Failing to prohibit bicyclist on platform does not fall within immunity waiver under TTCA

John Williams v. DART Transit, 05-14-01303-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, February 1, 2016)

This is a Texas Tort Claims Act/premise defect case where the Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of DART’s plea to the jurisdiction.

Williams was a passenger on a DART train which stopped at the American Airlines Center rail station. After Williams got off the train, he was hit by a bicyclist and injured. Williams alleged DART was negligent by failing to post signs at the station that prohibited activities such as bicycling near or around the area of the platform.  DART filed a plea to the jurisdiction which the trial court granted. Williams appealed.

The court first held DART was a governmental unit entitled to immunity absent a waiver and the operation at the platform was not proprietary.  Williams argued he was injured as a result of a condition of the station.  However, as such, he must meet the heightened standards of a premises defect claim set out in §101.022 of the Texas Tort Claims Act.  Williams alleges the lack of a sign prohibiting certain activities at the rail station was the premises defect. However, DART’s failure to post such a sign did not injure Williams; rather, Williams pleaded that he was injured by a third-party bicyclist. As a result, the pleadings clearly negate a waiver of immunity and the plea was properly granted.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Justice Fillmore, Justice Myers and Justice Whitehill. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Fillmore. The attorney listed for DART is Joycell Marie Hollins.  Williams appeared pro se.