Texas Employers' Ins. Ass'n v. Clauder, 380

Decision Date18 July 1968
Docket NumberNo. 380,380
Citation431 S.W.2d 579
PartiesTEXAS EMPLOYERS' INSURANCE ASSOCIATION, Appellant, v. Mildred L. CLAUDER, Appellee. . Tyler
CourtTexas Court of Appeals

Underwood, Wilson, Sutton, Heare & Berry, R. A. Wilson, Amarillo, for appellant.

John W. Warner, Pampa, for appellee.

DUNAGAN, Chief Justice.

This is a workmen's compensation suit. Texas Employers' Insurance Association, appellant, brought this suit in the 31st Judicial District Court of Gray County, Texas, to set aside an award of the Industrial Accident Board granting appellee, Mildred L. Clauder, death benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Act. Appellee filed a cross-action on behalf of herself to recover death benefits and on behalf of the estate of her deceased husband, James Louis Clauder, to recover medical expenses incurred. The case was submitted to a jury on special issues. Upon te findings of the jury the court rendered judgment in favor of appellee for recovery of death benefits, funeral expenses and certain medical expenses incurred during her deceased husband's lifetime.

The controlling question as we see it is whether the injuries, which the jury found caused Mr. Clauder's death, were suffered by him in the course of his employment.

On November 22, 1965, James Louis Clauder, received injuries in an automobile collision which resulted in his death on December 10, 1965. Upon the date of his injury, he was employed by Phillips Petroleum Company and was working at Phillips' North Plant located between Pampa and Lefors. The injuries which the jury found to have been the cause of Mr. Clauder's death were received in an automobile collision when the car which he was driving collided with a vehicle being driven by Dale Gallaher, general manager of Windsor Servicing Company, who was in no way associated with Mr. Clauder's employer.

The access roads to Phillips' North Plant are identified in the record as A, B and C. Both Roads A and C intersect Road B. Road A is the most direct route to the north from North Plant to Road B and Road C would be the most direct route to Road B for southwardbound traffic. Road B is shown to be an oil field road leading from the Pampa-Lefors Road to the Lefors-Bowers City Road. Road C is also shown to be an oil field road which runs in front of Phillips' North Plant to the old Wilcox warehouse and which intersects with both the Lefors to Pampa Highway and the Farm-to-Market Road between Lefors and Bowers City. Road A, an oil field road, runs generally north and south between Road B and Road C, intersecting with both.

The property upon which Roads A, B and C traverse is owned by Mrs. Inez Carter. She owned two sections of land of which a small portion, between 20 and 30 acres, Phillips held by surface lease. There were no county road numbers for these roads and no fences along these roads. These roads, as all other oil field roads in that area, were maintained by the county and used by the public generally.

Roads A, B and C were used by anyone with business involving any of the many companies which had leases in the area or with ranchers in the area. In addition to Phillips, several other oil companies had operations in that area. Among them are Sun, Mobil, Texaco, Humble, Tennyco, Sinclair, Cree, Gulf, Cities Service, Baldridge and Dunigan. The employees of these companies used Roads A, B and C as means of access from their respective places of work.

The accident in question occurred approximately one-half mile from North Plant on Road B and approximately fifteen feet north of its intersection with Road A.

Mr. Clauder was a long-time employee of Phillips Petroleum Company and in the month of November, 1965, which was the month of the accident, was working at Phillips' North Plant. He was a combination operator, who is normally a relief man. He relieves for vacations and sick time, and one day a week he relieves when the regular operators have finished their shifts. On the day when he is not serving as an operator, his work will infrequently take him away from the plant, but this will be in a company pickup, on company time, and for a specific task he is directed to perform. On the day he serves as operator, however, his duties are solely at the plant. The plant was surrounded by a fence. There were two drips located perhaps 75 feet beyond the fence, which the operator would reach by walking, but, except for this, the operator's work would be done altogether within the plant fence and he had no duties which would take him away from the plant or involve the use of an automobile.

On the day the accident occurred, Mr. Clauder had worked as an operator, so his work had been altogether at the plant. Upon being relieved by another employee, Mr. Clauder left for home in his own personal car, so, at the time of the accident, he was driving his own personal automobile from Phillips' North Plant, where he was employed, to his home. Phillips did not provide housing at the plant and so employees working at the plant required transportation of some kind to get them to the plant. However, Phillips did not furnish transportation; it did not pay for transportation; and it exercised no control over the means of transporation or the route followed. These were matters which Mr. Clauder determined. Nor was Mr. Clauder paid for the time spent in going to and from the plant. His pay period started and ended at the plant.

At the conclusion of the evidence, appellant presented its motion for directed verdict upon the grounds that there was no issue of fact raised with respect to course of employment and that as a matter of law, under the record made, the injuries and resulting death were not compensable under the Act. Appellant's motion was overruled.

In answer to Special Issue No. 5, 1 the jury found that at the time the accidental injuries received by the deceased occurred, he was acting within the course of his employment for Phillips Petroleum Company. Appellant presented its motion for judgment non obstante veredicto which was, by the trial court, likewise overruled . By appropriate points of error, appellant contends here that as a matter of law the injuries and resulting death of Mr. Clauder were not compensable under the Workmen's Compensation Act and the trial court erred in overruling its motions for directed verdict and for judgment non obstante veredicto. Appellant further contends that the jury's finding in answer to Special Issue No. 5 is so against the overwhelming weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be clearly wrong. Other points of error (unnecessary to decide in view of our holding) relate to the trial court overruling appellant's objections to the court's charge, the exclusion of evidence and the allowance of recovery for medical and hospital expenses incurred during Mr. Clauder's life.

It is our view that there is no evidence in the record justifying the submission of Special Issue No. 5, and that the trial court erred in refusing the motion for directed verdict.

Under the Texas Workmen's Compensation Act, the term 'injury sustained in the course of employment,' excluding certain exceptions not here relevant, includes 'all other injuries of every kind and...

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3 cases
  • Texas Compensation Ins. Co. v. Matthews
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • December 6, 1973
    ...v. Casualty Reciprocal Exchange, 82 S.W.2d 1088 (Tex.Civ.App.--Eastland 1935, writ ref'd) and Texas Employers' Ins. Ass'n v. Clauder, 431 S.W.2d 579 (Tex.Civ.App.--Tyler 1968, writ ref'd n.r.e.). These decisions cannot properly be interpreted as controlling authority for restricting the acc......
  • Flores v. EMPLOYERS'FIRE INS. CO. OF SAN ANTONIA, TEXAS
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • August 22, 1972
    ...1963); Dishman v. Texas Employers' Ins. Ass'n., 440 S.W.2d 727 (Tex.Civ.App., 1969), writ ref'd n. r. e; Texas Employers' Ins. Ass'n. v. Clauder, 431 S.W.2d 579 (Tex.Civ.App., 1968), writ ref'd n. r. e., and into the bright sunlight of "portal to portal" coverage, see Cudahy Packing Co. v. ......
  • U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co. v. Harris
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • December 28, 1972
    ...implied approved of his employer. American General Insurance v. Coleman, 157 Tex. 377, 303 S.W.2d 370 (1957); Texas Employers' Insurance Association v. Clauder, 431 S.W.2d 579 (Tex.Civ.App., Tyler, 1968, In Texas General Indemnity Company v. Bottom, supra, the Supreme Court, in construing t......

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