City immune from alleged failure to honor tax abatement says Dallas Court of Appeals

Lloyd Douglas v. City of Kemp 05-14-00475-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, June 9, 2015).

The Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of a plea to the jurisdiction in this suit for the alleged failure to honor a tax abatement.

Douglas alleged he negotiated a tax abatement with the Mayor of Kemp in order to construct a nursing facility.  However, when Douglas received his tax statement it made no mention of the abatement.  He sued in response. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction which the trial court granted and Douglas appealed.

The court first held offering a tax abatement is still part of the governmental function of tax collection and is not proprietary. As a result, governmental immunity applies to the negligent misrepresentation claims. Additionally, Douglas failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under the Texas Tax Code for declaratory judgment. The crux of his claim is an “invalid tax assessment” which must go through the procedures in the Tax Code. This also resolves his contract claims without the court having to decide on whether the governmental/proprietary dichotomy applies in contracts. Finally, Douglas failed to properly argue/brief his promissory estoppel claim, so the court need not address it. The granting of the plea is affirmed.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel:  Justice Francis, Justice Lang-Miers and Justice Whitehill. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Lang-Miers.  The attorneys listed for the City are Francisco Valenzuela   and Thomas P. Brandt.  The attorneys listed for Douglas are Scott W. Weatherford  and George Breck Harrison