Austin court of appeals may be close to deciding fate of SIBs rule
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin has signaled that it may be on the verge of issuing its long-awaited decision in the challenge to the validity of the Division’s rule on Supplemental Income Benefits. The validity challenge, styled Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation v. Accident Fund Insurance Company of America and Texas Cotton Ginners’ Trust, has been at the court of appeals since February 12, 2021.
The case began when Accident Fund (represented by this firm) and TCGT filed petitions for declaratory relief in Travis County district court, challenging the validity of the SIBs rule. The carriers argued that the Division exceeded its rule-making authority because the rule is inconsistent with the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act – specifically, the rule permits a worker to qualify for SIBs even if the worker does not meet any of the three criteria for SIBs required by the Act. Travis County district judge Maya Guerra Gamble agreed with the carriers, held the rule invalid, and enjoined the Division from applying it. But the Division appealed, and the appeal has stayed the trial court’s ruling for almost two years.
In a letter this month, the court of appeals notified the parties that the cause is set for submission on briefs on February 1, 2023. That could mean that the court’s decision will issue on that date or soon thereafter.