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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The appellant, Harry Simmons, challenges the trial court’s rendition of summary judgment in favor of the appellee, Briggs Equipment Trust, in Simmons’ suit against Briggs for negligence in the maintenance and repair of a rail-car mover. In his first amended petition, Simmons alleged that on Aug. 2, 2003, he was using a TrackMobile 95TM Mobile Rail-Car Mover to move railroad cars at his employer’s work site when a fire started in the TrackMobile’s engine compartment. The fire spread, blocking the front and back doors of the TrackMobile, forcing Simmons to evacuate the operator’s compartment by “launch[ing] himself out of the window.” Simmons fell several feet to the rock and sand surface below, “sustain[ing] a back injury which required surgery in addition to other injuries.” Prior to this incident, Briggs had entered into an agreement with Simmons’s employer, PolyOne Corp., d/b/a Southwest Chemical, to provide maintenance and repair services for the TrackMobile every 90 days, effective Sept. 13, 2001. A handwritten notice on an invoice, dated Aug. 23, 2002, modified the agreement so that the maintenance would be done every 60 days. The record contains several work orders dated as early as Aug. 11, 2000, evidencing maintenance and repair work by Briggs on the TrackMobile. In regard to Simmons’s allegations that a failure of the TrackMobile’s hydraulic system and hoses caused the fire, a Briggs work order, dated February 21, 2001, indicates that Briggs invoiced new hose assemblies and repaired the TrackMobile’s hydraulic hoses. Another Briggs work order, dated June 3, 2002, shows that Briggs replaced the hydraulic pump and drained, refilled, and reset the system after the discovery of a leak that had flooded the TrackMobile’s transmission. In the months before the fire, a March 2003 invoice reflects that Briggs inspected the TrackMobile, removed and replaced the fuel filters, bled the fuel system, and installed a new boot on one of the front motor mounts. The last Briggs work order for the TrackMobile included in the record, dated June 2, 2003, approximately two months before the fire, shows that Briggs performed maintenance on the TrackMobile, but does not indicate whether, at that time, the TrackMobile’s hydraulic system or hoses were examined for wear or stability. The record also contains PolyOne’s Seabrook Plant’s Aug. 4, 2003 report of its investigation of the fire. The report states that the TrackMobile fire caused “considerable damage to the engine compartment and operator’s compartment.” The report also explains that “the Fire Chief checked the damaged [TrackMobile] and noticed a broken hydraulic hose on the engine.” The report concludes that “[t]he apparent cause of the fire was a ruptured hydraulic hose, spewing hydraulic fluid onto the exhaust manifold and subsequently igniting.” Simmons asserted a negligence cause of action against Briggs, alleging that Briggs was responsible for maintenance and service of the TrackMobile, including the hydraulic system, and that the fire was caused because Briggs had “negligently maintained and serviced the said TrackMobile machine.” Briggs entered a general denial and filed a no-evidence summary judgment motion, asserting that there was no evidence that it owed Simmons a legal duty, that it breached any duty to maintain and/or service the TrackMobile, or that any breach proximately caused Simmons’s injury. In his response to Briggs’s summary judgment motion, Simmons attached documents evidencing Briggs’s agreement to perform “lubrication and operational maintenance inspection,” various invoices from Briggs reflecting repairs and service to the TrackMobile, the Seabrook Plant report, a worker’s compensation field investigator’s report, medical records, and an affidavit from Simmons. Simmons asserted that Briggs had failed to uphold its duty to exercise reasonable care in performing maintenance and repairs and, as a result, Simmons was injured. Simmons’s affidavit states, “I suffered a herniated disc in my lower back when I jumped from a burning TrackMobile vehicle” and that “[a] reasonable conclusion is that Briggs Equipment failed to properly maintain or replace the hydraulic hose, causing it to burst.” In its subsequent response, Briggs objected to Simmons’s summary judgment evidence, asserting that it consisted of inadmissible hearsay and conclusory statements, and that the opinions regarding the cause of the fire did not meet the requirements of the Texas Rules of Evidence for expert testimony. On Aug. 5, 2005, the trial court, without specifying the grounds upon which it was relying, signed an order granting Briggs’s no-evidence summary judgment motion. HOLDING:Affirmed. The record reveals that the maintenance and service of a TrackMobile vehicle involves specialized equipment and techniques unfamiliar to a lay person. Few people not involved in the rail-car industry are familiar with rail-car movers, the functioning of their engines and other internal parts, or the frequency and type of inspection and maintenance they require. A maintenance company’s practices and procedures and industry standards with respect to the inspection and maintenance of a TrackMobile or other rail-car mover engine are not matters within a lay person’s general knowledge. The court holds that Simmons needed expert testimony regarding the appropriate standard of care and whether Briggs’ conduct met that standard. The record contains no evidence establishing the condition of the allegedly broken hydraulic hose before the incident or whether a condition, if any, of the hydraulic hose should have been detected or repaired by Briggs prior to the fire as part of its obligation to provide “operational maintenance.” The mere occurrence of a fire does not give rise to a presumption of negligence. Wichita City Lines, Inc. v. Puckett, 295 S.W.2d 894 (Tex. 1956). Without expert evidence or testimony, there was no evidence that Briggs violated the standard of care for the inspection and maintenance of the engine, hydraulic pump, or other internal parts of a TrackMobile or similar rail-car mover. There is no factual or evidentiary support in the record concerning the precise cause of the broken hose, its condition at the time of Briggs’s inspection, any difference a proper inspection would have revealed, or the actions that a reasonable maintenance company would have taken with respect to the hydraulic pump and hose. The court concludes that Simmons did not present more than a scintilla of evidence to support a finding that Briggs breached its duty. Because Simmons did not provide probative expert testimony regarding the appropriate standard of care, the court holds that Simmons did not raise a fact issue as to the breach of duty element necessary to support his negligence claim. OPINION:Jennings, J.; Jennings, Alcala, and Price, J.J.

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