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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:A Kemah police officer attempted to pull over Gabriel Vela for an expired car registration. Vela pulled into the left-hand turn lane, and while he was waiting to turn, the officer, who had pulled up behind him, got out of the car and approached Vela in his vehicle. Upon learning that Vela was wanted on an outstanding traffic warrant, the officer, Douglas Ozburn, had Vela sit in the back of Ozburn’s patrol car. Another officer, Michael Shafer, arrived on the scene and parked in back of Ozburn. Harold Starnes came along and drove his truck into the back of Shafer’s car, which rear-ended Ozburn’s car and injured Vela. Vela sued the city and Starnes for negligence. Vela brought his claims under the Texas Tort Claims Act, saying his injuries arose out of the negligent operation or use of a motor vehicle. After several motions and cross-motions, the trial court denied the city’s plea to the jurisdiction, which was based on sovereign immunity, and the city filed an interlocutory appeal. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded for entry of dismissal. The thrust of Vela’s complaint is that Ozburn and Shafer negligently parked their patrol vehicles in the turning lane, and but for their operation or use of the patrol vehicle to detain Vela, the accident causing Vela’s injuries would not have occurred. The court points out that even though the terms “use” and “operation” have not been defined in the statute they have come to be interpreted as meaning that the use of the car must have actually caused the injury. It’s not enough for the car to merely furnish the condition that makes the injury possible. The court concludes that in this case, the patrol cars merely furnished the condition that made Vela’s injuries possible. Vela is not complaining that putting him in a patrol car was negligent; he contends the officers acted negligently when they placed him in an improperly parked patrol car. But, this did not cause Vela’s injuries. Starnes did. The court mentions that the trial court was also wrong to deny the city’s plea to the jurisdiction that was based on the fact that Shafer had not been deposed. Nothing new could have been gained by deposing Shafer, the court writes. OPINION:Fowler, J.; Fowler, Edelman and Seymore, JJ.

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