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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:John Summers sued Entergy Gulf States Inc. for injuries he sustained while working at Entergy’s Sabine Station plant as an employee of International Maintenance Corp. IMC had contracted with Entergy to perform construction and maintenance on Entergy’s premises. The contract referred to IMC as an “independent contractor” and “contractor,” while referring to Entergy and its affiliates as “Entergy Companies.” The portion of the contract defining IMC as an independent contractor specified that this language should not be construed to bar Entergy from raising the “Statutory Employee” defense. Entergy later sent IMC a letter, which included an addendum to the contract, providing that the parties would recognize Entergy as the statutory employer of the IMC employees � while IMC would remain the “direct employer” � in order to take advantage of a Louisiana law that shields statutory employers from tort liability. Entergy also agreed to provide workers’ compensation insurance to IMC’s Sabine plant employees in exchange for a lower contract price. Entergy obtained an insurance policy and paid the premiums. While this policy was in effect, Summers was injured at the Sabine plant. He applied for and received benefits under the policy, then sued Entergy for negligence. Entergy moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was a general contractor, and thus a deemed employer shielded from Summers’ suit under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment in Entergy’s favor. The 9th Court of Appeals reversed. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. The Texas Labor Code makes workers’ compensation benefits an employee’s “exclusive remedy” against an employer for covered work-related injuries. It defines “general contractor” as “a person who undertakes to procure the performance of work or a service, either separately or through the use of subcontractors.” A general contractor “may enter into a written agreement [with a subcontractor] under which the general contractor provides workers’ compensation” coverage to the subcontractor and the subcontractor’s employees, and such an agreement “makes the general contractor the employer of the subcontractor and the subcontractor’s employees” for purposes of the workers’ compensation laws. The only question for the court to decide was whether Entergy was a “general contractor” and thus a deemed employer under the Texas Labor Code. The court disagreed with the 9th Court of Appeals in the pending case that the current definition of subcontractor was inconsistent with a premises owner acting as general contractor. In short, the court stated that the governing Labor Code definitions of general contractor and subcontractor did not forbid a premises owner from also being a general contractor. Construing the statute according to its plain and ordinary meaning, the court stated that Entergy is a general contractor, because it “[undertook] to procure the performance of work” from IMC. That Entergy took on the task of procuring the performance of work from IMC is beyond dispute: Deposition testimony established that Entergy hired IMC to supply workers to perform maintenance, including “water and turbine-related, generator-related work,” at its Sabine Plant. Thus, Entergy was a general contractor entitled to the labor code’s exclusive-remedy defense. The fact that Entergy also owned the premises where the accident occurred was immaterial, the court stated. According, the court held that Texas Labor Code �406.123 barred Summers’ tort claims. OPINION:Willett, J., delivered the opinion of the court.

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