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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Michael Hulshouser injured his lower back at work in 1998. When he sought medical treatment, he told his doctor he also suffered from a hernia injury. In May 1999, the Texas Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund denied his application for benefits on the hernia condition, though the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission, on appeal, allowed for compensation. Hulshouser had surgery in November 1999 to repair the hernia condition. Afterwards, Hulshouser began suffering from chronic depression. He sought compensation from the fund for that condition, as related to the hernia condition. The fund denied compensation, but, again, the commission allowed it. Hulshouser then filed suit against the fund, alleging bad faith in its handling of his claim and for Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Insurance Code violations. He claimed the delay caused by the fund’s improper determinations resulted in permanent disability and pain that wouldn’t have happened if treatment had been timely. He also claimed that the fund’s delay in paying his hospital bills resulted in Hulshouser’s loss of credit. The trial court granted summary judgment for the fund on the ground that the exclusivity provision of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act barred the claim for common-law damages related to the hernia condition. In a second order, the trial court dismissed all but one of Hulshouser’s remaining claims, on the ground that he had failed to exhaust administrative remedies. Now, Hulshouser appeals only the first order. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court explains that under the TWCA, a “compensable injury” is one that arises out of an in the course and scope of employment. A compensable injury may also apply to an “extension injury,” which is one occurring in the probable sequence of events and arising from the compensable injury. Where disability or death results from medical treatment instituted to cure or relieve an employee from the effects of his injury, it is regarded as having been proximately caused by the injury and is compensable under a claim for workers’ compensation. The court also confirms that the Texas Supreme Court held in Aranda v. Insurance Co. v. N. America, 748 S.W.2d 210 (Tex. 1988), that the exclusivity provision of the TWCA does not bar a claim against a carrier for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing or intentional misconduct in the procession of a compensation claim. The court reads Aranda as limiting recognition of a bad-faith cause of action in this case. Plainly, the fund’s alleged breach of its duty of good faith must be separate from the compensation claim and that breach must produce an independent injury, the court finds. It was undisputed here that the compensable hernia-related damages included those stemming directly from the allegedly worsened hernia injury, complications from delayed surgery and increased impairment. In contrast, the bad-faith cause of action in Aranda was one in which the plaintiff sought damages resulting from the delay in payment, e.g., loss of credit and reputation. “In the instant case, the damages at issue directly related to the hernia condition, and thus any delay by the Fund did not produce an”independent injury’ as that term is used in Aranda.” OPINION:O’Neill, J.; O’Neill, FitzGerald, and Francis, JJ.

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