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At a Glance:
Title:
Buckingham v. Eitel
Date:
March 25, 1999
Citation:
988 S.W.2d 440
Court:
1st COA – Houston
Status:
Published Opinion

Buckingham v. Eitel

Court of Appeals of Texas,

Houston (1st Dist.).

Fredrick E. WATKINS, Appellant,

v.

DIVERSITECH CORPORATION, Appellee.

No. 01–98–01262–CV.

|

March 25, 1999.

Attorneys & Firms

*440 Kurt Arbuckle, Houston, for Appellant.

Dwayne Richard Day, Houston, for Appellee.

Panel consists of Justices NUCHIA.

OPINION

ADELE HEDGES, Justice.

Appellant, Fredrick E. Watkins, sued appellee, Diversitech Corporation. The trial court granted appellee’s motion for summary judgment. In two issues presented, Watkins contends that: (1) the trial court erred in rendering summary judgment on his claim of wrongful discharge under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act and (2) the trial court erred in rendering summary judgment on his common-law claim of wrongful discharge. We affirm.

Background

Watkins filed suit against Diversitech, his former employer, alleging that he was discharged for filing a claim under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. TEX. LAB.CODE ANN. § 451.001 (Vernon 1996).1 In the alternative, Watkins alleged that his termination was wrongful under the common law. It is undisputed that Diversitech was a nonsubscriber under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper only when a movant establishes that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Johnson, 891 S.W.2d at 644.

Texas Workers’ Compensation Act

Diversitech moved for summary judgment on Watkin’s Id. at 56.

Watkins argues that his claim can be distinguished from TEX. LAB.CODE ANN. § 451.001(3) (Vernon 1996).

Watkins contends that his original claim against Diversitech was brought under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act because the Act sets forth specific principles governing an employee’s suit against a nonsubscribing employer. Hodge v. BSB Investments, Inc., 783 S.W.2d 310 (Tex.App.—Dallas 1990, writ denied), to the extent that they held that an employee could assert a wrongful discharge claim against an employer who did not subscribe to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. Kirkgard and Hodge were in the same position as Watkins.

Based on the clear mandate in Bouchet, Diversitech’s summary judgment was proper on this ground.

We overrule issue one.

Common Law

Watkins contends that there should be a common-law cause of action for wrongful termination against a nonsubscribing employer who discharges an employee for making a claim against that employer for personal injuries sustained on the job. Watkins points out that Bouchet will encourage employers to become nonsubscribers.

Watkins acknowledges that he does not come within any of the statutory or common-law exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine, but asks this court to recognize this cause of action based on public policy considerations. We decline to do so at this time on these facts.

We overrule issue two.

We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Footnotes

1

§ 451.001. Discrimination Against Employees Prohibited

A person may not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee because the employee has:

(1) filed a workers’ compensation claim in good faith;

(2) hired a lawyer to represent the employee in a claim;

(3) instituted or caused to be instituted in good faith a proceeding under Subtitle A; or

(4) testified or is about to testify in a proceeding under Subtitle A.

(footnote omitted).

End of Document
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