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.

Smith v. The City of Garland

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

April 20, 2017

RANDY E. SMITH, Appellant
v.
THE CITY OF GARLAND, TEXAS, MICHAEL ARRIAGA, MICHAEL BAKER, DUSTIN BARKER, RANDY M. BARKER, ERIC BROOKS, THOMAS BUCHANAN, RONALD BUTLER, KRISTOPHER CHITTY, WILLIAM CREWS, BRANDON DAY, ROBERT ESTES, JAMES FENNELL, ROBERT FULTZ, DUSTIN GILLETTE, GREGORY GOFF, JON GOMEZ, STEVEN HARRIS, JEFFREY HENDERSON, WILLIAM HENSON, JEREMY HOUSE, GREGORY HUFF, WILLIAM JOHNSON, MICHAEL KASPER, TRACY KINNARD, THOMAS LITTLE, GLEN LAUTH, ERICLOVETT, JACOB MOUNT, SAMUEL MUTRUX, CLOYCE PURCELL, BRYAN RAY, CHARLIE RIGGS, GREGG ROGERS, RONALD SHORT, WADE STONE, MICHAELSTRIBLING, JOSEPH STUCHLY, CORY TROWBRIDGE, DANIEL UECKERT, ADAM UMPENOUR, BRIAN WARD, HARLEY WARREN, CHRISTOPHER WHITE, CHARLES WILLIAMS, AND JASON ZITO, Appellees

         On Appeal from the 14th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-15-00418

          Before Justices Evans, Stoddart, and Boatright

          OPINION

          Boatright Justice

         This is a dispute about promotions in the City of Garland ("City") fire department. The City sued appellant Randy E. Smith and many other City fire fighters, including the people who are now appellees in this case. The City voluntarily dismissed Smith from the suit, but he later intervened, suing the City and the fire fighters who the City had not dismissed from the case. The City and the fire fighters moved to strike Smith's intervention, and for entry of final judgment. The trial court granted their motions, and Smith now appeals, challenging the trial court's jurisdiction and asserting that the trial court abused its discretion in striking his intervention. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         Smith and the individual appellees ("Fire Fighter appellees") are employed by the City. Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code governs promotion of fire fighters employed by the City. Tex. Loc. Gov't Code Ann. §§ 143.001-143.403 (West 2008 & Supp. 2016). Positions in the fire department "may be filled only from an eligibility list that results from an examination" held in accordance with Chapter 143. Id. § 143.021(c).

         The City sued Smith and the Fire Fighter appellees seeking declaratory relief after it "became aware that two or more firefighters had engaged in an elaborate scheme to obtain promotions by cheating on civil service promotional examinations, " as it alleged in its original petition. The City undertook an investigation, which resulted in the resignation of three fire fighters who had been promoted. The resignations created vacancies, but only after the eligibility lists based on the examinations in question had expired.

         In its petition, the City complained that other fire fighters who had participated in the examinations "alleged that the City was required to adjust the rank and seniority of fire fighters affected by the scheme to cheat on the exam." The City also alleged, "[i]n addition, fire fighters who intended to take the promotional examination in the future would be affected by any adjustment to seniority or rank made by the City as a result of the scheme to cheat on examinations." The City alleged that Chapter 143 prohibited it from adjusting the rank and seniority of any fire fighters after the promotional lists were certified by the Garland Civil Service Commission (the "Commission"). The City sought a declaration that "it is not required to adjust the rank or seniority of any fire fighters who were affected by the cheating scheme." In the alternative, the City sought a declaration that "fire fighters taking future promotional examinations . . . are not entitled to further relief from the City."

         Smith did not take the promotional exam affected by the cheating and subsequent resignations. Consequently, he was not on the eligibility lists for promotion. He was on the eligibility list for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant, however, at the time the trial court rendered judgment in this suit. The City sued Smith, so he appeared and answered the suit, but he did not propound any discovery requests and did not seek any relief from the trial court other than dismissal of the City's claims.

         The Fire Fighter appellees filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. They alleged that the promotions that were made as a result of the cheating scheme described in the City's petition were "void ab initio because they were not the result of competitive promotional examinations, as required by Chapter 143." They alleged that "a number" of the Fire Fighter appellees "were deprived of promotions to which they were rightfully entitled." They sought (1) a declaration that certain of them were entitled to retroactive promotion because of the City's failure to fill vacancies in accordance with Chapter 143; and (2) injunctive relief "effectuating the retroactive promotions, " including back pay.

         The City and the Fire Fighter appellees subsequently agreed that (1) the seniority dates and/or the ranks of seven of the Fire Fighter appellees would be adjusted; (2) none of the Fire Fighter appellees would receive an award of back pay; and (3) the City would non suit its claims against the remaining Fire Fighter appellees. The City non suited its claims against all but the seven Fire Fighter appellees whose seniority dates and/or ranks were to be adjusted.

         Smith, however, intervened in the lawsuit after the City's nonsuit of its claims against him. Claiming that the promotions of the seven Fire Fighter appellees would "adversely affect [his] rights under Chapter 143, " Smith sought a declaration that "the City is prohibited from adjusting the rank or seniority of any firefighters, including but not limited to those alleging they were affected by the alleged cheating, other than in strict accordance with Chapter 143." The City and the Fire Fighter appellees filed motions to strike the intervention, which the trial court granted after a hearing on January 20, 2016.

         The trial court rendered final judgment on January 25, 2016. The judgment recites that the trial court previously (1) entered orders of non suit regarding all of the Fire Fighter appellees other than the seven whose seniority dates or ranks were adjusted, and (2) struck Smith's intervention. This appeal followed. In three issues, Smith asserts (1) he had standing to file a motion for new trial, so that his notice of appeal was timely; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in striking his intervention; and (3) the trial court's judgment is void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We first address the questions regarding the jurisdiction of this Court and of the trial court.

         Jurisdiction

         A. ...


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.