Appeal from the 281st District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2018-15552
consists of Justices Keyes, Kelly, and Goodman.
an interlocutory appeal of the trial court's denial of
the City of Houston's traditional motion for summary
judgment, in which it argued that it was immune from suit
under the Texas Tort Claims Act. On appeal, the City argues
that the trial court erred by denying its motion because
appellee Cassandra Garza's summary judgment affidavit was
a sham that should have been disregarded.
the City did not conclusively prove its entitlement to
summary judgment, we affirm the order of the trial court.
Houston Police Officer J. Turretine and his partner stopped
Cassandra Garza for speeding at 5:14 a.m. on March 9, 2016.
She was arrested for outstanding traffic warrants and taken
to the City's Southeast Jail. At the jail, Officer
Turretine's partner found Garza in possession of clear
plastic bags containing less than a gram of cocaine residue.
Based on that information, Officer Turretine contacted a
Harris County assistant district attorney, "who accepted
charges of possession of cocaine less than one gram."
Officer Turretine had no further contact with Garza.
alleged that she was injured later that day when a vehicle
taking her from the City jail to the Harris County jail
collided with another vehicle. She sued both the City and
Harris County, stating that it was "undetermined at this
time whether the Plaintiff was in the custody of the City of
Houston or Harris County, Texas at the time of the
City filed a traditional motion for summary judgment in which
it argued that immunity precluded Garza's suit as a
matter of law. The City contended that its evidence-two
affidavits and discovery responses-conclusively proved that
Garza's alleged injuries did not arise from the
City's use of a motor driven vehicle. The City attached
affidavits from Officer Turretine, who arrested Garza, and
Officer R. Hall, who worked later that day. Officer Turretine
stated that he and his partner were uniformed and in a marked
patrol car when they met Garza. He averred that they were not
involved in a motor vehicle collision while transporting her.
Officers Turretine and Hall denied having taken Garza to the
Harris County jail, although Officer Hall said that it was
within his job responsibilities to transport inmates. Officer
Hall averred that he had provided inmate transportation for
14 years and never had an accident. On March 9, 2016, he was
assigned to the evening shift, which began at 2:00 p.m. It
was his usual practice to open the back doors of the
transport vehicle upon arrival at the Harris County jail, he
"never observed any inmates on the floor of the van
after opening the doors," and he "never received a
report from an inmate that they were injured during the
City's final piece of summary judgment evidence was
Garza's sworn interrogatories. In response to
interrogatories, Garza stated that:
• She was a passenger in a vehicle owned and operated by
either the City of Houston or Harris County.
• The vehicle in which she was riding rear-ended another
• She was seated in the rear of the vehicle, and she was