With this week’s orders, the Texas Supreme Court issued two per curiam opinions and granted two new cases for argument next spring.

New Grants

Per Curiam Opinions

The court of appeals in this case held that the Workers Compensation Act did not allow it to return this case to the Division, once it had concluded the worker’s claim had been mishandled.

In light of its recent contrary decision in American Zurich Insurance Company v. Daniel Samudio, No. 10-0554 , which allowed such remands, the Texas Supreme Court reverses and sends the matter back to the Workers Compensation Division.

This case involved the provision of the Texas Tort Claims Act that makes the state potentially liable for “special defects” on state property, which (in the Court’s words) “pose a threat to ordinary users of the roadway,” but not injuries arising from more mundane or less likely defects.

Here, the defect was a concrete guardrail, which the court of appeals concluded made the intersection so narrow that a left turn was no longer safe.

The Texas Supreme Court disagreed that “an ordinary user” would have any problem: “An ordinary user of the roadway would not be expected to miss a turn and crash through a concrete guardrail.”

With that in mind, the Court reasoned its way to a fairly robust rule against future suits involving guardrails on Texas roads:

Guardrails, by their nature, define the roadway, they do not impede it. We therefore hold that guardrails placed in accordance to plan cannot constitute a special defect under the Act.