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Court looks at governmental immunity from suit for damages and injuries

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School district immune from suit

In the case of Mouton v. Cannon Cochran Management Services, Inc., the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas affirmed the judgment. The trial court correctly dismissed the school bus driver’s claims against the school district based on lack of jurisdiction, the appellate court said.

The driver did not allege damages or injury caused by a school district employee’s negligent use or operation of a motor vehicle. However, she argued that section 101.021(1) of the TTCA waived the school district’s immunity because she was an employee of the school district during the collision.

The appellate court rejected the driver’s argument. According to the appellate court, the plain meaning of the text in section 101.021(1) waived governmental immunity from suit for damages and injuries:

  • caused by an employee’s wrongful act or omission or negligence within their scope of employment
  • arising from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle

If immunity was waived, the employee would be personally liable, the appellate court said. As relevant to this case, the language in section 101.021 did not show any legislative intent to waive governmental immunity under the circumstances that the driver alleged, the appellate court concluded.

Lastly, the driver claimed that the school district committed various constitutional violations and retaliated against her by wrongfully terminating her employment. However, the driver’s petition failed to allege these claims and only once asserted wrongful termination, the appellate court noted.

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