Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 of Nueces County,
Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Benavides and Hinojosa.
M. BENAVIDES, Justice.
issued our original memorandum opinion and dissenting opinion
on March 9, 2017. Appellant Donnie Doyle Brown filed a motion
for rehearing. After due consideration, and within our
plenary power, we sua sponte withdraw our previous
memorandum opinion, dissenting memorandum opinion, and
judgment and substitute the following memorandum opinion,
dissenting memorandum opinion, and judgment in their place.
We deny Brown's motion for rehearing, with a notation
that Chief Justice Valdez would grant Brown's motion.
See Tex. R. App. P. 19.1. By one issue, Brown
appeals the trial court's grant of a plea to the
jurisdiction in favor of appellee, the Corpus Christi
Regional Transportation Authority ("RTA"). We
4, 2012, a RTA bus ("the bus") reported an accident
to police near the intersection of South Alameda Street and
Texas Trail in Corpus Christi. According to the police
report, the bus travelled along its route on Alameda Street,
stopped at a bus stop in which two individuals were at the
stop, but only one of the individuals boarded the bus. The
other individual-later identified as Brown-stayed behind at
the stop. Almost immediately after boarding, the passenger
who had just boarded asked the driver to exit the bus. The
bus driver stopped the bus and complied to let him off the
bus. As the bus began to move again, Brown now attempted to
board the bus, lost his balance along the curb, fell to the
ground, and the bus's right rear tire ran over
Brown's left arm causing Brown injury.
investigating police officer's report placed fault for
the accident solely on Brown and did not attribute any fault
to RTA. RTA collected statements from the bus's driver,
Angelo Franzone, contact information from other riders on the
bus, and conducted its own internal investigation of the
incident. Nothing in those internal investigation reports
expressly blames, fully or in part, Franzone or RTA.
two years later, Brown filed suit against RTA alleging a
cause of action for negligence and sought damages. RTA
answered and shortly thereafter filed a plea to the
jurisdiction alleging that Brown failed to meet the formal
notice provision of the Texas Tort Claims Act nor did RTA
have actual notice of Brown's claim, to invoke the trial
court's subject-matter jurisdiction. See Tex.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 101.101 (West, Westlaw
through 2015 R.S.) (providing that notice is a jurisdictional
requirement in all suits against a governmental entity); Tex.
Gov't Code Ann. § 311.034 (West, Westlaw through
2015 R.S.). In response, Brown did not dispute that he failed
to provide formal written notice under section 101.101(a) of
the civil practice and remedies code to RTA, but asserted
that RTA had actual notice of his claim. See id.
trial court granted RTA's plea to the jurisdiction and
dismissed Brown's claims against RTA. This appeal
Plea to the Jurisdiction
sole issue, Brown asserts that the trial court erred by
granting RTA's plea to the jurisdiction.
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
purpose of a plea to the jurisdiction is to "defeat a
cause of action without regard to whether the claims asserted
have merit." Bland Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Blue,
34 S.W.3d 547, 554 (Tex. 2000). A challenge to the trial
court's subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law
that we review de novo. Tex. Dep't of Parks &
Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 226 (Tex. 2004).
101.101 of the Texas Tort Claims Act ("TTCA"),
"titled 'Notice, ' provides that a governmental
unit is entitled to receive notice of a damage or injury
claim against it not later than six months after the day the
incident giving rise to the claim
occurred." Id. (citing Tex. Civ. Prac. &
Rem. Code Ann. § 101.101(a)). Failure of a claimant to
provide the requisite notice deprives a trial court of
subject matter jurisdiction. Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med.
Center at Dallas v. Estate of Arancibia ex rel.
Vasquez-Arancibia, 324 S.W.3d 544, 548 (Tex. 2010)
(explaining that the purported failure to provide notice
would deprive the trial court of jurisdiction); see also
Prairie View A&M Univ. v. Chatha, 381 S.W.3d 500,
511 (Tex. 2012) (providing that any "[s]tatutory
prerequisites to a suit, including the provision of notice,
are jurisdictional requirements in all suits against a
subsection (c) of section 101.101 provides that "[t]he
notice requirements provided . . . by Subsection[ ] (a) . . .
do not apply [in pertinent part] if the governmental unit has
actual notice that [. . . ]the claimant has received some
injury." Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
101.101(c); Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Center at Dallas,
324 S.W.3d at 548 (explaining that section 101.101 does not
require written notice if a governmental unit has
"actual notice" of the injury).
Texas Supreme Court stated that it had "rejected an
interpretation of actual notice that would 'require[ ]
only that a governmental unit have knowledge of a
death, an injury, or property damage, ' because a
defendant, like a hospital, would then have 'to
investigate the standard of care provided to each and every
patient that received treatment, ' eviscerating the
notice requirement's purpose." Id.
(emphasis in original). Instead, the Texas Supreme Court
"held that the governmental unit had to know of its
'alleged fault producing or contributing to the death,
injury, or property damage.'" Id. The court
explained that under section 101.101 actual awareness means
that the ...