Declaratory Judgment claims not allowed to seek interpretation of entity policy says Waco Court of Appeals

Ceellu Williams v Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, 10-15-00005-CV (Tex.App. –Waco, May 22, 2015).

This is an appeal from the granting of a plea to the jurisdiction where the Waco Court of Appeals held there was no waiver of immunity under the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act to merely seek declarations of rights or status under an entity policy.

Williams was a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (“TTUHSC”). She failed one internship course but repeated and passed. However, when she failed another internship course (unrelated to the first) TTUHSC dismissed her from the program citing a policy that “a student may repeat a Clinical Internship course only once during his or her enrollment in the DPT Program.”  She filed suit seeking a declaration of her rights under the policy. TUHSC filed a plea to the jurisdiction which the trial court granted and Williams appealed.

The Waco Court of Appeals held that while a UDJA claim to declare rights under a policy, statute, or contract may be valid against a private party, it is not valid against a governmental entity. And since there is no waiver of immunity for such a claim, the plea was properly granted.

If you would like to read this opinion click here.  Opinion by Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Scoggins.  Memorandum opinion by Chief Justice Gray.  Attorney for Appellee is Drew L Harris.  Attorney for Appellant is J. Shelby Sharpe.