Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blind Justice: Supremes see no evidence of hazard; give nod to officials' ostrich defense


Blessed be the Ignoramuses | Public Officials' Affidavits of Ignorance Prove Successful in Defending Personal Injury Suits

Following up on their recent decision holding a city harmless for drowning deaths due to flooded roads on the ground the the public works director could not have known of the adverse weather conditions because he was asleep (and thus could not close the roads even though he was supposed to) the Supremes here let a state university off the hook in a suit by a student who broke his knee when he tripped over a water hose on a campus sidewalk.

The eight wise men and one lady saw no evidence that the university had actual knowledge that the obstruction could create an unreasonable risk. The relevant university officials executed affidavits as proof of their ignorance. As for a university manual that advised that obstructions should not be created, the Court deems it irrelevant because it only applied indoors. Detecting no sign that the University actually knew that the water hose across the sidewalk could cause people to fall and be injured, the Supremes reverse both the court of appeals and the trial court, both of which had rejected the university's plea.

The lesson to public officials: Close your eyes, plug your ears, and hold your nose lest you become aware of dangers and assume the obligation and burden to do something to protect the public.

Ignorance is bliss. It will help you defeat the tort claims of those who slip, trip, or drown thanks to newly created Jefferson Court precedent.

UT-PAN AM v. Aguilar, No. 07-0424 (Tex. Apr. 18, 2008)(per curiam) (TTCA, premises liability, dangerous condition, actual knowledge element) (defendant state university prevails with ostrich defense)
County; 13th district (13-06-00450-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___, 03-01-07)
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 59.1, after granting the petition for review and without
hearing oral argument, the Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and renders judgment.

Opinion below:
UTPA v. Aguilar No. 13-06-00450-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___, (Tex.App.- Corpus Christi, March 1, 2007)
( Because there are questions of fact pertinent to the jurisdictional issue, we conclude the trial court did not err in denying UTPA's plea to the jurisdiction, motion to dismiss, and no-evidence motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, we affirm the order of the trial court. . . . Assuming, without deciding, that the duty UTPA owed to Tony was that owed to an invitee, our result would be the same because fact issues remain regarding whether stretching the water hose across the sidewalk posed an unreasonable risk of harm and whether UTPA had actual or constructive (in terms of an invitee) knowledge of the condition.")

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