March 15, 1993
|Mr. Alfred F. Hurley
University of North Texas
College of Osteopathic Medicine
P.O. Box 13737
Denton, Texas 76203-3737
|Letter Opinion No. 93-23
Re: Whether certain disabled individuals in a state university vocational training program are "employees" under V.T.C.S. article 8309g, (relating to workers' compensation coverage) (RQ-74)
Dear Mr. Hurley:
You have inquired as to the proper construction of V.T.C.S. article 8309g, section
1, subsection 2(C), which defines who are and who are not state employees covered under
the state's workers' compensation insurance program. Your question is whether certain
handicapped individuals referred by the Denton State School who are employed in your
Vocational Rehabilitation Center's training program are state employees for purposes of the
workers' compensation plan. We conclude that they are not.
Article 8309g, section 1, subsection 2 excludes such persons from coverage under the state employee workers' compensation plan explicitly:
(2) The word "employee" shall not include:
. . . .
(C) Persons who are at the time of injury performing
services for the federal government and who are covered by
some form of federal workers' compensation . . . ; prisoners or
inmates of a prison or correctional institution; clients or patients
of any state institution or agency.
As you note in your letter, patients of the Denton State School are "clients or patients
of [a] state institution or agency." You suggest, however, that the legislature cannot have
intended to exclude such persons as those in your vocational training program from
coverage. You suggest, in effect, that subsection 2(C) should be subject to an implicit
limiting construction such as "clients or patients of any state institution or agency, save and
except those employed by the state outside the grounds of the institution where they reside."
While there are, as you suggest, equitable arguments for such a construction, and while the
legislature may not have intended to exclude "mainstreamed" patients of state institutions
from workers' compensation coverage, since subsection 2(C) predates the practice of
mainstreaming, these arguments, regrettably, are better addressed to the legislature. In this
case, the words and meaning of the statute are plain and must be given their plain effect.
S U M M A R Y
Clients or patients of state institutions who are
participating in a state university vocational training program are not
state employees for the purposes of the state workers' compensation
program, V.T.C.S. article 8309g, section 1.
Yours very truly,
Mary R. Crouter
Assistant Attorney General