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Doe v. City of Dallas

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

June 21, 2019

JANE DOE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEXT FRIEND OF S.D., A MINOR CHILD AND DAUGHTER OF JANE DOE, Appellant
v.
CITY OF DALLAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 160th Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-17-01045

          Before Justices Bridges, Brown, and Nowell

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ERIN A. NOWELL JUSTICE

         In this appeal, Jane Doe, individually and as next friend of S.D., a minor child and daughter of Jane Doe, contends the trial court erred by granting the City of Dallas's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissing her claims against the City. The City's plea to the jurisdiction argued, among other things, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the City did not receive timely written or actual notice of Doe's claims as required by the Texas Tort Claims Act ("TTCA"). Because we conclude the City did not receive the required notice, we affirm the trial court's order of dismissal.

         Factual Background[1]

         Appellant sued the City after her minor daughter, S.D., was sexually assaulted while performing community service at the Umphress Recreation Center, which the City owns and operates.

         S.D.'s supervisor at Umphress instructed her to clean the weight room and men's restroom. While she cleaned the weight room, a male patron, later identified as Gerardo Rangel Segovia, watched and followed her. Before S.D. began cleaning the men's restroom, which was adjacent to the weight room, she propped open the door. Segovia followed S.D. into the men's restroom, removed the door prop, closed the door, and assaulted her. S.D. did not immediately tell anyone at Umphress about the incident.

         When she arrived home, S.D. told her mother, Jane Doe, about the assault. S.D. and Doe returned to Umphress and talked to Fabian Ramirez who was managing the center that day. Doe told Fabian what occurred, and Fabian said he would help find the perpetrator. Fabian told Doe that the center's security camera system was not functioning and no one was monitoring who entered the restroom. Fabian also contacted the police who talked to Doe and S.D. S.D. provided a description of the assailant.

         The following day when Segovia returned to Umphress, Ramirez contacted the police who arrested Segovia. Segovia was indicted for indecency with a child.

         Doe testified in her deposition:

Q. Okay. And was it your understanding from your conversation with Mr. Fabian that he said, I'm going to help you, because he was trying to help you figure out who the man was who had assaulted your daughter?
A. Yes, who was the man. Who was the guilty person.
Q. Okay. And was Mr. Fabian helping you try to figure that out?
A. Yes, to find out who it was, you know. Because if he did it once, and then he was going to do ...

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