Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Yolanda Gomez-Parra and Jose Gomez-Parra bought a 1991 Hyundai from the city of El Paso at an auction. On April 18, 2002, while attempting to cross into the United States, Yolanda was stopped at the Ysleta Port of Entry when custom officers discovered 27 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle. On April 12, 2004, the Gomez-Parras filed a suit against the city alleging claims of negligence and intentional tort against the city from the fact arising out of the marijuana found in the vehicle. The city filed an original answer, plea in abatement, and a plea to the jurisdiction. A hearing on the city’s plea to the jurisdiction was held on Nov. 29, 2004. After determining that appellees had not filed a written response to the city’s plea to the jurisdiction, the trial court allowed appellees’ counsel an opportunity to provide a response and the city in turn, an opportunity to reply to such response. In their response to the city’s plea in abatement and plea to the jurisdiction, appellees’ argue that the auctioning of the automobiles is a proprietary function and thus, the city cannot claim sovereign immunity. In its response to appellees’ reply, the city argued that because there is no statute, city ordinance, or any other Texas law mandating the inspection of a vehicle prior to auctioning, the search of a vehicle for narcotics prior to its auctioning is a discretionary act for which the city has not waived its immunity. Therefore, even assuming, arguendo, that appellees’ claims fall within the limited scope of waiver of immunity established by the Texas Tort Claims Act, defendant is nonetheless immune. Furthermore, the city argues that Texas law reveals that seizing, forfeiting, and auctioning an automobile are governmental functions that the city performs as an agent of the state of Texas, in furtherance of Texas law, and for the interest of the public at large. The trial court denied the city’s plea to the jurisdiction on Jan. 13, 2005. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The activity of auctioning a seized vehicle is so well aligned with the police and fire protection and control function that the Legislature has designated it as a governmental function. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 59.01-59.03 mandates the seizure of vehicles used in the transportation of narcotics and that such seized vehicles are subject to forfeiture and must be sold at public auction. Under Article 59.06(c)(2), the proceeds of the fund shall be used for law enforcement purpose. The sale of the vehicle at auction was an extension of the city’s police and fire protection function and as such, the city engaged in an activity that touched on the category of police and fire control listed as a governmental function in Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code �101.0215(a). The court finds that the city is immune from appellees’ suit and the trial court erred in denying its plea to the jurisdiction. OPINION:Barajas, C.J.; Barajas, C.J., McClure and Ables, J.J.

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?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


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.