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Recent State Cases of Interest - txgovernmentlaw.org

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RECENT CASES2019 Laredo Roadshow
By: Ryan HenryLaw offices of Ryan Henry, pllc1380 Pantheon way, Suite 110San Antonio, Texas 78232210-257-6357 Fax: 210-569-6494Ryan.henry@rshlawfirm.comWebsite: Rshlawfirm.com
TOMA – intentional circumvention held unconstitutional
State of Texas v. Craig Doyal,PD-0254-18(Tex. Crim. App. – February 27, 2019)Montgomery County Judge indicted – road issuesDifficult to support the provision since TOMA applies only when a quorum is present but the crime is committed when a quorum is not present.Further, the phrase “knowingly circumvent” does not focus on real-world conduct and is a catch-all provision in the abstract.Unconstitutional on its face
Texas Supreme Court holds standards in same-sex discrimination cases are distinctly different than opposite-sex standards
Alamo Heights Independent School District v. Clark, No. 16–0244, 2018 WL 1692367 (Tex. April 6, 2018).This is a workplace same-sex discrimination, harassment and retaliation case .Female co-coach was often rude, told stories of sexual escapades, would comment on Clark’s body.Clark ComplainedWas later fired for poor performance
The Court recognized same-sex discrimination cases = more complicatedTypes: 1) sexual desire, 2) general hostility to a particular gender , or 3) direct comparative evidence of treatment of both sexes.All require conduct to have more than offensive sexual connotations, but to be discriminatorybecause ofthe gender.
Wasson Interests, Ltd. vs. City of Jacksonville,17-0198, — S.W.3d. — 2018 WL 2449184 (Tex. June 1, 2018) =Gov vs. Prop:  the focus belongs on the nature of the contract, not the nature of the breach.
Long historyWaterworks developed houses around lake, leased toWassonsEviction issues2016 opinion – Gov function and prop function in contractsThis opinion
4 Part Test(1) mandatory or discretionary,(2) benefit the general public or the City's residents,(3) State's behalf(4) sufficiently related to a governmental function to render the act governmental even if it would otherwise have been proprietary.Here, Court held = Proprietary
TexSup. Ct – EDCs Do Not Have Governmental Immunity
Rosenberg Development Corp. v. Imperial Performing Arts, Inc.,No. 17-0660(Tex. – March 9, 2019).EDC had contract with performing arts group to renovateCosts exceeded contract by 10X – SuedGovernment Immunity is Common Law – court created and controlledReserved decision on statutory immunity
Statute = “not liable for damages arising from the performance of a governmental function ...” and“[f]or purposes of Chapter 101, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a Type B corporation is a governmental unit and the corporation’s actions are governmental functions.Immunity from liability, not governmental liabilityChief Justice Hecht wrote separatelyMay not collect on Judgement
Tex. Sup. Ct – Rebuild of Water Dam is discretionary = immunity
Tarrant Regional Water District v Johnson, et al.,17-0095 (Tex. April 12, 2019)District rebuilt dam in 2003Plaintiff walked across, slipped, drownedFamily sued = erosion of bed was never returned to original stateDam engineer knew of erosion = decided to allow it to protectkiaks
TTCA focus = preservation of the government’s discretionary decision-making authority, rather than on the often-useful but extratextual distinction between design and maintenance."Public Works" alleged = Natural River BedAnalyzing the riverbed as if it were a structural public work not proper analysis"The notion that the District had a legal obligation to keep this natural “public work” at a constant depth beneath an opaque and running body of water is unsupportable. "
Texas Supreme Court held the City of Dallas’ amendment to its pension plan did not violate the Texas Constitution.
Eddington v. Dallas Police & Fire Penson Systems, et al.,17-0058(Tex. March 8, 2019)The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (“the System”) amended its pension plan to reduce the interest rate paid on Deferred Retirement Option Plan (“DROP”) accounts.Lowering the interest rate  as-yet unearned DROP payments  does not affect a benefit accrued or granted to employees.Interest already credited to DROP accounts is not impacted. The reduction in DROP account interest isprospective only.
Texarkana Court of Appeals holds county court at law has jurisdiction to hear PIA mandamus against city
Kenneth Craig Miller v. Gregg County,  , 06-17-00091-CV, 2018 WL 1386264 (Tex. App.—Texarkana Mar. 20, 2018, no pet.)Miller filed a suit under the PIA seeking a writ of mandamus in County Court at Law #2The PIA states “A suit filed by a requestor under this section must be filed in a district court for the county in which the main offices of the governmental body are located.” TEX. GOV’T CODE ANN. § 552.321(b) (West 2017).After a statutory construction analysis, the Texarkana Court held §552.321(b) does not deprive a county court at law of its concurrent jurisdiction under §25.0003(a).
Fort Worth Court of Appeals holds candidate on ballot for two separate offices resigned second office by law, not the first, once taking oaths
City of Forest Hill, et al. v.MichielleBenson, et. al.,02-17-00346-CV(Tex. App. – Fort Worth, July 12, 2018).Benson on ballot for both City Council and Library Board at same time. Won bothIncompatible offices, but which one controlsElection Code  §201.025 (1stoffice vacated) does not apply if elected on same dayElection Code §141.033 -  the invalidity of an application on ballot in same election control.
5th Court of Appeals holds mandatory third-party venue provision controls over TTCA venue provisionPioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc. v. Texas Department of Transportation, 05-17-01245-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, July 20, 2018).
Car accident where Pioneer tractor involved.Pioneer brought third-party claims against TxDOTDid not sue in TravisSection 15.062(a) of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code notes mandatory venue for third-party claims, but §101.102(a) notes a form of mandatory venue for TTCA claimsCourt held §15.062(a) controls
Get You Affidavits Correct
City of Dallas v. Lamb, 05-16-01506-CV, 2017 WL 5987777 (Tex. App.—Dallas Dec. 4, 2017, no pet.)Intersection near buildingCity of San Antonio v. Torres, 04-17-00309-CV, 2017 WL 5472537 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Nov. 15, 2017, no pet.)Looking both ways before entering intersection after STOP!CompareCity of San Antonio v. Reyes, 04-16-00748-CV, 2017 WL 3701772 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Aug. 23, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.). Good affidavit of approaching intersection = immunity
Honorable Mentions
State of Texas ex Rel. George Darrell Best v Paul Reed Harper, 16-0647, — S.W.3d – (Tex. July 29, 2018) =Removal statute subject to Tex. Citizen Participation Act.San Antonio Independent School District v. Maria Hale, et al.04-18-00102-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, June 27, 2018) =Negligent maintenance of school bus is not negligent operation or useUniv. of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Ctr. v. McKenzie, 529 S.W.3d 177 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, pet. filed). Administering drug is the “use” of tangible personal property for immunity purposes.
City of Sealy v. Town Park Ctr., 01-17-00127-CV, 2017 WL 3634025 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Aug. 24, 2017, no pet.)(percuriam) (mem. op.).Interlocutory appeal mooted by Plaintiff’s non-suit, even though Plaintiff refiled similar suit directly after dismissalCity of Donna v. Ramirez, 548 S.W.3d 26 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2017, pet. filed), reh'g denied (Dec. 4, 2017)TOMA posting inside City Hall with a “cancelled” stamp on an agenda controlled, regardless of other agendas says 13th Court of AppealsJesus Christ Open Altar Church, LLC v. City of Hawkins, 12-17-00090-CV, 2017 WL 6523088 (Tex. App.—Tyler Dec. 21, 2017, no pet.), reh'g denied (Feb. 7, 2018).Even though no street for 100 years, mere non-use of a dedicated road easement does not amount to abandonment.
VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority v.ShantiniaReynolds, 04-18-00083-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, July 18, 2018)VIA bus system not immune from bus accident, notwithstanding common carrier heightened standard of care argument
The End…Well no…it never ends…
TO BE CONTINUED…..

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Recent State Cases of Interest - txgovernmentlaw.org