BEAUMONT – An appellate court has dismissed the claims of two individuals filing on behalf of a minor who sustained an eye injury at a city-operated day camp, citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Judge Steve McKeithen, in the bench of the 9th Court of Appeals, issued a 15-page ruling on Oct. 11, reversed the Montgomery County 284th District Court's decision in the lawsuit filed by Tiffany Thomas and Edward Caldwell against the city of Conroe on behalf of a minor only identified as C.C.
"We conclude that the trial court erred in denying the city’s plea to the jurisdiction. We reverse the trial court’s order denying the city’s plea and render judgment dismissing the appellees’ claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction," McKeithen wrote.
Thomas and Caldwell sued the city on grounds of negligence, claiming that an instructor of a summer day camp operated by the city hit C.C. with a makeshift bat while playing baseball and caused C.C. to lose sight in his left eye. The event occurred in June 2017, the ruling states.
The lower court ruled in favor of the minor and the individuals, disregarding the government immunity in the case and considering that the minor was not considered camping for the purposes of the Texas Recreational Use Statute.
In its response, the city stated, as of the ruling, that Thomas and Caldwell's claims "fail because (1) the recreational use statute requires plaintiffs to prove that the city breached its duty of care by showing that the city acted with gross negligence, and (2) the city’s immunity from suit is not waived because the supervisor was not grossly negligent."
The same response pointed that the facility where the minor got injured qualified as a recreational site per the statute, also telling that the city "only owes a duty of care not to injure a person through gross negligence," the ruling mentioned.
In his ruling, McKeithen sided with the city's argument, stating that when the minor was injured, "he was engaged in 'recreation' for purposes of the statute, and the recreational use statute therefore applies to the appellees’ claims."
McKeithen also said that the lower court lacked subject matter jurisdiction in denying the city's plea and immunity.
9th District Court of Appeals case number 09-18-00215-CV