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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1999, an acting fire chief in the Houston Fire Department temporarily suspended Donald Clark for failure to follow regulations. On administrative appeal, a hearing examiner found there was just cause to support the suspension, but that city had erred when it allowed an acting fire chief to issue the temporary suspension. The case was appealed all the way up to the 1st Court of Appeals, which remanded the case to the trial court. On remand, Clark filed a second motion for summary judgment, seeking a declaratory judgment that an acting fire chief, not appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, is not within the definition of “department head” for purposes of the disciplinary statute, Local Government Code �143.117, and therefore lacks authority to suspend members of the fire department. The trial court granted Clark’s motion and denied the city’s cross-motion. The trial court issued a declaratory judgment on the acting fire chief’s lack of authority, and also ordered the suspension reversed and Clark’s wages and time reinstated. HOLDING:Dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The court points out that under Local Government Code �143.1016(c), when a fire fighter appeals a disciplinary decision to a hearing examiner rather than the Fire Fighters’ and Police Officers’ Civil Service Commission, the hearing examiner’s decision is final and binding on all parties, and the fire fighter automatically waives all rights to appeal to a district court except in certain statutory situations. Though a fire fighter does have some avenues of appeal, then, the court finds no corresponding right of appeal for a municipality. “[T]he absence of even a single such provision for the municipality can reasonably be interpreted only to mean that no such right or procedures were intended or exist.” Consequently, the court finds that the trial court had no jurisdiction to review the hearing officer’s decision on the authority of the acting fire chief. In light of the fact that it did not have jurisdiction, the declaratory judgment issued by the trial court had no binding effect either. OPINION:Edelman, J.; Edelman, Frost and Guzman, JJ.

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