Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 of Nueces County,
Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Rodriguez and Benavides
Memorandum Opinion by Justice Rodriguez
City of Corpus Christi appeals the denial of its plea to the
jurisdiction, which challenged the suit filed by appellee
Ofelia Resendez as next friend of Esmerelda Ramirez. By two
issues, the City asserts that Resendez failed to timely
provide a required statutory notice of her claim, and that
the City did not have any actual awareness of fault that
might otherwise excuse Resendez's failure to provide the
notice. We reverse and render.
suit arises from a traffic accident that occurred on May 26,
2015. Resendez and her daughter Ramirez were passengers in an
SUV that collided with a City garbage truck.
18, 2016, Resendez sent a formal notice of her claim to the
City. The notice explained that Resendez and her daughter had
sustained injuries as a result of the collision. The notice
declared that the collision was proximately caused by the
negligence of the driver of the garbage truck, a City
employee named Gilbert Garza Jr., as well as the negligence
of the SUV's driver, Roy Heysquierdo. Resendez later
filed suit against the City and Heysquierdo for negligence.
City filed a plea to the jurisdiction. In it, the City
alleged that Resendez's formal notice was not filed
within six months of the collision, as required by the Texas
Tort Claims Act ("TTCA"). See Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code § 101.101(a) (West, Westlaw
through 2017 1st C.S.). Instead, Resendez delayed nearly a
year after the collision before providing notice.
City's plea acknowledged that "actual notice"
may serve as a substitute for formal notice in some
circumstances, but only if the City had actual awareness of
its employee's probable fault in causing the accident or
injuries. The City asserted that it had no actual awareness
that its employee Garza caused the accident and that, in all
likelihood, Heysquierdo was solely to blame.
support, the City submitted the police report for the
accident, which attributed fault for the collision
exclusively to Heysquierdo. According to the report, the
City's garbage truck was three quarters of the way
through an intersection when Heysquierdo approached in the
cross-bound lane. The report stated that the collision
occurred because Heysquierdo "failed to control [his]
brief, the City explains that Resendez never filed a response
to its plea to the jurisdiction with the trial court, but
that she did submit a response, including various exhibits,
directly to the City. The City describes the exhibits as
documents detailing the City's investigation into the
collision. Resendez's response and its exhibits do not
appear in the appellate record.
a hearing, the trial court granted the City's plea to the
jurisdiction with respect to Resendez individually, which
Resendez did not appeal. However, the trial court denied the
plea with respect to Resendez as next friend of Ramirez. The
City filed this interlocutory appeal challenging the denial
of its plea as to Resendez's claim on behalf of
first issue, the City contends that Resendez failed to
provide a notice of claim to the City within six months of
the collision, as required by the TTCA. By its second issue,
the City asserts that the lack of notice is not excused
because the City had ...