Texas justices seated on the Ninth Court of Appeals will determine whether or not a local judge erred in granting the Lamar Institute of Technology immunity in a trip-and-fall lawsuit.

In February 2008, plaintiff Marilyn Stern-Duhon sued LIT after tripping over an electrical junction during a free dental exam at the school's dental hygiene training clinic.

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, ruled that LIT had immunity from the suit on April 19, dismissing the case with prejudice.

A few days later, Stern-Duhon appealed the decision, arguing the Judge Floyd erred and asking that the case be remanded for further proceedings, court records show.

The case was submitted on briefs before Ninth Court justices on Monday, Nov. 29.
Judge Floyd had ordered the case dismissed, and "that all costs incurred" be paid by Stern-Duhon, court papers say.

LIT, a state funded institution, successfully argued that it is protected by sovereign immunity.

Court records show 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.

In her suit, Stern-Duhon claimed an LIT dental technician forced her to exit the chair from the wrong side.

She left the dental chair during an examination in order to go to the restroom.
Stern-Duhon further alleged that LIT's negligence caused her injuries by painting the electrical box with a color resembling the floor's color, the suit states.

Stern-Duhon is represented by The Hudgins Law Firm of Houston.

LIT is represented by Assistant Attorney General Jason Warner.

Jefferson County case No. E181-362
Appeals case No. 09-10-00191-CV

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