TOMA case remanded for trial… again

Rebecca Terrell and Chandrashekhar Thanedar v. Pampa Independent School District, 07-14-00014-CV (Tex. App. – Amarillo, February 1, 2016).

This is a Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”) case where the Amarillo Court of Appeals withdrew its October 29, 2015 opinion and replaced it with this one. Summary of withdrawn opinion found here.

This is actually the second appeal in the case. The trial court originally granted PISDs summary judgment. The first appeal resulted in the court remanding the case back to the trial court by holding a fact issue existed on a proper TOMA internet posting. However, the court did not affirm or deny the other summary judgment claims. Upon remand, the trial court only allowed the Plaintiffs to try the internet posting allegations. The trial court issued a take nothing judgment on that issue. In the withdrawn opinion, the court held it did not have jurisdiction for the appeal because the judgment was not final and did not dispose of all issues.

In this new opinion, the court reconsidered its original holding and noted that the judgment said it was final, is therefore presumed to be final, and the court therefore had jurisdiction to hear the appeal.  However, the court then determined that since the trial court improperly limited the Plaintiffs to only the internet posting allegations, not all of the allegations they properly brought, the case should be remanded for a new trial. [Comment: This still missed the procedural mark as, if the “untried” claims were addressed in the summary judgment, the trial court properly limited the trial. I believe the court should have addressed whether the summary judgment was proper on the remaining claims before considering whether a reversal is appropriate.]

If you would  like to read this opinion click here.