Lovell v. City of Baytown, Texas (Tex. 2011)(Opinion)
FULL TEXT OF OPINION [ forthcoming ]
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OPINION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS BELOW: Court of Appeals
Also see: Texas Causes of Action | 2011 Texas Supreme Court Opinions | 2011 Tex Sup Ct Per Curiams
Lowell v. City of Baytown, TX, No. 07-1011 (Tex. Dec. 16, 2011)(per curiam opinion)(firefighter litigation,
governmental entities, no immunity to claim prospective injunctive relief brought against government official in official capacity)
EXCERPT FROM TEXAS SUPREME COURT'S OPINION
Petitioners are firefighters for the City of Baytown. They sued the City, claiming that it improperly calculated pay
for certain assignments in violation of the Firefighter and Police Civil Services Act. The firefighters sought
declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as “all pay and benefits lost as a result of Defendant’s failure to properly
pay Plaintiffs during temporary assignment of higher-classified duties.” The firefighters also requested
prejudgment interest on back pay, attorney’s fees, costs, and postjudgment interest. The City filed a
jurisdictional plea asserting governmental immunity, which the trial court granted.
The court of appeals also reversed the trial court’s judgment dismissing the firefighters’ claims for prospective
declaratory and injunctive relief, holding that such claims did not implicate governmental immunity. Although the
court of appeals correctly concluded that immunity does not preclude certain prospective claims, we recently
held that such actions must be brought against the relevant government officials, rather than the governmental
entity itself. See Heinrich, 284 S.W.3d at 373 (observing that “these suits cannot be brought against the state,
which retains immunity, but must be brought against the state actors in their official capacity. This is true even
though the suit is, for all practical purposes, against the state.”). Here, the firefighters named the City rather
than city officials in their official capacity as Heinrich requires, but their pleading predated Heinrich.
In addition to remanding to permit the firefighters to replead in light of chapter 271, our remand will also permit
the firefighters to replead in light of Heinrich and seek appropriate relief, if any, against the relevant city officials.
Accordingly, we grant the firefighters’ petition for review and, without hearing oral
argument, reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion. TEX. R. APP. P. 59.1, 60.2(d).
KEITH LOWELL, ET AL. v. CITY OF BAYTOWN, TEXAS; from Harris County; 1st district (01-04-00548-CV, 264 SW3d 31, 08-09-07)
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 59.1, after granting the petition for review and without hearing oral argument, the
Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and remands the case to the trial court.
Per Curiam Opinion
Link to Electronic Briefs in this case 07-1011 LOWELL v. CITY OF BAYTOWN, TEXAS