Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Civil Litigation Click here for the full text of this decision The appellant has standing to raise his constitutional claims, but those claims are without merit. FACTS:Appellant, firefighter Elmer F. Williams II, appeals a take-nothing judgment rendered after the trial court denied Williams’s motions for partial summary judgment and granted 1. the summary judgment motions of the Houston Firemen’s Relief and Retirement Fund and the individual appellees, who were the fund’s board members (collectively, “the trustees”); and 2. the summary judgment motions and dismissal motion of appellee the city of Houston. The court issued an original opinion in this appeal on Dec. 27, 2001. The appellant moved for rehearing, as did the fund and the trustees. The court grants Williams’ motion for rehearing. Williams joined the Houston Fire Department and the fund in 1990, after six years and five months of service with two other cities’ fire departments, neither of which had statutory firefighters’ retirement funds like Houston’s. In 1995, Williams sought to purchase prior service credit (PSC) under the firemen’s retirement-fund statute for these six years and five months of service to be applied toward his retirement with HFD. The PSC provision of the former retirement statute, �30, provided: “A firefighter who transfers from the fire department of one city to that of a city covered by this Act and desires to participate in the fund of that city shall: . . . [meet three requirements, including paying "into the fund of that city an amount equal to the total contribution he would have made had he been employed by that city instead of the city from which he transferred'].” The statute was silent as to whether the city from which the firefighter transferred had to have a fund. While Williams’ request was pending, the fund adopted guidelines construing �30: Years worked outside Houston could be credited toward retirement only if the former city had a similar statutory firefighter’s fund. Applying the guidelines, the fund denied Williams’s PSC request in January 1997. The reason for that denial was that the cities in which Williams had worked before did not have firefighters’ retirement funds similar to Houston’s. Subsequently, the Legislature repealed Article 6243e.2 and replaced it with Article 6243e.2(1). Article 6243e.2(1), the current retirement statute, restated and amended former Article 6243e.2, the former retirement statute, and continued in effect each firefighters’ relief and retirement fund established under that article. The PSC provision of the current retirement statute, �16(a), provides: “A person who becomes a firefighter in a municipality to which this article applies may receive service credit for prior employment with the fully paid fire department of another municipality in this state with a similar fundbenefitting only firefighters of that municipality to which the firefighter contributed if . . . [the firefighter meets five requirements].” The fund and the trustees interpreted the first sentence of former �30(a) to mean what the italicized portion of current �16(a) now expressly says. HOLDING:Affirmed as modified. The court modifies the judgment rendered on Williams’ statutory and common- law claims against the fund, the trustees (in either capacity) and the city to dismiss those claims without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court holds that Williams has no statutory right to judicial review of his claims. However, Texas law recognizes a right to judicial review of administrative orders that violate a constitutional right. The court holds that Williams has standing to raise his constitutional claims, but those claims are without merit. The court further holds that the city is immune to Williams’s Trust Code and common-law claims under the doctrine of sovereign or governmental immunity and that the trustees are immune under the doctrine of official immunity. OPINION:Evelyn V. Keyes, J.; Hedges, Taft and Keyes, JJ. CONCURRENCE AND DISSENT:Tim Taft, J. “I would grant Williams’s rehearing motion and deny the Fund and the trustees’ joint rehearing motion as moot. I would also reverse the judgment to the extent that it was rendered in favor of the Fund and the trustees in their individual capacities and remand the cause. I would further instruct the trial court, upon remand, to render a declaratory judgment in favor of Williams concerning the Fund’s interpretation of the former retirement statute’s PSC provision that underlay the guidelines and the PSC determination. I would affirm the judgment to the extent that it was rendered in favor of the City.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.