Texas Mutual Insurance Company v. Ruttiger (Tex. 2011)(Opinion by Johnson)
FULL TEXT OF OPINION [ coming soon ]
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OPINION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS BELOW: Court of Appeals
Also see: Texas Causes of Action | 2011 Texas Supreme Court Opinions | 2011 Tex Sup Ct Per Curiams
Texas Mutual Ins. Co. v. Ruttiger,
No. 08-0751 (Tex. Aug. 26, 2011)(Opinion by Justice Phil Johnson) (Workers Compensation Act)
TEXAS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY v. TIMOTHY J. RUTTIGER;
from Galveston County; 1st district (01-06-00897-CV, 265 SW3d 651, 07-31-08)
The Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment, renders judgment in part, and remands the case to that
Justice Johnson delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, III, IV, and VI, in which Justice
Hecht, Justice Wainwright, Justice Medina, Justice Willett and Justice Guzman joined, and an opinion with
respect to Part V, in which Justice Hecht, Justice Wainwright, and Justice Medina joined. [pdf]
Justice Willett delivered a concurring opinion, in which Justice Guzman joined. [pdf]
In 1989 the Legislature enacted major amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act (Act).
TEX.LAB.CODE §§ 401.001–506.002. The amendments included significant reforms, among
were changes in how to calculate income benefits for injured workers, the amount of income benefits
workers could recover, the dispute resolution process, the addition of an ombudsman program to
provide assistance for injured workers who had disputes with insurers, and increasing sanctions for
violations of the Act. In this case, the issues presented involve, among other matters, (1) the
interaction of the current Act with the Insurance Code and the Deceptive Trade Practices Ac
(DTPA), and (2) whether the 1989 restructuring of the Act and subsequent amendments obviate the
need we found in Aranda v. Insurance Co. of North America, 748 S.W.2d 210 (Tex. 1988) to engraft
an extra-statutory cause of action for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing onto the
workers’ compensation system.
We conclude that (1) claims against workers’ compensation insurers for unfair settlement
practices may not be made under the Insurance Code, but (2) claims under the Insurance Code may
be made against those insurers for misrepresenting provisions of their policies, although in this case
there was no evidence the insurer did so.
Further, seven members of the Court would consider whether Aranda should be overruled
even though the court of appeals did not reach the issues involving the cause of action for breach
of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Four Justices would hold that Aranda should be overruled
while three would hold that it should not be. Two members of the Court would have the court of
appeals first consider the issues involving breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing before
addressing them. In accordance with these views, a majority of the Court joins in the judgment
reversing the judgment of the court of appeals and rendering judgment in part and remanding in part
for further proceedings as to the issues involving breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.
Justices Hecht, Wainwright, Medina, Johnson, Willett and Guzman join parts I, II, III, IV,
and VI of the Court’s opinion. Justices Hecht, Wainwright, Medina and Johnson join part V of the
opinion, but Justices Willett and Guzman would wait to consider the issues involving Ruttiger’s
claims that TMIC breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing until the court of appeals first
considers them. In light of the foregoing, those six justices join the Court’s judgment remanding
the case to the court of appeals for further proceedings. See Bentley v. Bunton, 94 S.W.3d 561,
607-08 (Tex. 2002).
Chief Justice Jefferson delivered a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Green and Justice Lehrmann joined.
Link to e-briefs incl. amicus briefs and responses s: TEXAS MUTUAL INS. CO. v. RUTTIGER