Reasonable inference from affidavit can create a fact issue says 13th Court of Appeals

Texas Department of Public Safety v. Raquel Guzman 13-13-00590-CV (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi November 13, 2014)

This is an interlocutory appeal in a premise defect case where the trial court denied the DPS plea to the jurisdiction and the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals affirmed.

Guzman entered the DPS office to deal with a driver’s license matter, slipped and fell on the floor due to water. A DPS custodian was mopping nearby. DPS filed a plea to the jurisdiction alleging a lack of actual knowledge of a dangerous condition and attached the custodian’s affidavit asserting he had not mopped that area at the time Guzman fell. The trial court denied the plea and DPS appealed.

The court held that Guzman’s affidavit asserted she fell due to water on the floor. Given her expressed observations of the area just prior to her fall, she could reasonable infer the water was due to the custodian’s mopping. Since every reasonable inference must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, the court concluded a fact issue existed as to whether or not the custodian had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition. The fact she did not actually see him mop the area is not determinative. Additionally, the court upheld the trial court’s denial of DPS objections to strike the affidavit, noting her statements were reasonably supported in the affidavit with observed facts.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Justice Garza, Justice Benavides and Justice Perkes. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Perkes.  The attorneys listed for Appellee Guzman are Malorie Peacock, Charles Mattingly and Michael Cowen.  The attorney listed for the Appellant Texas Dept. of Public Safety is Elsa Nava.