law-plea-to-jurisdiction-consideration-of-fact | jurisdictional plea | motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction | sovereign, governmental immunity | mootness doctrine | absence, want,
lack of standing to sue |
PLEA TO THE JURISDICTION
A plea to the jurisdiction is a challenge to a court’s subject matter jurisdiction. Bland Indep. Sch.
Dist. v. Blue, 34 S.W.3d 547, 554 (Tex. 2000). Whether a trial court possesses jurisdiction is a
question of law we review de novo. City of Houston v. Williams, No. 09-0770, 2011 WL 923980, at
*3 (Tex. Mar. 18, 2011); Tex. Dep’t of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 228 (Tex.
2004). When a plea to the jurisdiction challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings, we determine
whether the plaintiff met its burden by pleading facts affirmatively demonstrating the trial court’s
subject matter jurisdiction. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d at 226. We construe the pleadings liberally in favor
of the plaintiff and look to the plaintiff’s intent. Id. The governmental entity must show that an
incurable jurisdictional defect, which appears on the face of the pleadings renders it impossible for
the plaintiff to amend and confer jurisdiction on the trial court. City of Mont Belvieu v. Enter. Prod.
Operating, LP, 222 S.W.3d 515, 518 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, no pet.); Mulvey v.
Mobil Producing Tex. & N.M., Inc., 147 S.W.3d 594, 600 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2004, pet.
denied); Rylander v. Caldwell, 23 S.W.3d 132, 135 (Tex. App.—Austin 2000, no pet.).
PLEA TO THE JURISDICTION APPROVED AS VEHICLE TO PROCURE DISMISSAL OF
WHISTLEBLOWER SUIT BASED ON ALLEGATIONS STATED IN THE PLEADINGS
State of Texas and TxDoT v. Lueck, No. 06-1034 (Tex. Jun. 26, 2009)(Green)(Whistleblower Act
claim dismissed)(allegation of regulatory noncompliance insufficient, report not to appropriate law
enforcement agency, allegation of violation of the law as jurisdictional element, dismissal on the
pleadings by plea to the jurisdiction, no opportunity to amend afforded)
THE STATE OF TEXAS AND THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION v. GEORGE
LUECK; from Travis County; 3rd district (03-05-00510-CV, 212 SW3d 630, 08-16-06)
motion to dismiss denied
The Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and dismisses the case for lack of jurisdiction.
Justice Green delivered the opinion of the Court. [pdf 16 pgs.]
“When a plea to the jurisdiction challenges the pleadings, we determine if the pleader has alleged
facts that affirmatively demonstrate the court’s jurisdiction to hear the cause. We construe the
pleadings liberally in favor of the plaintiffs and look to the pleaders’ intent.” Miranda, 133 S.W.3d at
226 (citations omitted). ...
[A]s a matter of law, Lueck’s pleadings affirmatively demonstrate that he did not allege a violation
under the Whistleblower Act. For these reasons, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and
dismiss the cause for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
ULTRA VIRES EXCEPTION TO SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY
Here, Heinrich alleges that petitioners violated article 6243b, section 10A(b) of the Texas Revised
Civil Statutes when they reduced her benefits. Thus, if Heinrich’s allegations are true, her suit would
fall within the ultra vires exception to governmental immunity as described above.
City of El Paso v. Heinrich, No. 06-0778 (Tex. May 1, 2009)(Jefferson)
(governmental immunity)(retrospective monetary relief barred; prospective relief against official
capacity defendant not barred by immunity, no individual-capacity claims, ergo official immunity
This is not the end of our analysis, however: “if a plea to the jurisdiction challenges the existence of
jurisdictional facts, we consider relevant evidence submitted by the parties when necessary to
resolve the jurisdictional issues raised, as the trial court is required to do.” Id. at 227. If there is no
question of fact as to the jurisdictional issue, the trial court must rule on the plea to the jurisdiction
as a matter of law. Id. at 228. If, however, the jurisdictional evidence creates a fact question, then
the trial court cannot grant the plea to the jurisdiction, and the issue must be resolved by the fact
finder. Id. at 227–28. This standard mirrors our review of summary judgments, and we therefore
take as true all evidence favorable to Heinrich, indulging every reasonable inference and resolving
any doubts in her favor. Id. at 228.
Tex. Dep’t of Parks and Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 226 (Tex. 2004) (“[I]n some
cases, disputed evidence of jurisdictional facts that also implicate the merits of the case
may require resolution by the finder of fact.”) Cited by: TxDoT v. York, No. 07-0743 (Tex. Dec.
5, 2008)(per curiam) (TTCA, dangerous road conditions, special defect)
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