Austin Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff has to allege recoverable damages to waive governmental immunity for breach of contract under Chapter 271 of the Local Government Code.
Special contributing author Laura Mueller, City Attorney for Dripping Springs
Robert Lee Fitzsimmons, Jr. v. Killeen Indep. Sch. Dist., 03-19-00535-CV (Tex. App.—Austin, August 14, 2020).
In this governmental immunity case, the Austin Court of Appeals dismissed the case against the School District because the plaintiff failed to allege recoverable damages for breach of contract (Chapter 271 of the Local Government Code).
The plaintiff was a school teacher for the School District who was given the opportunity to resign after an accusation of “viewing inappropriate materials.” The School District and the plaintiff entered into a “Settlement and Resignation Agreement” that included nondisclosure clauses to protect both the School District and the plaintiff. The plaintiff later lost a job opportunity based on the allegations related to his prior position. He sued the School District for breach of contract based on the Settlement Agreement. The School District filed a plea to the jurisdiction arguing that its governmental immunity was not waived. The trial court granted the School District’s plea to the jurisdiction.
To present a claim for breach of contract that waives immunity under Texas Local Government Code Chapter 271, a plaintiff has to allege that the contract in question is a contract “stating the essential terms of the agreement for providing goods or services to the local governmental entity that is properly executed on behalf of the local governmental entity.” Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 271.151. Also, a claim has to include an allegation of recoverable damages. Id. § 271.153. The plaintiff did not allege recoverable damages, thus the Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.
If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel consists of Justices Goodwin, Kelly, and Smith. Opinion by Justice Edward Smith.