Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
CITY OF DALLAS, A SELF-INSURED EMPLOYER, APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE
GREGORY D. THOMPSON, APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELLANT
from the 173rd District Court of Henderson County, Texas
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
T. WORTHEN CHIEF JUSTICE
an interlocutory appeal from the trial court's ruling on
City of Dallas's plea to the jurisdiction filed in
Dallas's suit for judicial review of a final decision and
order of the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of
Workers' Compensation (DWC). The plea to the jurisdiction
complains of counterclaims filed by Gregory D. Thompson, a
past employee who claimed workers' compensation benefits.
and Thompson each appeal the portions of the trial
court's ruling on Dallas's plea to the jurisdiction
that are adverse to that party. In two issues, Dallas asserts
that the trial court lacks jurisdiction over Thompson's
counterclaims because he failed to timely file them, making
the administrative rulings on his workers' compensation
claim final as a matter of law. In one issue, Thompson
asserts the trial court erred in granting Dallas's plea
to the jurisdiction as to his counterclaim for attorney's
fees. We affirm.
hearing officer determined that Thompson sustained a
compensable injury while employed by Dallas, a self-insured
employer, and ordered Dallas to pay benefits. Dallas's
administrative appeal resulted in finality of the hearing
officer's decision and order. Dallas filed suit for
judicial review of the hearing officer's determinations
and final decision of the DWC. Thompson filed counterclaims
complaining of the DWC's determination that Dallas's
notice of denial of compensability was sufficient to contest
compensability of the claimed injury and its determination
that Thompson did not have good cause for failing to file a
claim within one year of the injury. Thompson also requested
filed a plea to the jurisdiction by which it challenged the
trial court's jurisdiction over Thompson's
counterclaims. The trial court denied the plea as to
Thompson's complaints regarding sufficiency of the notice
to contest compensability and the good cause and timely
filing issues. The trial court sustained the plea as to
Thompson's counterclaim for an award of attorney's
fees. Each side filed a notice of interlocutory
to the Jurisdiction
matter jurisdiction is essential to the authority of a court
to decide a case. Tex. Ass'n of Bus. v. Tex. Air
Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 443 (Tex. 1993). A plea to
the jurisdiction challenges the trial court's authority
to determine the subject matter of a specific cause of
action. Starkey ex rel. Ragsdale v. Andrews Ctr.,
104 S.W.3d 626, 628 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2003, no pet.). If a
party believes that the plaintiff's petition does not
show jurisdiction and cannot be amended to allege
jurisdiction, the party may file a plea to the jurisdiction
at any time. Id.
subject matter jurisdiction presents a question of law, we
review the trial court's ruling on a plea to the
jurisdiction de novo. Mayhew v. Town of Sunnyvale,
964 S.W.2d 922, 928 (Tex. 1998). In reviewing a plea to the
jurisdiction, we review the pleadings and any evidence
relevant to the jurisdictional issue. Tex. Dep't of
Criminal Justice v. Miller, 51 S.W.3d 583, 587 (Tex.
2001). We accord the trial court's decision no deference.
Quick v. City of Austin, 7 S.W.3d 109, 116 (Tex.
two issues, Dallas asserts the trial court erred by not
granting the plea to the jurisdiction based on Thompson's
failure to timely file his counterclaims regarding the
sufficiency of Dallas's notice of denial of
compensability and regarding his good cause for failing to
file a claim for compensation with the DWC within one year of
the injury. Dallas argues that the trial court has no
jurisdiction because Thompson failed to seek judicial review
of his counterclaims within forty-five days after the date
the DWC mailed the appeals panel decision to the parties as
required by the labor code.
410.252 of the labor code provides that a party seeking
judicial review must file suit not later than the forty-fifth
day after the date on which the DWC mailed the party the
decision of the appeals panel. Tex. Lab. Code Ann. §
410.252 (West 2015). Dallas asserts that Thompson filed his
counterclaims twenty-two days late and therefore the trial
court does not have jurisdiction to hear the counterclaims.
Dallas relies on numerous intermediate appellate court cases
holding that the labor code's forty-five day deadline is
mandatory and jurisdictional. See e.g. Davis v. Am. Cas.
Co. of ...