An appeal court in Texas on Wednesday denied the employer's negligence in a personal injury case involving four workers in a single accident and found that four plaintiffs were not on duty at the time of the accident.
At the time of the wreck, an employee of Ringo Drilling of LP and Ringo Management Company LLC transported three co-workers from a convenience store to Ringo's drilling rig site in Throckmorton County, Texas. The workers later filed a lawsuit against the driver and the employer claiming that the accident was caused by the driver's negligence and that Ringo was "directly responsible for the careless employment, training and detention" of the driver, according to documents in Wheeler v. Free, filed in the Texas Court of Appeal, Eleventh District of Eastland, Texas.
Ringo requested a summary judgment stating that it was a subscriber to the employee's compensation insurance at the time of the accident and thus prevented from being sued due to exclusive remedies under Texas law. The district court sentenced Ringo in favor, but it did not state the grounds for its decision, according to the verdict.
The Court of Appeal confirmed and wrote that whether the employees "are covered by the law's exclusive remedy provision depends on the way in which (state workers law) defines the scope and extent of employment" and that the workers were not at work at the time of the accident.
"Ringo's management did not know that (the driver) was driving any crew members in his personal vehicle at the time of the accident. Thus, the (alleged) negligence was not related to his job, and Ringo had no control over … behavior at the time of the accident.