Report of performing gas tests in unsafe manner is not a good faith report of a violation of law under Whistleblower Act


Dallas Independent School District v. Watson, 05-12-00254-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, February 28, 2014).

This is an appeal from a final judgment for the Plaintiff in a Texas Whistleblower Act case where the Dallas Court of Appeals reversed and dismissed the underlying claims.

Watson was terminated from his position as a plumber for DISD. Watson’s supervisor required him to perform three gas tests a day at various schools in the district where he discovered leaks in various systems. Watson notified the Texas Railroad Commission that he was being pressured into these test in an unsafe and “hurried-up” manner. Watson was subsequently terminated. After a jury returned a verdict in Watson’s favor, DISD appealed.

After going through some of the main cases for a “good faith” report, the court concluded Watson’s allegations merely recite his prediction that completing three gas tests on a single day in the future might be “unsafe” and “hurried-up.” There is no evidence performing the tests in this manner would have constituted a “violation of law.”  As a result, the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the case and should have granted the City’s plea to the jurisdiction. Verdict reversed and claims dismissed.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Justice Moseley, Justices Bridges and Lang-Miers. Opinion by Justice Bridges. The attorneys listed for DISD are Jamison Dean Newberg, Kathryn E. Long, and Carlos G. Lopez.  The attorneys listed for Watson are Steven E. Clark, Zac Duffy, and Hance W. Burrow III.

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