Arnold & Placek, P.C. today obtained a dismissal of all of a plaintiff’s claims for death benefits against Texas Mutual in Harris County Probate Court. The claimant originally filed for workers’ compensation death benefits after the decedent was killed when he fell from a ladder while cleaning gutters at a residence. Texas Mutual disputed the claim on the basis that the decedent was not in the course of employment to Texas Mutual’s policyholder, but rather was employed by a co-worker’s side business which performed handyman services. At the time of the accident, the decedent was performing those services while working on the residential premises of the policyholder’s owner. Texas Mutual prevailed at the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
After the claimant appealed to the probate court, Arnold & Placek filed a plea to the jurisdiction on behalf of Texas Mutual, arguing that the probate’s court is limited to only certain matters related to the decedents estate. Arnold & Placek further argued that the judicial review action, which by law can only be brought by the purported beneficiary, was wholly unrelated to any claim by the estate– therefore, the probate court had no jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claims against Texas Mutual. The court agreed and dismissed all the claims against the insurer. The probate court litigation was handled by Scott Placek, Kyle Jones and Jonathan Chaltain. Kyle Jones argued the plea the jurisdiction for Texas Mutual.