The University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center v. April Porter 14-17-00107-CV (Tex.app—- Houston, Texas November 2, 2017)
In this case, the 14th Court of Appeals reversed the denial order and allowed MD Anderson to utilize a Rule 91a motion to dispose of a suit filed outside the statute of limitations.
Porter filed suit against MD Anderson for race and gender discrimination and for retaliation in employment. MD Anderson filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 91a on the basis that its immunity was not waived because Porter failed to file suit within the two-year statute of limitations. The trial court denied the motion and MD Anderson appealed.
Rule 91a allows a party to move to dismiss a cause of action on the ground that it has no basis in law or in fact. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 91a. The timely filing of an employment lawsuit is a statutory prerequisite to filing suit and as such is jurisdictional when the defendant is a governmental entity. The limitations period for the plead claims is two years. Rule 91a motions to dismiss are analogous to pleas to the jurisdiction, requiring a court to determine whether the pleader has alleged facts demonstrating jurisdiction. Porter’s pleadings fail to state any dates applicable to establish a timely suit. However, MD Anderson’s motion contained the TWC charge information, noting the complaint was filed August 20, 2013. Porter filed suit on October 10, 2016, more than two years after her complaint was filed. Porter counters that she timely filed her TWC charge, then filed suit within 60 days of receiving her right to sue letter. Therefore the statute of limitations is tolled. However, the court held the 60-day filing date is independent of the two-year statute-of-limitations. Accordingly, the two-year statute of limitations barred Porter’s claims.
If you want to read this opinion, click here. The panel consists of Justice Jamison Justices, Busby, and Donovan. Justice Donovan delivered the opinion of the court. To see the attorneys listed for the Appellant and Appellee’s click here.