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:Dallas Area Rapid Transit appeals the trial court’s order denying its plea to the jurisdiction. J.W. Thomas sued DART for injuries sustained when he slipped and fell on a wet tile sidewalk at a DART transit station. DART filed a plea to the jurisdiction, contending Thomas failed to establish DART had waived its governmental immunity. The trial judge denied DART’s plea to the jurisdiction without prejudice, noting that “outstanding discovery issues” should be addressed as soon as possible. HOLDING:Affirmed. In his motion to compel, Thomas sought production of evidence relating to prior similar incidents at the bus stop, construction and maintenance of the walkway, warnings provided by DART, and any measurements DART may have taken to determine traction provided by the walkway’s surface. The requested evidence would arguably allow Thomas to meet his burden to raise a fact issue regarding DART’s waiver of governmental immunity with respect to a premises defect. After the hearing on DART’s plea to the jurisdiction, the trial judge decided to await a fuller development of the facts surrounding Thomas’ premises defect claim before making a final decision on DART’s plea to the jurisdiction. The court cannot say that the trial judge acted in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner or failed to follow guiding rules and principles in reaching this decision. DART also argues Thomas failed to plead or present evidence that would support a waiver of governmental immunity because decisions made by DART during the construction process of the walkway were discretionary. The court notes that evidence regarding maintenance and construction of the Mockingbird bus station was the subject of Thomas’ motion to compel. DART produced records regarding cleaning and a lack of maintenance work orders in support of its plea to the jurisdiction while objecting to the production of similar evidence requested by Thomas in discovery, the court notes. The court cannot say that the trial judge abused her discretion in denying DART’s plea to the jurisdiction pending a fuller development of the case. The court rejects DART’s argument that the Texas Transportation Code creates additional statutory discretion that shields DART from waiver of governmental immunity under the Tort Claims Act. DART argued that, because it operates a light rail mass transit system, the language of Texas Transportation Code 452.064(a) exempts it from the application of any state law that regulates or governs, in any way, the design, construction or operation of a railroad or any of the other listed entities and that this gives DART greater governmental immunity than other governmental entities. “Not only would such a broad interpretation shield DART from the effects of the Texas Tort Claims Act, it would foreclose enforcement of numerous other state laws with respect to DART. In making this argument, DART cites no authority for its proposition that section 452.064(a) grants to it such far-reaching discretion and authority, nor has our research yielded any. As this proposal has no support in the existing body of law in Texas, we decline to create a separate class of governmental immunity for DART.” OPINION:Mark Whittington, J.; Whittington, Moseley and Lang-Miers, JJ.

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?

 
 

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.