X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision The existence of decedent’s rights under the common law of Texas, knowledge of those rights and the intentional waiver of those rights, are all contained in the waiver in the agreement that was signed by decedent. Thus, the waiver in the agreement signed by the decedent expresses his intent to relinquish his right to sue “clients” of his employer. FACTS:Charles Pratt worked for B&C Concrete, which was not a subscriber to the state’s workers’ compensation plan. Instead, the company offered its employees voluntary participation in an occupational accident employee welfare benefit plan, of which Pratt took advantage. The plan’s agreement, signed by Pratt, included several waivers, including one that waived all common law claims against “the Company, its successors, assigns, employees, officers, directors, shareholders, agents and clients.” In August 2003, Pratt died when he fell into a pit of toxic chemicals at work. The benefit plan paid for medical expenses and accidental death benefits. Pratt’s family then filed a personal injury suit against Pilgrim’s Pride. Pilgrim’s Pride successfully moved for summary judgment on the ground that it was a “client” of B&C and so all of the family’s claims against it were waived. The trial court agreed. On appeal, the family argues: 1. the waiver and release did not extend to a negligence claim against Pilgrim’s Pride because Pilgrim’s Pride was not a third-party beneficiary of that agreement; 2. because Pilgrim’s Pride was not a third-party beneficiary of the agreement, it was not entitled to summary judgment on the grounds of ratification, quasi-estoppel, acceptance of benefits or the doctrine of election of remedies; and 3. there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Pratt had been required to sign a new plan agreement annually in order for the waiver and release to continue in effect. HOLDING:Affirmed. The family argues Pilgrim’s Pride cannot be considered a third-party beneficiary of the agreement ,because to do so would frustrate the subrogation and assignment provisions of the agreement. They rely on MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Texas Utilities Electric Co., 995 S.W.2d 647 (Tex. 1999), saying that case created a presumption against third-party beneficiaries, that a third-party is a beneficiary only when the contract is for that party’s direct benefit and that the intention of the parties about third-party beneficiaries is controlling. The court rules the family has not interpreted MCI correctly, which turned on express language stating that the contract was only for the benefit of the contracting parties. The court instead relies on Temple EasTex Inc. v. Old Orchard Creek Partners Ltd., 848 S.W.2d 724 (Tex.App. � Dallas 1992, writ denied) and other appellate cases and concludes that the listing of the entities within the language of the waiver reveals the parties’ intent that the waiver provision extend to all of those entities. Therefore, the waiver plainly extends to “clients.” Though the family admits that Pilgrim’s Pride is a client of B&C in some respects, they say the company is not a “client” for purposes of the waiver. The court says the word “client” is not ambiguous and it includes Pilgrim’s Pride. The court rejects the family’s attempt to link the benefits plan to the group insurance policy. The plan made no reference to insurance, and it did not indicate that its term was limited in any way. It did not need to be signed every year to stay in effect, the court finds. OPINION:Lang, J.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.