McLane Company, Inc. v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, 03-16-00415-CV (TexApp Dist 02/01/2017)
Appellant submitted a request for public information under Texas's Public Information Act. Appellee sought counsel from the attorney general as it wished to withhold portions of responsive records from disclosure. The attorney general issued a letter ruling stating appellee must release the requested information, with two exceptions. Appellee brought the underlying suit to challenge the decision wherein appellant intervened seeking mandamus relief ordering appellee to produce the requested information. Appellant also sought declarations and alleged appellee failed to comply with the PIA's requirements. Appellee filed a plea to the jurisdiction contending that sovereign immunity deprived the trial court of jurisdiction over appellant's claims; the trial court granted the pleas and this appeal followed. The court affirmed concluding that appellant's claims under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act did not waive appellee's sovereign immunity as the requests did not seek a declaration concerning the validity of the PIA or any other statute, rather a declaration of appellant's rights under the statute. The court noted that precedent from the supreme court, as well as this court, compelled the conclusion that the UDJA did not waive sovereign immunity for "bare statutory construction" claims. Further, the court concluded the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear appellant's ultra vires claims under the redundant remedies doctrine. Because appellant can pursue relief through the PIA, any remedies it could obtain through an ultra vires suit would be redundant. Accordingly, the trial court's order was affirmed.
McLane Company, Inc. v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Austin Court of Appeals, Case No.: 03-16-00415-CV, 02/01/2017
|February 17, 2017
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