Simpson: No Employee Status under the Texas Workers Compensation Act

Simpson v. Empire Truck Lines, Inc., No. 08-40410 (5th Cir. June 11, 2009) (Jones, Elrod, Guirola) Empire Trucking entered into a lease with Rodgers Trucking for Rodgers to transport goods for Empire.  Rodgers supplied the tractor-trailer and two drivers, including Simpson, for Empire.  The parties' lease stated, "Neither Contractor, nor its employees are to [sic] considered employees of [Empire] at any time under the circumstances for any purpose."

Simpson was seriously injured when Rodgers fell asleep at the wheel and he filed suit against Empire under the Texas Workers Compensation Act alleging that he was a statutory employee of Empire under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  The trial court determined that Simpson was not Empire's statutory employee and Simpson appealed.

The Fifth Circuit upheld the district court.  It reasoned that since he did not set forth any actual facts of an employment relationship with Empire and the parties' lease disclaimed Empire's employment status, he did not qualify to claim any benefits under the statute.