Whistleblower must allege more than conclusory statement of general criminal activity says Waco Court of Appeals

Bell County, Texas v. Tom Kozeny, 10-14-00021-CV (Tex. App. – Waco, September 26, 2014). This is a Whistleblower Act case where the Waco Court of Appeals reversed the denial of the County’s plea to the jurisdiction but remanded to allow Plaintiff to replead. Kozeny was an employee of Bell County at the Juvenile Center and had been tasked with investigating the falsification of training records. He reported to the First Assistant District Attorney and discussed at length the falsification of such records. He alleges he was terminated within 90 days of making that report. The County filed a plea to the jurisdiction which the trial court denied. The crux of the County’s appeal is that Kozeny’s pleading did not specify the criminal law allegedly violated. The court agreed the conclusory statement in the pleadings that only asserted he reported “the falsification of training records. . . .which is a crime” was insufficient to invoke jurisdiction. However, the pleadings do not negate jurisdiction either, so the Plaintiff should be given the opportunity to replead and allege more than vague conclusory statements sufficient to invoke the trial court’s jurisdiction. If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis and Justice Scoggins. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Davis. The attorneys listed for the County are John T. Hawkins and Joe A. Rivera. The attorney listed for Kozeny is Rebecca L. Fisher