Monday, May 25, 2009

Strangling the TTCA: Dallas County v. Posey (Tex. 2009)


Dallas County v. Posey, (Tex. 2009)
No. 08-0094 (Tex. May 22, 2009) (per curiam) (TTCA, prisoner suicide with cord of jail cell phone)

Should suicidal prisoners have a phone with a cord in their cell, with which they can kill themselves? Probably not a good idea. Dallas County concluded as much and started removing them and replacing them with cordless phones.

No rush warranted to make jail cells safe in addition to secure, though, at least not in terms of risk managment and potential legal liability.

In one of its most recent decisions in a series of Tort Claims Act rulings sapping life from the sovereign immunity waiver found in the TTCA, the Supremes absolve county of any responsibility for prisoner's death-by-hanging in a holding cell, - as usual on immunity grounds.

Tragic, no doubt, the Court concedes.

Case dismissed!

Survivors of accident victims suing under the Tort Claims Act suffer similar fate:
Loose gravel on road not a special defect that would permit them to sue.

Jury verdict reversed. Case dismissed!

Also see:
JCW Electronics, Inc. v. Garza, No. 05-1042 (Tex. June 27, 2008) (Opinion by Justice David Medina) (product liability, breach of implied warranty, prisoner strangled with cord of phone represented as safe for unsupervised use by inmates)

See other Texas Supreme Court Tort Claims Act Appeals (with predictable outcomes in finding that immunity bars suit contrary to the legislative purpose of the Tort Claims Act)

Prior post: Accident victims' perilous road to the Texas Supreme Court.

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