TCAA, in conjunction with the Texas Municipal League, files amicus briefs and comments in support of cities on many issues. To keep up to date on the status of these issues, go to https://www.tml.org/p/AmicusBriefUpdate_021219.pdf.
Tort Claims Act: VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority v. Meck, No. 18-0458 in the Texas Supreme Court. In this case, VIA’s camera recorded the moment when Curtis Meck, a passenger on a VIA bus, reached up to grab a strap. As the driver began to accelerate from a stop, he heard a passenger exclaim “back door!” The video chronicled a commonplace circumstance in buses and cabs and automobiles—a driver’s need to stop due to an unanticipated event. Meck testified that the bus’s deceleration caused injuries to his neck and wrist. Two VIA training drivers testified that the driver, although new, did not violate the standard by which an ordinary bus driver could be held. But the trial court did not instruct the jury on ordinary care. Instead, it told the jury that VIA owed Meck a “high degree” of care and awarded him damages. The legal issue in the case is whether the Tort Claims Act provides that a public transit authority, exercising purely governmental functions under Chapter 451 of the Transportation Code, can be held to an ordinary-negligence standard of care (as are other governmental entities governed by the Act) or to a “high degree of care”—a slight-negligence standard the law applies to for-profit common carriers. TML joined the Denton County Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, and the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool as amici curiae to argue that the standard of care applied to all governmental entities for negligence in the operation or use of a motor vehicle, as set forth by the Legislature, may not be judicially heightened. The brief was filed on January 25, 2019.