X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:E.E. Lowrey Realty Ltd. and the estate of E.E. Lowrey brought suit against the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Doug Hammitt and Marvin C. Wills Jr., employees of the department, for fire damage to premises owned by Lowrey and leased by the department to store a boat. Lowrey’s petition alleged that the negligence of the employees in installing lights on the boat caused a fire and that the department breached its lease agreement by not compensating Lowrey for damages to the premises. The department, Hammitt and Wills filed pleas to the jurisdiction, contending that sovereign immunity barred Lowrey’s claims. The trial court overruled the plea. HOLDING:Dismissed as to employees’ appeals. The trial court’s order is dismissed and judgment is rendered dismissing all claims against the department. Section 51.014(a)(8) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code permits an interlocutory appeal of the grant or denial of a governmental unit’s plea to the jurisdiction. The right to such an appeal does not, however, extend to an employee of the governmental unit, even when the employee is a codefendant with the governmental unit. In a letter-brief, the attorney general argues that, although an employee named in an individual capacity may not appeal, an employee named in an official capacity should enjoy the benefit of the statute allowing an interlocutory appeal. “We are faced, however, with the plain meaning of the words used in the statute � ‘governmental unit.’ . . . Hammitt and Wills are individuals, not governmental units.” The department contends that the trial court erred in overruling the department’s plea to the jurisdiction � based on sovereign immunity � related to claims under the Texas Tort Claims Act. The Tort Claims Act provides a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for property damage “aris[ing] from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment.” The burden rests with the plaintiff to plead facts that affirmatively show that the court has jurisdiction. “Lowrey’s petition does not allege operation or any use of the boat, or any other item, as a vehicle or as motor-driven equipment. Thus, the claim does not fall within the exception to sovereign immunity. Accordingly, the trial court erred in denying the plea to the jurisdiction, and we sustain the Department’s third issue.” OPINION:Vance, J.; Gray, Vance and Reyna, JJ.

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

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* 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?

 
 

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 © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.