Injured professor may sue campus police for negligence


A trial court correctly ruled that a Texas nursing professor didn’t even have to file a workers’ compensation claim before a campus police officer civilly sued after the woman was hit by a cruiser in a school parking lot, an appeals court ruled.

The Texas Court of Appeals, Thirteenth District, on Thursday affirmed a trial judge’s decision denying a move by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to dismiss Rita Oteka’s personal injury lawsuit for failing to exhaust her administrative remedies before she did not go to the civil courts.

Mrs. Oteka was injured in May 2019 after being hit by a university police vehicle while walking through a parking lot after attending a school graduation ceremony.

The university, a confident employer, has me. Oteka informed about workers’ coverage, but Ms. Oteka said she would use private insurance.

The university then denied comp coverage, according to the ruling.

Mrs. Oteka sued for negligence in December 2020 and the university argued that Ms. Oteka failed to exhaust her exclusive remedy under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act and that jurisdiction should lie with the state workers’ division, not a trial court.

The insurer only accepted coverage after Ms. Oteka filed her negligence suit and two and a half years after the incident.

Mrs. Oteka claimed that she was not in the course and scope of her duty when she was hit by the police car in the parking lot on graduation day.

The trial court agreed with Ms. Oteka agreed and the university appealed.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the trial judge had correctly determined Ms. Oteka’s lawsuit is not based on whether she is eligible for comp benefits and that she was not required to exhaust her administrative remedies before the Division of Workers’ Compensation before filing a civil suit.