Denial of Texas County’s Jurisdictional Challenges Upheld on Appeal

TEXAS — In a case involving the mesothelioma death of a longtime jurist in Jefferson County, Texas attributed in part to asbestos remediation at the courthouse, a Texas Appellate Court affirmed the order of the trial court on all issues against defendant/appellant Jefferson County with the exception of the applicability of claims for exemplary damages, which were dismissed. Jefferson County filed an interlocutory appeal based on the trial court’s denial of its jurisdictional challenges. We have previously reported on the Appellate Court’s handling of the county’s novel argument on appeal regarding the notice requirements of the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA).

Regarding the county’s other jurisdictional arguments, the Appellate Court determined that pursuant to the notice-pleading standard in Texas, The plaintiff’s fourth amended petition was sufficient to state a claim for premises liability under the TTCA. They further determined that fact issues existed regarding the county’s provision of workers’ compensation coverage for elected officials, so the trial court did not err by denying the county’s pleas to the jurisdiction for failure to exhaust the administrative remedy of the Texas Workers Compensation Act (TWCA), nor did they err by denying the county’s plea to the jurisdiction based on the exclusive-remedy bar of the TWCA. Finally, the Appellate Court also agreed with the trial court that Local Government Code section 89.004 was not a jurisdictional statutory prerequisite to these claims, which were brought under the TTCA.

Only the Westlaw citation is currently available at 2018 WL 6844046.