Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 206th District Court of Hidalgo County,
Justices Benavides, Hinojosa, and Perkes
LETICIA HINOJOSA, JUSTICE.
Antonio Quintanilla sued the City of McAllen (the City)
asserting a premises liability claim. The City filed a plea
to the jurisdiction, which the trial court denied. By four
issues, which we treat as two, the City argues that the trial
court erred in denying its plea because: (1) the
jurisdictional record establishes that the City's
governmental immunity is not waived under the Texas Tort
Claims Act (TTCA); and (2) the trial court should not have
considered Quintanilla's untimely response to the
City's plea to the jurisdiction. We reverse and render.
petition, Quintanilla alleges that he slipped and fell on a
liquid substance at McAllen Central Station, a bus station
owned by the City. Quintanilla claimed that the fall caused
an abrasion to his head and injuries to his shoulder, arms,
and wrist. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction,
supported by evidence, arguing that Quintanilla could not
establish a waiver of its governmental immunity under the
TTCA. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§ 101.025. The City maintained that: (1) Quintanilla was
not required to pay a fee to access the bus station, and
therefore, the City only owed Quintanilla the duty owed to a
licensee, see id. § 101.022 ("Duty Owed:
Premise and Special Defects"); and (2) the City did not
breach its duty to warn Quintanilla because it did not have
actual knowledge of the alleged dangerous condition that
caused Quintanilla's injuries. The City supported its
plea with excerpts from Quintanilla's deposition
testimony and video surveillance footage of the incident.
filed a response, contending that: (1) the City owed him the
duty owed to an invitee because he was accompanying his aunt,
who had paid to use the premises by purchasing a bus ticket;
and (2) there existed a fact issue concerning whether the
City had constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition.
Quintanilla's response did not rely on any additional
testified in his deposition that his aunt purchased a ticket
to travel by bus from McAllen, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico.
Quintanilla accompanied his aunt to the bus station, but he
did not purchase a ticket. According to Quintanilla, the bus
station is open to the public, and it is not necessary to
purchase a ticket to access the station. While walking
through the station, Quintanilla slipped on a liquid
substance and "fruit leftovers," which caused him
to fall to the floor and strike his head on a nearby chair.
Quintanilla stated that he suffered injuries to his arm,
wrist, and head.
did not see the substance prior to his fall. He described the
spill as being smaller than a piece of paper. After he fell,
Quintanilla recalled that employees cleaned the area and
placed warning signs. He did not believe that any bus station
employees were aware of the spill before his fall.
surveillance video shows Quintanilla seated in the waiting
area of the bus station. An unknown individual pushes a dry
mop down an aisle separating rows of chairs and past where
Quintanilla is seated. Seconds later, a woman carrying a
large bag in each hand walks down the aisle past Quintanilla.
Almost immediately after she passes, Quintanilla stands and
walks down the aisle where the woman had just travelled.
After taking approximately three steps, and while in the
middle of the aisle, Quintanilla slips, loses his balance,
and falls to the floor, hitting his head on a nearby chair.
Several persons help Quintanilla to his feet, and he appears
to then take a seat. Moments later, a bus station employee
places two "wet floor" signs on each side of the
spill before returning with a string mop to clean the area.
The video depicts three individuals walking past the area
prior to Quintanilla's fall-the employee pushing the dry
mop, Quintanilla himself, and the woman carrying two large
bags. The substance causing Quintanilla's fall is not
visible on the video.
Trial Court Ruling
setting the matter for submission, the trial court denied the
City's plea to the jurisdiction. This interlocutory