Burkett v. Welborn

In Burkett v. Welborn, 42 S.W.3d 282, 287 (Tex. App.--Texarkana 2001, no pet.), Kenneth Burkett was injured while performing work on a trailer home owned by his employer, but located on land owned individually by Rosalie Welborn, the sole-shareholder of the corporation employing Burkett. Id. at 285. Welborn was also employed as the president of the corporation. Id. Burkett received workers' compensation benefits as an employee of the corporation, and later brought a premises liability claim against Welborn. Id. at 286. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Welborn, ruling that Burkett's recovery under workers' compensation was a bar to further recovery. Id. On appeal, Welborn argued that the exclusive remedy available to Burkett against his co-employee is recovery of workers' compensation benefits. Id. at 288. In addressing this argument, the court noted that the exclusive remedy provision bars recovery against a co-employee only where the employer is legally responsible for the conduct under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Id. at 288-89. The court explained that although the corporation was responsible for the trailer home on Welborn's property, this did not "in itself distinguish her from the duties of a property owner," owed to an invitee. Id. at 289. The court determined that the employer would not be responsible for Welborn's acts or omissions as a property owner. Id. On that basis, the court held that the exclusive remedy provision did not bar Burkett's claim against Welborn and reversed the trial court's summary judgment granted in favor of Welborn. Id. at 290.