Former City Manager properly alleged breach of contract under Chapter even though the actual contract document was not presented to the city council.
Special contributing author Laura Mueller, City Attorney for Dripping Springs
City of Port Isabel v. Edward Meza, No. 13-19-00070-CV, 2020 WL 3786249 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi July 2, 2020) (mem. op.).
This is a breach of contract case where the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the City’s plea to the jurisdiction.
Edward Meza was hired as the City Manager. Two years later, the City Commission approved an employment/severance package for Mr. Meza, in concept. The agreement was drafted and signed by the Mayor and Meza, but the actual agreement document was never taken back to the City Commission for approval. Meza was later terminated and the severance policy was rescinded by the City Commission. Meza sued the City for breach of contract. The City argued the agreement was not properly approved and executed by the City. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction which was denied.
Section 271.151 of the Texas Local Government Code waives immunity in contracts for services but requires a contract be “properly executed” by the governmental entity. The court of appeals reviewed the agreement, the meeting minutes, the City’s Charter, and the affidavits of appointed and elected officials. The July 2010 meeting minutes showed approval of the basics of the employment/severance agreement. The City Charter provided that the mayor can sign documents for the City. The court of appeals held that this evidence raised a fact issue that the agreement was properly executed sufficient to overcome the City’s plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of the plea to the jurisdiction.
If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel consists of Justices Benavides, Longoria, and Perkes. Opinion by Justice Benavides.