Appeal from the 281st District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2014-19908
consists of Justices Jennings, Higley, and Lloyd.
Russell Lloyd Justice.
Rampersad appeals the trial court's order granting
summary judgment in favor of CenterPoint Energy Houston
Electric, LLC on his negligence claim. Rampersad contends
that the trial court erred in granting CenterPoint's
traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment
because CenterPoint failed to conclusively negate the
elements of duty, breach, and causation. We affirm.
approximately 4:00 p.m. on October 21, 2013, Rampersad was
traveling on his motorcycle when he was struck by another
driver as he entered the intersection of Queenston Boulevard
and Forest Heights Boulevard in Northwest Houston (the
"intersection"). Rampersad's left leg was severely
injured in the accident, which ultimately required amputation
of his leg below the knee.
before the collision, at approximately 3:55 p.m., a stirrup
clamp connecting CenterPoint's primary power line to a
utility pole approximately 2.5 miles away failed, causing the
line to fall. This caused the circuit that serviced the
traffic lights at the intersection to become de-energized and
the traffic lights to stop working. The stirrup clamp in
question was thirty-three years old. The undisputed evidence
shows that, within three minutes of the outage, CenterPoint
dispatched linemen to the location of the stirrup clamp
failure to identify, troubleshoot, and repair the problem.
Two minutes later, the accident occurred.
record reflects that, at the time of the accident,
CenterPoint had not been notified of the inoperative traffic
lights at the intersection. It is undisputed that the power
outage was not scheduled, planned, or otherwise caused by any
contemporaneous action taken by CenterPoint.
accident report prepared by the responding officer states, in
pertinent part, "At the time of the accident, the
traffic control lights were disabled. There was no power
operating the lights and there were no other forms of traffic
control at the intersection informing motorist[s] of the
power outage." The report further notes that Rampersad
"failed to yield the right-of-way and entered the
intersection without stopping."
deposition, Rampersad testified that, as he approached the
intersection, he noticed that the traffic signal was not
working and that he came to a complete stop. He further
testified that the other vehicle never stopped at the
intersection. When asked what he thought the other driver
could have done differently to avoid the accident, Rampersad
stated, "[w]atch a little closer to see what is-what is
upcoming in front of her and slow down or stop or blow [her]
horn, something like that."
sued Centerpoint for negligence, alleging, among other
things, that CenterPoint failed to properly install, inspect,
and maintain the stirrup clamp. CenterPoint filed a hybrid
no-evidence and traditional motion for summary judgment on
Rampersad's claims as well as a motion to exclude the
testimony of Rampersad's designated expert, Graviel
Garcia. Following a hearing, the trial court granted
CenterPoint's summary judgment motion and denied
CenterPoint's motion to exclude Garcia's testimony as
moot. Rampersad filed a motion for new trial and motion for
reconsideration which the trial court denied. This appeal
moved for summary judgment on Rampersad's negligence
cause of action on the grounds that Rampersad presented no
evidence to satisfy the elements of duty and breach, and that
the evidence conclusively established that CenterPoint's
installation of the stirrup clamp was not the proximate cause
of Rampersad's injuries. On appeal, Rampersad argues that
the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor
of CenterPoint because a fact issue exists as to each of
Standard of Review
review a trial court's summary judgment de novo.
Travelers Ins. Co. v. Joachim, 315 S.W.3d 860, 862
(Tex. 2010). When reviewing a summary judgment motion, we
must (1) take as true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant
and (2) indulge every reasonable inference and resolve any
doubts in the nonmovant's favor. Valence Operating
Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tex. 2005) (citing
Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Knott, 128
S.W.3d 211, 215 (Tex. 2003)). If a trial court grants summary
judgment without specifying the grounds for granting the
motion, we must uphold the trial court's judgment if any
one of the grounds is meritorious. Beverick v. Koch
Power, Inc., 186 S.W.3d 145, 148 (Tex. App.- Houston
[1st Dist] 2005, pet. denied).
traditional summary judgment motion, the movant has the
burden to show that no genuine issue of material fact exists
and that the trial court should grant judgment as a matter of
law. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c); KPMG Peat Marwick v. Harrison
Cty. Hous. Fin. Corp., 988 S.W.2d 746, 748 (Tex. 1999).
A defendant moving for traditional summary judgment must
conclusively negate at least one essential element of each of
the plaintiffs causes of action or conclusively establish
each element of an affirmative defense. Sci. Spectrum,
Inc. v. Martinez, 941 S.W.2d 910, 911 (Tex. 1997).
no-evidence motion for summary judgment, the movant asserts
that there is no evidence to support an essential element of
the nonmovant ' s claim on which the nonmovant would have
the burden of proof at trial. See Tex. R. Civ. P.
166a(i); Hahn v. Love,321 S.W.3d 517, 523-24 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2009, pet. denied). The burden then
shifts to the nonmovant to present evidence raising a genuine
issue of material fact as to each of ...