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Appellant Scott A. Lukes applied for occupational disability retirement benefits through the Employees Retirement System of Texas (“ERS”). After the ERS Board of Trustees (the “Board”) denied his claim, Lukes filed suit in district court seeking judicial review of the Board’s interpretation of “occupational disability.” See Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. � 811.001(12) (West Supp. 2001). The district court dismissed Lukes’s case for want of jurisdiction and denied his application for writ of mandamus. Lukes appeals the district-court judgment by eight issues, claiming that there are both statutory and constitutional grounds for jurisdiction and, alternatively, that the district court erred in denying his application for writ of mandamus. We will reverse and remand.


On July 14, 1992, while employed by the Texas Department of Human Services, Lukes sustained an injury to his back as a result of lifting and carrying a box of training manuals. Lukes had prior back injuries that had required surgeries in 1984 and 1985. He applied to ERS for occupational disability retirement benefits on April 29, 1993. ERS’s executive director denied his claim on the grounds that this particular injury was an “aggravation of a pre-existing injury” and that it did not fall within the definition of “occupational disability” found in Texas Government Code section 811.001(12). Id. *fn1 Lukes commenced the appeal procedure and his case was referred by the executive director to an administrative law judge who, following a hearing, issued a proposal for decision recommending that Lukes’s claim be denied. *fn2 The Board adopted the proposal for decision and issued a final order on November 15, 1994 denying Lukes’s claim for occupational disability retirement benefits. See id. � 814.204(d).

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