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Denial of Beaumont's plea to jurisdiction upheld in case over accident allegedly caused by manhole

Lawsuits

By Takesha Thomas | Oct 8, 2018

Gavel

BEAUMONT – An appeals court has affirmed a trial court's ruling in a case over alleged injuries a man sustained in accident caused by a manhole.

The city of Beaumont had filed an interlocutory appeal in the Court of Appeals for the 9th District of Texas at Beaumont. The court upheld Sept. 27 the 172nd District Court of Jefferson County's order from April that denied the city of Beaumont a plea to jurisdiction. 

"Because the city failed to conclusively prove how the collision occurred, we hold the trial court did not err by denying the city’s plea," Justice Hollis Horton wrote.

According to the ruling, the city argued that the trial court could not claim subject-matter jurisdiction in the matter because the city is a government entity. 

Khalid Mahmood had filed suit against the city alleging that he was injured after a manhole operated by a city employee struck his vehicle. 

The case stems from an incident in August 2014. Mahmood alleged was driving down a Beaumont street when a large fiberglass manhole fell from one of the city’s trucks and he struck it with his van.

However, city employees involved in the incident allege that when the manhole fell off the truck, they stopped the city vehicle, got out and proceeded to divert traffic with flags. The employees allege that while they were in the process of "rolling the manhole toward the truck, Mahmood, while traveling in the outside lane, swerved" in an effort to miss one of the employees that was out diverting traffic, the ruling states. It was then, the city alleged, that Mahmood struck the manhole. 

In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Steven McKeithen found that the trial court had erred and suggested that the order denying the city's plea to the jurisdiction be reversed. He also said he would dismiss Mahmood's claim for want of jurisdiction. 

Mahmood had argued the Texas Tort Claim Act in his argument for want of jurisdiction. However, McKeithen wrote in part, "Mahmood did not demonstrate a nexus between the city employees’ use or operation of the truck, the manhole, or the strap and his alleged injury." 

McKeithen also found that Mahmood "failed to demonstrate that the manhole was being put into service, employed or applied for a particular purpose, or being used in the doing or performing of a practical work when his alleged injury occurred," the opinion states.

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