Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cooksey v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

April 11, 2017

ANTOINETTE COOKSEY, Appellant
v.
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 405th District Court Galveston County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 14-CV-0768

          Panel consists of Justices Jennings, Higley, and Massengale.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Michael Massengale Justice

         This is an appeal from the trial court's grant of a plea to the jurisdiction. Appellant Antoinette Cooksey sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice based on injuries she sustained in a car accident. TDCJ filed a plea to the jurisdiction, contending that Cooksey had failed to provide it with notice of her claims. The trial court granted the jurisdictional plea.

         In her sole issue on appeal, Cooksey argues that the trial court erred by granting TDCJ's plea to the jurisdiction because it had actual notice of her claims. Because Cooksey's evidence did not raise a fact issue regarding whether TDCJ had actual subjective awareness of its alleged fault in causing her injuries, we affirm.

         Background

         Two employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Officer Amanda Dewalt and Officer Paulette Bryant, were assigned to transport an inmate, Antoinette Cooksey, from the Lane Murray Unit to the Carole Young Medical Facility. Cooksey was wheelchair bound, which required the officers to transport her in a special wheelchair-accessible van. After strapping Cooksey and her wheelchair into the van, the officers departed for the medical facility. On the way, a drunk driver hit the back of the van, causing it to swerve into the median of the highway. After the accident, the officers found Cooksey lying on the floor in the back of the van, complaining of chest pains. Emergency Medical Services personnel transported Cooksey to a hospital for assessment.

         Cooksey filed a suit for damages based on injuries she sustained during the accident. In her original petition, she asserted claims against the drunk driver, the owner of the vehicle driven by the drunk driver, TDCJ, and the seller of the van driven by TDCJ officers. Cooksey later amended her petition to claim that TDCJ was responsible for her injuries caused by Officer Dewalt's alleged failure to "maintain a proper lookout or take proper evasive action to avoid the collision." Cooksey also alleged that Officer Dewalt failed to properly secure her in the van.

         In response to these allegations, TDCJ filed a plea to the jurisdiction in which it contended that Cooksey had failed to provide notice of her claims as required by the Texas Tort Claims Act. As a result, TDCJ claimed that it had not waived governmental immunity and the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Cooksey's claims against it. Cooksey filed a response, contending that formal notice was not required because TDCJ had actual notice of her claims. She attached several exhibits, consisting of documents created during the course of TDCJ's investigation.

         The evidence that Cooksey relied upon to demonstrate TDCJ's actual notice of her claims consisted of deposition testimony from Officer Dewalt, witness statements regarding the accident from Officer Dewalt and Officer Bryant, and other documents created during the course of TDCJ's investigation.

         In her deposition, Officer Dewalt testified that she received most of her training "on the job, " and she never had been to any formal training on how to transport an inmate in a wheelchair. The officers' witness statements described the events of the day of the accident, and both officers' versions of events were similar. They both discussed how Officer Dewalt followed all of the correct procedures in strapping Cooksey into the van, and they described how their van was rear-ended as they were traveling down the highway. Both witness statements described the events that transpired after the accident, including finding Cooksey lying on the floor of the van.

         Cooksey's remaining exhibits consisted of documents created during the investigation of the accident. These documents included several summaries of the accident. None of these documents discussed the procedures the officers followed in strapping Cooksey into the van in as much detail as the witness statements.

         After a hearing on the plea to the jurisdiction, the trial court granted the plea and signed a take-nothing judgment ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.