Judge grants LIT immunity in trip-and-fall suit

David Yates Apr. 19, 2010, 7:57am


Not only has Marilyn Stern-Duhon's trip-and-fall suit against the Lamar Institute of Technology been dismissed, but the judge has also ruled "that all costs incurred will be paid by the plaintiff."

Last week, the Southeast Texas Record reported on a motion to dismiss filed by LIT, in which the institution argued that it is protected by sovereign immunity in regards to a suit filed by Stern-Duhon.

Stern-Duhon tripped over an electrical-injunction box when she dismounted from a dental chair while having some free dental work done by a LIT dental hygiene student.

A plea to the jurisdiction hearing was held April 16.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, granted LIT's motion Monday, April 19.

"The court, after examining the pleadings and evidence before it ... finds that (LIT's) motions should be and are hereby granted," Judge Floyd wrote in his order. "It is further ordered ... that all costs incurred will be paid by the plaintiff."

Originally, Stern-Duhon filed suit against the college on Feb. 28, 2008, claiming an LIT dental technician forced her to exit the chair from the wrong side.

Court papers show that she left the dental chair during an examination in order to go to the restroom.

In her suit, Stern-Duhon claimed LIT's negligence caused her injuries by painting the electrical box with a color resembling the floor's color.

LIT filed a plea to the jurisdiction and motion to dismiss on Feb. 26, 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."

Judge Floyd dismissed the case with prejudice.

Stern-Duhon 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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