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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The facts are largely undisputed. Chad Hennings was a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys Football from 1992 through March of 2001. In October 2000, he suffered a neck injury during a game. Drs. Andrew Dossett and Dan Cooper, the team physicians, evaluated the injury. Following several MRI exams, they concluded that Hennings had sustained an injury to his spinal cord at the C3-4 level. The third and fourth segment of a cervical disc had degenerated and were pressing on his spinal column. In November 2000, he underwent surgery for cervical fusion at the C3-4 disc space. Upon release from the hospital, Hennings had to wear a neck brace for six weeks and was unable to play for the remainder of the season. The Cowboys notified the National Football League that Hennings was on the injured reserve list as of Nov. 8, 2000, and estimated that it would take six months for him to regain “game condition.” Cooper certified this estimate. In January 2001, Hennings began rehabilitation and working out in the team weight room. Following consultation with his doctor and family, Hennings decided to retire in June 2001. He testified that he was not prohibited from playing in the NFL but that he chose not to return because of the risk of injury. He continued working with a physical therapist for eight weeks after he was released from Dossett’s care upon his retirement. The team paid his medical expenses in the total amount of $38,921.98. At the time of trial, Hennings had not seen a doctor in two years. On March 7, 2001, however, the Cowboys terminated Hennings’ contract and issued a Notice of Termination letter to the NFL. The notice indicated that the reason for termination was that his “skill or performance [had] been unsatisfactory as compared to that of other players competing for positions on the Club’s roster.” Hennings received two payments from the team after his termination: $87,500 as severance pay based on his years in the league, and $225,000 as provided by the “injury-protection clause” of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. Because Hennings believed that he was entitled to lifetime medical benefits under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, his medical benefits having expired when his employment contract with the Dallas Cowboys ended, Hennings filed an application for compensation benefits. An administrative judge determined after a contested case hearing that Hennings could pursue workers’ compensation benefits even though he received benefits under a professional athlete’s contract and collective bargaining agreement. Gulf Insurance Co. appealed to a Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission appeals panel, which affirmed the decision of the administrative judge. Gulf Insurance then filed suit in the 393rd Judicial District of Denton County, seeking judicial review of the panel’s decision. After a trial, a jury found that Hennings was disabled as the result of a compensable injury and that the benefits available under his contract and collective bargaining agreement were not equal to or greater than the benefits available under the act. Gulf Insurance again appealed, while Hennings appealed the portion of the trial court’s judgment that limited his temporary income benefits to 15 weeks. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. Texas Labor Code �406.095, which pertains to professional athletes, provides: “A professional athlete employed under a contract for hire or a collective bargaining agreement who is entitled to benefits for medical care and weekly benefits that are equal to or greater than the benefits provided under this subtitle may not receive benefits under this subtitle and the equivalent benefits under the contract or collective bargaining agreement. An athlete covered by such a contract or agreement who sustains an injury in the course and scope of the athlete’s employment shall elect to receive either the benefits available under this subtitle or the benefits under the contract or agreement.” To implement �406.095, The Texas Department of Insurance’s division of workers’ compensation adopted Rule 112.402(a), which provided that: “A professional athlete employed by a franchise with workers’ compensation insurance coverage and subject to the Texas Labor Code, �406.095, shall elect to receive either the benefits available under the Act or the equivalent benefits available under the athlete’s contract or collective bargaining agreement. The election shall be made not later than the 15th day after the athlete sustains an injury in the course and scope of employment. If the athlete fails to make an election, the athlete will be presumed to have elected the option which provides the highest benefits.” Moreover, Rule 112.402(a) provided that: “Medical care available to a professional athlete subject to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) . . . is equal to or greater than medical benefits under the Act if . . . (1) the athlete is entitled to all health care reasonably required by the nature of the work-related injury as and when needed, including all health care that: (A) cures or relieves the effects naturally resulting from the work-related injury; (B) promotes recovery; or (C) enhances the ability of the employee to return to or retain employment; and (2) the employer’s liability for health care is not limited or terminated in any way by the contract or collective bargaining agreement.” Relying on Rule 112.402(a), Hennings argued that he was not required to make an election because the medical benefits provided by his contract were not equal to or greater than the lifetime medical benefits provided under the act. The court, however, reached the opposite conclusion and found that because Hennings failed to make an election, he was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because the Cowboys medical benefits that he received following his injury were greater than the weekly workers’ comp benefits that he would have received in place of the contractual benefits. Thus, the court stated, Hennings received $225,000 in “injury protection benefits” and medical expenses of $38,921.98 by virtue of his contract with the Dallas Cowboys and a collective bargaining agreement under the NFL. Having received those benefits, he cannot now recover workers’ compensation benefits as well. OPINION:Vance, J.; Vance and Reyna, JJ. DISSENT:Gray, C.J. “By definitions adopted under the commission’s regulations, the benefits do not equal or exceed the benefits of the Act if they are limited or terminated in any way by the contract or Collective Bargaining Agreement. Hennings’ contract benefits are so limited. Therefore, by definition he was not even put to an election.”

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