Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 93rd District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas.
Justices Rodriguez, Benavides, and Longoria.
V. RODRIGUEZ Justice.
interlocutory appeal, appellant City of Edinburg (the City)
challenges the denial of its plea to the jurisdiction
concerning the personal injury suit brought by appellee
Melinda Balli. We reverse and render.
alleges that on May 19, 2014, she was struck by a vehicle as
she used a crosswalk near the Hidalgo County Courthouse.
According to her petition, the pedestrian traffic light
displayed a "walk" signal for pedestrians when she
began to cross North 10th Street. At the same time, the
vehicle traffic light at the intersection displayed a green
left-turn arrow, indicating that drivers had a protected left
turn onto North 10th, across the crosswalk. Cesar Pulido
turned left at the intersection and struck Balli.
filed suit against Pulido for negligent driving, and she sued
the City, Hidalgo County, and the Texas Department of
Transportation (TxDOT) for various forms of negligence
related to the traffic signals. Balli subsequently nonsuited
Hidalgo County and TxDOT, and Pulido does not participate in
the City's appeal.
supplemented her petition to elaborate on her allegations
against the City. She alleged that in April of 2001, the City
entered into a Municipal Maintenance Agreement with the State
of Texas, in which the City undertook the duty "to make
changes in the design and operation of the highway traffic
signal(s) as it may deem necessary . . . ." The City
further assumed the obligation to provide and maintain
traffic lights at various intersections, including the
intersection where Balli was injured.
to Balli's petition, the City was aware of the problem
with the traffic signals due to a similar collision on
January 17, 2012. She reported that in the prior collision,
the traffic lights at the intersection displayed conflicting
"walk" and left turn signals, and a driver turned
left and struck a pedestrian. Balli claimed that the City
became aware of the problem with the traffic lights when the
police investigated the prior collision.
alleged that despite the City's awareness, the City
failed to resolve the problem with its real property and
thereby breached its duties. The City was purportedly
negligent in failing to properly sequence or program its
traffic lights, failing to adequately maintain its traffic
lights, failing to provide safe crossing, failing to
reprogram the traffic lights within a reasonable time after
notice of previous incidents, and instead allowing a
malfunction to persist. Balli alleged that the City's
negligent acts and omissions were a proximate cause of the
collision and Balli's resulting injuries. Balli further
asserted negligence per se, in that the City allegedly
violated two laws enacted for public safety: the Texas Manual
on Uniform Traffic Control Devices section 4D.05(F)(1)(2) and
City of Edinburg Resolution No. 01-1611.
City filed a plea to the jurisdiction arguing that the
traffic lights were not malfunctioning, so as to cause a
waiver of immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA).
Instead, the City asserted that the lights were working
exactly as intended by TxDOT, which originally designed the
traffic lights to simultaneously display "walk" and
left-turn signals. The City further argued that Balli's
complaint related to the design of the roadway, which was a
matter of discretion for which there is no waiver of
City attached multiple exhibits to substantiate its plea, and
Balli responded with proof of her own. After reviewing the
evidence, the trial court denied the City's plea. This
interlocutory appeal followed.
sole issue, the City argues that it retained immunity (1)
because the traffic lights were functioning as intended at
the time of Balli's injury, and therefore they did not
constitute a wrongful "condition" of real property,
and (2) because Balli ...