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 http://www.tml.org/p/AMICUS%20BRIEF%20UPDATE%20FOR%20WEB%20SITE.pdf.
Contractual Immunity: Gay v. City of Wichita Falls, No. 08-13-00028-CV (Tex. App.—El Paso). TML and TCAA filed an amicus brief in support of the City of Wichita Falls. Plaintiffs Christopher Gay and Steven Carroll filed suit against the city asserting breach of contract and tort claims related to the denial of long-term disability benefits by the city’s benefit provider, Sun Life Assurance Company. The trial court granted the City of Wichita Falls’ plea to the jurisdiction prompting plaintiffs to file this appeal. The amicus brief sets out the policy and legal basis for the legislature’s waiver of governmental immunity in the limited circumstance of a written contract. Amici argue that the proprietary-governmental dichotomy found in the Texas Tort Claims Act does not apply to Chapter 271 waiver of immunity claims. The brief was filed on October 4, 2013.
Contractual Immunity: Zachry Construction Corp. v. Port of Houston Auth., No. 12-0772 (Tex.). TML and TCAA filed an amicus brief in support of the Port of Houston Authority (Port). The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment and held that the application of a no-damages-for-delay provision of the contract between the Port and Zachry precluded Zachry’s claim for delay damages. The Supreme Court of Texas granted Zachry’s Petition for Review on August 23, 2013. The TML and TCAA brief explains the policy and legal basis for the legislature’s waiver of governmental immunity in the limited circumstance of a written contract. The brief argues that Chapter 271 of the Local Government Code provides a limit on damages that a party may be awarded and that a governmental entity must direct additional work in order for a party to recover. The brief was filed on October 1, 2013. Oral argument has been set for 9:00 a.m., November 6, 2013.
Civil Service: City of Mission v. Gonzalez, No. 12-0828 (Tex.). TML and the City of Houston filed an amicus brief in support of the City of Mission’s Motion for Rehearing. Amici argued that the decision of an independent hearing examiner (upheld by the court of appeals) was outside the hearing examiner’s authority. The Supreme Court of Texas denied the city’s Petition for Review.
The hearing examiner concluded that violations of personnel rules committed by a fire fighter were not sufficient to warrant an indefinite suspension. The decision was based on criteria that were not present in the civil service rules or state civil service law. Amici contend that a hearing examiner does not have the authority to make new rules or set new criteria regarding what constitutes a punishable violation, but can only make decisions regarding whether a violation of a city-adopted rule occurred. The brief was filed on September 24, 2013.