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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In December 1995, Barbara Pickett suffered a back injury while performing her job duties for Molly Maid, a home cleaning service. She claimed that her back injury resulted in depression and chronic pain in her neck, arms, lower back and legs. Since 1995, Pickett was repeatedly hospitalized for attempted suicide and self-mutilation. She contended that her work-related injury aggravated pre-existing psychological conditions. Texas Mutual Insurance Co. was the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for Molly Maid. It paid income and disability benefits to Pickett for her work-related injury as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars for her health care. Beginning in 1997, Texas Mutual denied preauthorization for certain chronic pain management services related to Pickett’s psychological disorders on the basis that those medical services were not related to her compensable injuries or were not reasonable and medically necessary. Under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, Pickett was entitled to contest those denied preauthorization requests through an administrative dispute resolution procedure conducted by the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Medical Review Division. Pickett did not, however, submit any disputes concerning the denied preauthorization requests for administrative review at the commission. Beginning in 1999, Dr. Sanford Kiser, one of Pickett’s health-care providers, submitted several billing disputes to the commission for administrative review. These disputes concerned medical services that Pickett had already received and for which Texas Mutual had denied reimbursement to Kiser. The Picketts were not involved in or parties to the billing disputes between Kiser and Texas Mutual. As a result of the billing disputes, Kiser obtained three final orders two from the commission and one from the State Office of Administrative Hearings directing Texas Mutual to reimburse him. In October 1999, Texas Mutual and Pickett entered into a benefit dispute agreement. The purpose of the agreement was to determine which of Pickett’s psychological disorders were causally related to her compensable back injury. Texas Mutual and Pickett agreed that her diagnosis of major depressive disorder and pain disorder were causally related to the compensable back injury but that her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, mixed personality disorder and dissociative disorder were not related to the compensable back injury. The agreement did not address or determine what medical treatments were related to Pickett’s compensable psychological conditions, what treatments would be medically necessary and reasonable for those conditions, or what fees should be paid under the commission’s rules for treating those conditions. Therefore, Texas Mutual remained responsible for reviewing all of Pickett’s submitted medical bills and preauthorization requests to determine whether a medical treatment related to her compensable injuries or her non-compensable injuries. The agreement did not relieve Pickett or her health-care providers of their obligations to exhaust administrative remedies regarding any disputes over specific medical benefits. Two months after entering into the agreement, the Picketts sued Texas Mutual asserting violations of the Texas Insurance Code and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, breach of fiduciary duty and duty of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and negligent misrepresentation. They alleged that Texas Mutual wrongfully delayed or denied preauthorization for certain medical services and prescriptions related to Pickett’s chronic pain condition, causing physical and psychological injury to Pickett beyond the extent of her work-related injury. Eventually, because the Picketts did not obtain administrative orders from the commission that Pickett was entitled to any of the medical benefits the family claimed that Texas Mutual improperly delayed or denied, the trial court dismissed most of the Picketts’ claims for want of jurisdiction. The trial court also granted a take-nothing summary judgment against the Picketts on their claims arising from the only final administrative orders in the record: the three orders directing Texas Mutual to reimburse Kiser for medical services that Pickett had already received. The Picketts appealed. HOLDING:Affirmed. In 2001, the Texas Supreme Court decided American Motorists Insurance Co. v. Fodge, which held that a trial court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over bad faith claims arising from allegedly delayed or denied workers’ compensation benefits unless and until the worker obtains a timely, final administrative decision from the commission that the worker is entitled to the medical benefits in dispute. The Picketts asserted numerous violations of their constitutional rights from the trial court’s application of the Fodge opinion to their claims. First, they contended that the Fodge opinion established a new rule of law and, as such, could not be applied retroactively to their claims arising before the issuance of that opinion. But the court found that the Fodge opinion interpreted existing law concerning exhaustion of administrative remedies in the workers’ compensation context and did not establish a new rule of law. The court also denied the Picketts’ claim that the administrative exhaustion process required by Fodge violated their constitutional rights. The court also rejected the Picketts’ contention that the trial court had jurisdiction over their tort and statutory claims for damages other than the payment of workers’ compensation benefits. The Picketts had argued that because those claims were “not predicated on a denial of benefits,” the commission did not have exclusive jurisdiction over them. But the court stated that “the determination of whether any type of claim is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commission depends on whether the claim is based on an alleged delay or denial of a workers’ compensation benefit.” The Picketts contended that because of the large number of medical charges or claims in dispute, they should have been excused from the requirement that they exhaust their administrative remedies, because such exhaustion would be impractical. The court stated that the Picketts, however, did not fall under an exception to the exhaustion requirement. The court also rejected the Picketts’ objections to the admission of certain evidence. The court also agreed with Texas Mutual’s assertion that it is not legally responsible to the Picketts for the results of the commission’s denial of payment to Kiser in their disputes. Any dispute regarding the collection efforts by Kiser against the Picketts, the court stated, is between the Picketts and Kiser under these circumstances. OPINION:Waldrop, J.; Puryear, Waldrop and Henson, JJ.

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