NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.
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In Denham v. Texas Mutual Ins. Co., the deceased employee tested positive for marijuana. 2015 WL
4389286 (Tex. App.–Amarillo, July 15, 2015). The carrier denied the claim based on intoxication.
The Appeals Panel upheld the denial and the employee’s beneficiary filed suit for judicial review.
In the trial court, the carrier filed a no-evidence motion for summary judgment contending that the
beneficiary had failed to present any evidence that the employee was not intoxicated. The
beneficiary responded with an affidavit from a doctor challenging the validity of the positive test
results. The court held that such evidence does not rebut the presumption of intoxication.
According to the court, the rebuttable presumption of intoxication was raised by the positive drug
test results regardless of whether the results were founded on medically and toxicologically sound
theory. Once the presumption of intoxication was raised, evidence was required that the deceased
employee was not intoxicated, such as an affidavit from his passenger that he had the normal use
of his mental and physical faculties. No such evidence was provided. Therefore, the court of
appeals upheld the trial court’s judgment in favor of the carrier.