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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities indicted Christopher Ochoa and Richard Danziger for murder in Travis County in 1989. In return for the state’s agreement not to pursue the death penalty against him, Ochoa agreed to plead guilty and give incriminating testimony against Danziger. A jury convicted Danziger at trial and sentenced him to life in prison. In 1996, someone else confessed to the murder, and DNA evidence exonerated both Ochoa and Danziger. Authorities dismissed the charges against them based on actual innocence, and they were released in February 2002. By that time, each had been imprisoned for 12 years. In the interim, another inmate had assaulted Danziger, leaving him with a severe brain injury. After their release, Danziger (acting at all times through his legal guardian, his sister Barbara Oakley) and Ochoa brought civil rights claims against the city of Austin in federal district court. Both received substantial settlements: $9 million for Danziger and $5.3 million for Ochoa. Danziger also received a $950,000 settlement from Travis County. Meanwhile, Danziger sued Ochoa for falsely implicating him in the murder. To settle that case, Ochoa assigned Danziger $500,000 of his recovery from the city, and all of his compensation rights against the state under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code ��103.001-.154 (Chapter 103). Danziger then filed two Chapter 103 actions against the state, one individually and one as assignee of Ochoa’s claim. The state filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting sovereign immunity and lack of standing, which the trial court denied. On interlocutory appeal, the 3rd Court of Appeals affirmed Danziger’s right to bring both claims. But because one 3rd Court justice dissented, the Texas Supreme Court had jurisdiction to review the case. HOLDING:Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part. As Chapter 103 claims are entirely a statutory creation, the court examined Chapter 103 to determine whether claims brought under the statute are assignable. While the statute does not mention assignment, it expressly prohibits survival of claims, the court noted. Nevertheless, because Chapter 103 does not mention assignment, Danziger urged the court to apply the general rule allowing sale and assignment of causes of action. But the court found that assignability and survivability, though sometimes distinct, have long been linked in American and Texas law. Again looking to the words of Chapter 103, the court found that Danziger’s previous settlements with government entities did not result in the state gaining sovereign immunity. Certainly, the court stated, the Legislature could have waived the state’s sovereign immunity only for those who have not sued local entities, but it did not. Thus, the court held that Danziger’s previous settlements did not bar his Chapter 103 claim. OPINION:Brister, J., delivered the opinion of the court.

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