Tenth Court of Appeals Rules City is Immune From Suit

Immunity Road Sign

On November 1, 2012, the Tenth Court of Appeals held that the City of Bruceville-Eddy was immune from being sued in a declaratory judgment action brought by Daniel Ferguson, former Chief of Police.  See City of Bruceville-Eddy v. Daniel Ferguson, No. 10-12-00109-CV. The trial court had previously denied the City’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.  The City argued that it is immune from a suit for money damages and that immunity has not been waived by the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act  (“UDJA”).

Ferguson filed his suit under the UDJA, which waives immunity for certain challenges to the validity of a municipal ordinance or statute, but it is not a general waiver of immunity.  However, Ferguson did not challenge the validity of a municipal ordinance or statute.  Instead, he requested a declaration that the City violated Sections 614.022 – 614.023 of the Texas Government Code.  The appellate court held this is simply a suit for money damages, and the City is immune. There was no challenge to the validity of an ordinance or statute, and thus the City’s immunity was not waived for his suit.

The Tenth Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and rendered judgment that Ferguson’s claims be dismissed.