City seeks immunity in tractor collision suit but fails to attend dismissal hearing

David Yates Aug. 3, 2010, 10:00am

Arguing that it has governmental immunity, the city of Beaumont filed a motion to dismiss in a lawsuit over an employee who allegedly backed his tractor into plaintiff Joanna Prejean's vehicle.

However, minutes before a hearing over the matter was set to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 3, the city called and cancelled, offering no reason for the cancellation.

A courthouse official told the Southeast Texas Record the city also declined to reset the hearing for a later date.

As the Record reported in March, Prejean filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court claiming she was driving down Scranton Street in Beaumont on March 27, 2008, when Louis Joseph Gilder, who was driving a tractor for the city, backed into her vehicle.

In her suit, Prejean alleges that because of the collision she incurred medical costs and property damage; lost her earnings and her earning capacity; and suffered physical impairment, pain and mental anguish.

A few weeks after the suit was filed, Senior Assistant City Attorney Quentin Price filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the city is a governmental body protected from civil litigation.

Jonathan Juhan of Beaumont is representing Prejean.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, is presiding over the case.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D186-166.

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