Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 73rd Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016CI09979 Honorable Michael E. Mery, Judge
Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa,
Justice, Irene Rios, Justice
City of San Antonio appeals from an interlocutory order
denying its plea to the jurisdiction. We affirm.
30, 2015, Frank Gonzales, an on-duty San Antonio City Park
Police Officer driving a police car, rear-ended a van driven
by Carlos Mendoza. Shortly after the accident, Gonzales's
supervisor, Fidencio Herrera, arrived at the scene to
investigate and spoke to Gonzales and Mendoza. Herrera
prepared investigative reports concerning the accident.
a year later, Mendoza sued the City of San Antonio for
damages under the Texas Tort Claims Act, alleging that
Gonzales's negligence had caused the accident and that
Mendoza had sustained serious and permanent bodily injury in
the accident. Mendoza's petition also alleged that the
City was provided with formal and actual notice of his
City generally denied the allegations in Mendoza's
petition. The City also filed a plea to the jurisdiction,
arguing the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction
because Mendoza had failed to provide it with timely notice,
either actual or formal, of his claim as required by law. In
response, Mendoza did not dispute that his formal notice was
untimely but argued that he had satisfied the notice
requirement because he had told Gonzales and Herrera about
his injury at the scene of the accident. Therefore, according
to Mendoza, the City had actual notice of his injury. After a
hearing, the trial court denied the plea to the jurisdiction.
The City appealed.
a waiver, governmental entities are generally immune from
suits for damages. Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. at Dallas
v. Estate of Arancibia, 324 S.W.3d 544, 546 (Tex. 2010).
The Texas Tort Claims Act waives immunity from suit for
negligent acts in certain circumstances, including personal
injury arising from the operation or use of a motor-driven
vehicle. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 101.021
(West 2011). To take advantage of this waiver, a claimant
must notify the governmental unit of the negligent act not
later than six months after the day that the incident giving
rise to the claim occurred. Id. § 101.101(a).
The notice must reasonably describe the injury, the time and
place of the incident, and the incident itself. Id.;
Arancibia, 324 S.W.3d at 546. However, formal notice
is not required "if the governmental unit has actual
notice" "that the claimant has received some
injury." Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
purpose of section 101.101's notice requirement is to
ensure the prompt reporting of claims in order to enable
governmental units to gather information necessary to guard
against unfounded claims, settle claims, and prepare for
trial. Cathey v. Booth, 900 S.W.2d 339, 341 (Tex.
1995). "The notice required by section 101.101 is
jurisdictional and is a condition of the Act's waiver of
immunity from suit." City of San Antonio v.
Cervantes, 521 S.W.3d 390, 393 (Tex. App.-San Antonio
2017, no pet.); see Tex. Gov't Code Ann. §
311.034 (West 2013). Thus, in the absence of timely notice of
a claim, a governmental unit retains its immunity from suit.
Cervantes, 521 S.W.3d at 393-94 (citing City of
Dallas v. Carbajal, 324 S.W.3d 537, 537-38 (Tex. 2010)).
to the Jurisdiction
immunity from suit defeats a trial court's subject-matter
jurisdiction, it may be raised in a plea to the jurisdiction.
Tex. Dep't of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda,
133 S.W.3d 217, 225-26 (Tex. 2004). "[A] court deciding
a plea to the jurisdiction is not required to look solely to
the pleadings but may consider evidence and must do so when
necessary to resolve the jurisdictional issues raised."
Bland Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Blue, 34 S.W.3d 547, 555
(Tex. 2000). A plaintiff bears the burden of affirmatively
demonstrating a trial court's jurisdiction. Heckman
v. Williamson Cnty., 369 S.W.3d 137, 150 (Tex. 2012);
Cervantes, 521 S.W.3d at 394.
a case in which the jurisdictional challenge implicates the
merits of the plaintiffs' cause of action and the plea to
the jurisdiction includes evidence, the trial court reviews
the relevant evidence to determine if a fact issue
exists." Miranda, 133 S.W.3d at 227. This
standard generally mirrors the standard employed in
evaluating summary judgments. Id. at 228. A
jurisdictional issue implicates the merits of a case when the
determination of many, if not most, of the challenged
jurisdictional facts will also determine whether ...