The use of baton and jail facility to arrest defendant were intentional acts not negligent acts under the Texas Tort Claims Act says 4th Court of Appeals

City of Laredo, Texas v. Julian Jacobo Reyna, 04-15-00147-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, July 22, 2015)

This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction in a Texas Tort Claims Act (“TTCA”) case where the San Antonio Court of Appeals reversed the denial and dismissed the Plaintiff’s claims.

Reyna was arrested by Officer Rodriguez of the Laredo Police Department.  During the arrest Rodriguez and Reyna got into a scuffle which resulted in Reyna needing medical attention. Reyna sued the City under the Texas Tort Claims Act alleging Rodriguez used a baton (i.e. tangible personal property) to negligently inflict injury. He further alleged the use of the county jail was the utilization of real property and the City negligently supervised and trained Rodriguez. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction which was denied and the City appealed.

The court first held The TTCA does not apply to a claim “arising out of assault, battery, false imprisonment, or any other intentional tort.” As a result, no waiver of governmental immunity exists for the scuffle. As to the false imprisonment by using the jail, the use of real or tangible personal property to accomplish an intentional tort “is encompassed within the exclusion of claims arising from intentional torts.”  The use of the baton and the jail were done intentionally, not negligently, therefore the TTCA does not apply. Additionally, because Reyna’s allegations of negligent hiring, retention, training, and supervision of Officer Rodriguez involve the transfer and receipt of information and not the use of tangible personal property or real property, they do not demonstrate a valid waiver of immunity. And because the facts alleged demonstrate an absence of a waiver of immunity, the issue of official immunity need not be addressed. All of Reyna’s claims were dismissed with prejudice.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice Karen Angelini, and Justice Rebeca C. Martinez.  Memorandum Opinion by Justice Chapa. The attorney listed for City of Laredo, Texas is Mr. Albert Lopes.  The attorneys listed for the Julian Jocobo Reyna is Mr. Andres Reyes.