Beaumont Court of Appeals holds civil service employee’s suit deadline was not extended by Supreme Court’s emergency orders

Michael Scott Nix v. City of Beaumont, Texas, 09-22-00042-CV (Tex. App. – Beaumont, July 27, 2023)

In this civil service lawsuit, the Beaumont court of appeals affirmed the granting of the City’s plea to the jurisdiction.

Plaintiff Nix, a City of Beaumont fire fighter, was indefinitely suspended for violations of sick leave policies.  Nix appealed to the civil service commission. The commission sustained the finding of policy violations and dismissed Nix. Nix filed this suit in district court. He added claims that the City failed to comply with CBAs from 2012 to 2015, the City had no jurisdiction to enter into a March 20, 2015 Settlement Agreement, and that Nix did not waive any rights by the execution of that agreement The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction noting a previous case involved identical parties went up to the court of opinions, which issued an opinion rejecting all of Nix’s claims.  The trial court granted the plea and Nix appealed.

To challenge the decision of the Civil Service Commission, Nix had to file his suit in the district court as outlined in the governing statute and ask the district court to set aside the ruling of the Commission. The jurisdictional facts relevant to this issue are undisputed. The record contains a March 11, 2020 email response from Nix’s attorney acknowledging receipt of the decision.  More than ten days passed before the district court suit was filed, however, the time period occurred during the Texas Supreme Court’s emergency orders for COVID-19. The court of appeals held the Supreme Court’s Emergency Orders do not extend deadlines for perfecting an appeal, do not give courts authority to revive jurisdiction once an appellate deadline passes, and do not grant jurisdiction where none otherwise exists.  It concluded Nix failed to timely file his appeal of the commission’s decision to the district court. The plea was properly granted.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel consists of Justice Horton, Justice Johnson and Justice Wright.

Leave a Comment