4th Court of Appeals holds VIA bus system not immune from bus accident, notwithstanding common carrier heightened standard of care argument

VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority v. Shantinia Reynolds, 04-18-00083-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, July 18, 2018)

This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction in a Texas Tort Claims Act (“TTCA”)/vehicle accident case where the San Antonio Court of Appeals affirmed the denial.

Reynolds was injured when the VIA bus he was riding as a passenger rear-ended another driver. Reynolds sued VIA Metropolitan Transit (“VIA”), based, in part, on a heightened standard of care given it was a common carrier bus system. VIA filed a plea to the jurisdiction which was denied. VIA appealed.

VIA asserts its governmental immunity is not waived under a cause of action based on a “high degree of care” standard and the TTCA only waives immunity for general negligence. Recently, in VIA Metropolitan Transit v. Meck, No. 04-17-00108-CV, 2018 WL 1831681 (Tex. App.—San Antonio, April 18, 2018, no pet. h.) the 4th Court of Appeals held the TTCA motor vehicle waiver of immunity applies, regardless of the standard of care.  Citing to Meck, the court held “[n]owhere in the motor-driven vehicle exception are specific standards of care expressly mentioned as is the case with other exceptions under the TTCA,” and thus, “to determine whether VIA’s immunity is waived by the motor-driven vehicle exception, we must determine whether the bus driver would be liable.” VIA was a common carrier and its bus driver would be personally liable under Texas law because he allegedly breached a “high degree of care” so VIA’s immunity from suit is waived under the TTCA.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel consists of Justice Barnard, Justice Martinez and Justice Rios. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Barnard.  The attorneys listed for VIA are David DuBois and Ricardo R. Reyna. The attorney listed for Reynolds is Paul E. Campolo.