As a lifelong Cowboys fan, I’m not particularly excited about this weekend’s football game. Instead, I get to offer a link to this week’s “We’re taking it all the way to the Supreme Court” case.
As luck would have it, the case happens to involves a former Dallas Cowboys player who won three Super Bowl rings with the team.
Texas Lawyer covers the case in this blog posting: “Court OKs workers’ comp for former NFL star”.
The case is Gulf Insurance Co. v. Hennings, No. 10-06-00192-CV. opinion on rehearing ((Although he had dissented from the original panel decision that had rendered judgment for the insurer — and thus may have been in greater agreement with the opinion on rehearing insofar as it reached the contrary result — Chief Justice Gray recused himself from further participation in the case on January 16, 2008. The order does not specify a reason.)) The “former NFL star” is former Cowboys defensive lineman Chad Hennings, who suffered a spine injury in 2000 that ended his season and prompted his retirement.
The dispute is over a special provision of the Texas workers’ compensation statute that — believe it or not — focuses on professional athletes. Texas Labor Code §406.095 gives a professional athlete the option to elect workers’ compensation instead of the benefits provided by their own collective bargaining agreement, so long as the workers compensation benefits are at least equal to those provided by workers compensation.
The Tenth Court originally rendered judgment in favor of the insurer but earlier this week granted rehearing and issued a new opinion largely ruling in Hennings’ favor. ((Hennings did not succeed on his cross-appeal about one adverse aspect of the judgment, which set his income-related benefits at 15 weeks rather than the maximum of 104 weeks.))
And, as Texas Lawyer reports:
Barry Hasten, a partner in Hasten & Hansen in Arlington who represents Gulf Insurance Co., the Cowboys’ insurance carrier, says that he is surprised by the 10th Court’s reversal: “Their other opinion was very straightforward.” Hasten says that on behalf of his client he will seek Texas Supreme Court review of the 10th Court’s decision.