Beaumont appeals immunity ruling in Klein harassment suit

David Yates Jan. 9, 2012, 7:00am


With an appeal pending, the city of Beaumont has filed a motion for stay, arguing a local judge erred in not granting its plea to the jurisdiction in a suit alleging police officers harassed Klein Investigations & Consulting process servers.

As previously reported, Klein Investigations, which is owned by political commentator and local blogger Philip Klein, filed the suit March 14 in Jefferson County District Court.

On June 17 the city filed its plea, asserting that it enjoys sovereign immunity under the Texas Constitution and its unincorporated entity, the Beaumont Police Department, lacks the legal capacity to be sued, court records show.

Klein Investigations filed a response on June 21, maintaining that a municipality is liable for damages from torts arising in its governmental functions.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, denied the city's motion on Oct. 19, court records show.

On Nov. 1 the city filed its notice of appeal, contending the trial court erred. Two days later, the city filed a motion for automatic stay because of the pending appeal, court papers say.

Klein Investigations, in addition to investigative work, deals in civil process serving, dishing out lawsuits and subpoenas to area residents.

"On more than one occasion, officers of the Beaumont Police Department have accused process servers of criminal trespass and stalking ... that is, the defendants are trying to impose penal sanctions upon a lawful business within the state of Texas," the suit states.

"The criminal trespass warning demonstrates that there is an actual case or controversy that can be subjected to declaratory judgment."

On top of declaratory judgment, Klein Investigations is seeking an award of court costs.

Beaumont attorney John Morgan represents the company.

Assistant City Attorney Sharae Bassett represents the city.

Case No. B189-589

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