication for that injury at the hospital pharmacy, the pharmacy collects no money from the employee.

Because the hospital only filled Payne’s prescription because she sustained an on-the-job injury, the hospital was acting in its capacity as an employer when it filled Payne’s prescription and the dual-capacity doctrine does not apply.

III

Conclusion

We hold that Payne’s Toradol reaction is a work-related injury subject to the Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive-remedy provision. Because the Act’s exclusive-remedy provision bars Payne’s common-law claims against the hospital, the hospital was entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly, we affirm the court of appeals’ judgment.

Footnotes

1

We cite to the version of the Workers’ Compensation Act in effect when Payne sustained her original injury. See Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, 71st Leg., 2d C.S., ch. 1, 1989 Tex. Gen. Laws 1, repealed by Act of May 12, 1993, 73d Leg., R.S., ch. 269, § 5(2), 1993 Tex. Gen. Laws 987, 1273.

2

Payne argues that the hospital’s pharmacy was not treating her when it filled her prescription for Toradol, as only a medical doctor can provide treatment. Under the Act, however, drugs prescribed for on-the-job injuries are considered part of an employee’s treatment. See 408.028).

3

Payne argues that the dual-capacity doctrine has nothing to do with this case because it applies only if the employer has more than one capacity when the employee’s original injury occurs. The doctrine, however, has not been so limited. See 2A A. LARSON, THE LAW OF WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION § 72.80 (1976); see also Darensburg, 887 S.W.2d at 88 (discussing dual capacity in the context of aggravation of original work-related injury).

4

We note that Texas courts of appeals have uniformly rejected the dual-capacity doctrine. See Cohn v. Spinks Indus., Inc., 602 S.W.2d 102, 103–04 (Tex.Civ.App.—Dallas 1980, writ ref’d n.r.e.).

The majority of other jurisdictions considering the dual-capacity doctrine have rejected it as well. Most states have simply rejected the dual-capacity doctrine outright. See Deller v. Naymick, 176 W.Va. 108, 342 S.E.2d 73, 78 (1985).

Other jurisdictions have rejected the dual-capacity doctrine and adopted the dual-persona doctrine, which requires a separate legal persona. See Henning v. General Motors Assembly Div., 143 Wis.2d 1, 419 N.W.2d 551, 556 (1988).

Still other jurisdictions have rejected the dual-capacity doctrine and left the door open for the dual-persona doctrine. See Tatum v. Medical Univ. of South Carolina, 335 S.C. 499, 517 S.E.2d 706, 711–12 (App.1999).

A few jurisdictions state that they accept the dual-capacity doctrine, but use the definition of dual persona to define dual capacity. See Ryan v. Hiller, 138 N.H. 348, 639 A.2d 258, 260 (1994).

A minority of jurisdictions have adopted the dual-capacity doctrine as we have defined it. See Weber v. Armco, Inc., 663 P.2d 1221, 1226 (Okla.1983).

End of Document
Top