LIT claims immunity, wants trip-and-fall case dismissed

David Yates Apr. 14, 2010, 4:31am

Arguing that it is protected by sovereign immunity, Lamar Institute of Technology has filed a motion to dismiss a two-year-old trip-and-fall suit.

As the Southeast Texas Record reported in March 2008, Marilyn Stern-Duhon tripped over an electrical-injunction box when she dismounted from a dental chair while having some free dental work done by LIT's dental hygiene students.

She filed suit against the college on Feb. 28, 2008, claiming a Lamar dental technician forced her to exit the chair from the wrong side.

Stern-Duhon left the dental chair during an examination in order to go to the restroom, court papers say. She claims LIT's negligence caused her injuries by painting the electrical box with a color that resembled the floor's color.

On Feb. 26, LIT filed a plea to the jurisdiction and motion to dismiss, asserting that Stern-Duhon "has not alleged facts in her petition to establish a waiver of LIT's sovereign immunity."

"The evidence conclusively negates waiver," LIT's motion states. "This suit must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction."

LIT maintains that it had no awareness of a "dangerous condition" and since it "is a state governmental unit, it is entitled to the protection of sovereign immunity."

A hearing has been slated for April 16 in Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court.

Stern-Duhon claims she has suffered permanent injuries to her knee and lumbar spine.

She is suing for actual and special damages and is represented by The Hudgins Law Firm of Houston.

LIT is represented by Assistant Attorney General Jason Warner.

Case No. E181-362

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