January 22, 2019
Petition for Review from the Court of Appeals for the First
District of Texas
Justice Brown delivered the opinion of the Court. Justice
Busby did not participate in the decision.
Jeffrey V. Brown, Justice.
case we consider whether the 45-day deadline to seek judicial
review of a decision by a Division of Workers'
Compensation appeals panel is jurisdictional. The trial court
granted a defendant's plea to the jurisdiction and
dismissed a judicial-review claim that had been filed after
the 45-day deadline. The court of appeals reversed, holding
that while the 45-day deadline is mandatory, it is not
jurisdictional. For the reasons below, we agree with the
court of appeals and affirm.
March 17, 2012, Santiago Chicas was doing yard work at the
home of Peyton Waters, Jr., when he fell from a ladder and
sustained fatal injuries. Waters was the majority owner of
Spartan Equipment and Supply, Inc., where Santiago was
employed. Santiago's wife, Bertila Chicas (Chicas),
sought workers' compensation benefits from Spartan
Equipment's insurer, Texas Mutual Insurance Company.
After Texas Mutual disputed the claim, Chicas initiated
administrative proceedings to resolve the issue at the Texas
Department of Insurance, Division of Workers'
the administrative proceedings, a hearing officer concluded
after a contested-case hearing that Santiago was not an
employee of Spartan Equipment at the time of his injury and
therefore his injury was not compensable. Chicas appealed the
hearing officer's determinations to an appeals panel. On
January 5, 2015, the Division notified Chicas that after
review by the panel, the hearing officer's decision and
order was final. The notice also stated, consistent with
Texas Labor Code section 410.252(a), that "[i]f you are
not satisfied with this decision and desire to have the
dispute resolved in court, then you must file a lawsuit in
the appropriate district court not later than the 45th
day after the date on which the Division of Workers'
Compensation mailed the parties the decision."
while the administrative proceedings were still pending,
Chicas had filed a wrongful-death suit in probate court
against Spartan Equipment and others. On February 4, 2015,
well within the 45-day deadline to seek review of the
appeals-panel decision, Chicas amended her probate-court
pleadings to add Texas Mutual as a defendant, seeking
judicial review of the administrative decision. Six months
later, Texas Mutual filed a plea to the jurisdiction and
argued that the probate court could not exercise jurisdiction
over a judicial review that had no relationship to the
administration of an estate. The probate court granted Texas
days after the probate court dismissed her claims, Chicas
again filed suit against Texas Mutual but in district court,
"seek[ing] judicial review of the Appeals Panel
Decision." Texas Mutual filed another plea to the
jurisdiction, asserting (1) that the 45-day deadline to seek
judicial review of an appeals-panel decision is
jurisdictional and (2) because Chicas filed suit in the
district court after the deadline had passed, that court
lacked jurisdiction. The district court granted Texas
Mutual's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed
Chicas's claims against it in their entirety.
appealed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the
45-day deadline for filing judicial-review claims in section
410.252(a) is not a jurisdictional statutory prerequisite.
522 S.W.3d 67, 68 (Tex. App.―Houston [1st Dist.] 2017).
Therefore, it concluded that the trial court erred in
granting Texas Mutual's plea to the jurisdiction.
Id. at 74-75. The court did not address whether
Chicas's claims were timely, noting that the limitations
issue was properly left for resolution by way of a motion for
summary judgment. Id. at 75 n.4. We granted Texas
Mutual's petition for review. It is undisputed that
Chicas filed suit in district court after the 45-day deadline
had passed. So, we must determine whether Chicas's
failure to file suit before the deadline deprived the
district court of jurisdiction. See City of DeSoto v.
White, 288 S.W.3d 389, 395 (Tex. 2009) ("The
failure of a jurisdictional requirement deprives the court of
the power to act . . . ." (quoting Univ. of Tex. Sw.
Med. Ctr. at Dall. v. Loutzenhiser, 140 S.W.3d 351, 359
parties agree the 45-day deadline to seek judicial review of
an appeals-panel decision is mandatory, but "just
because a statutory requirement is mandatory does not mean
that compliance with it is jurisdictional." Id.
at 395 (quoting Albertson's, Inc. v. Sinclair,
984 S.W.2d 958, 961 (Tex. 1999)). Nearly a century ago, we
held that where a cause of action is derived from a statute,
including a suit challenging a workers' compensation
award, "strict compliance with all statutory
prerequisites is necessary to vest a trial court with
jurisdiction." Prairie View A & M Univ. v.
Chatha, 381 S.W.3d 500, 510 (Tex. 2012) (citing
Mingus v. Wadley, 285 S.W. 1084, 1087 (Tex. 1926)).
This remained the law for decades and, consistent with
Mingus, multiple courts of appeals treated the
statutory deadline for seeking judicial review of an
appeals-panel decision as mandatory and jurisdictional.
See, e.g., Tex. Workers' Comp. Comm'n v.
Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 S.W.2d 949, 952
(Tex. App.-Corpus Christi-Edinburg 1997, ...