State immune from suit asserting failure to follow forfeiture procedures

The State of Texas v. Antonio Menchaca Jr. and Perla Nevarez 13-16-00602-CV (Tex. App– Corpus Christi February 15, 2018)

This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction where the 13th Court of Appeals reversed the denial and rendered in favor of the State.

A Cameron County District Attorney’s Office investigator sent notices to two banks that it was investigating potential money laundering by Menchaca  so the banks froze his accounts. Later, the State filed a civil forfeiture action against Menchaca seeking to seize one of Menchaca’s bank accounts. Menchaca subsequently answered and counterclaimed for declaratory judgment relief. Prior to answering Menchaca’s counterclaim, the State nonsuited its civil forfeiture action. The State then answered Menchaca’s counterclaim and filed a plea to the jurisdiction which the trial court denied. The State appealed.

Menchaca actually seeks ultra vires declaratory relief against the State of Texas for failing to comply with the law related to civil forfeitures. However, these types of suits cannot be brought against the State because the State retains its immunity. They must be brought against officials. “Menchaca’s action is defeated by sovereign immunity.”

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel consists of Justice Contreras, Benavides and Longoria. Justice Benavides delivered the opinion of the court. The attorney listed for Nevarez is Hon. Eduardo Lucio and Hon. Dennis Sanchez. The attorney listed for Menchaca is Hon. Dennis Sanchez and Hon. Eduardo Lucio. The attorney listed for The State of Texas is Hon. Luis V. Saenz, Hon. Matthew Kendall and Hon. Lena Chaisson-Munoz.

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