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DFW International Airport Board v. Boykin

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

January 30, 2014

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT BOARD APPELLANT
v.
YSENIA BOYKIN APPELLEE

FROM THE 153RD DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY

PANEL: DAUPHINOT, WALKER, and MCCOY, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

LEE ANN DAUPHINOT JUSTICE

This is a premises liability suit. Appellee Ysenia Boykin, an employee of American Airlines, sued Appellant DFW International Airport Board[2] for negligence after she slipped and fell at DFW airport on August 19, 2009. DFW filed a motion for summary judgment challenging the trial court's jurisdiction on the ground that Boykin had failed to comply with the statutory notice provision in civil practice and remedies code section 101.101.[3] The trial court denied the motion, and DFW filed this accelerated interlocutory appeal.[4] Because we hold that the evidence did not establish that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, we affirm the trial court's order.

Background

In her pleadings, Boykin alleged that the accident happened about 11:00 a.m. on August 19, 2009 as "she exited at Terminal D parking garage and proceeded across the pedestrian walkway towards Terminal D of the DFW Airport." Boykin described the circumstances of the accident, stating that as she "approached the bank of elevators, her feet slipped out from under her and she fell due to the unreasonably dangerous condition of the premises, specifically, a walkway covered with a slippery and oily substance."

Boykin alleged that DFW had knowledge of the condition and that the oily substance in the walkway was an unreasonable, dangerous condition. She also sued the maintenance company that she alleged was "contractually obligated to perform the maintenance and cleaning of the premises."

DFW filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion included two grounds. One ground was that there was no evidence that DFW knew or should have known of the condition about which Boykin complained. The other ground, which is the focus of this appeal, challenged the trial court's jurisdiction based on lack of notice. DFW asserted that it is a unit of local government entitled to notice of a claim under civil practice and remedies code section 101.101(a) and that Boykin had failed to provide the required written notice of her claim within six months of the date of the incident.[5] It further asserted that it did not have actual notice of the claim under section 101.101(c).[6]

DFW stated that it did not receive written notice of the claim until it was served with Boykin's original petition on August 29, 2011. It attached to its motion an excerpt from Boykin's deposition in which she stated that she did not verbally report her fall to anyone at DFW and that she did not send a letter, memo, or e-mail to anyone at DFW. DFW further attached the affidavit of a claims manager for DFW, stating that DFW records showed no written notice from Boykin regarding Boykin's injury within six months of the accident.

Boykin filed a response to the motion. Regarding the notice ground, Boykin asserted that DFW had actual notice of her claim. She supported this assertion with deposition testimony and reports created by DFW employees.

The trial court denied the motion. DFW then filed this appeal arguing that the trial court erred by concluding that it had jurisdiction.

Standard of Review

Whether undisputed jurisdictional evidence establishes a trial court's jurisdiction is a question of law that we review de novo.[7] But in some cases, disputed jurisdictional evidence creates a fact question to be resolved by the fact finder.[8]

A defendant may challenge the trial court's jurisdiction in a motion for summary judgment.[9] In a summary judgment case, the issue on appeal is whether the movant met the summary judgment burden by establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists ...


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