Justices kick suit accusing Jersey Village of failing to paint concrete barrier

HOUSTON – The First Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling denying the city of Jersey Village’s plea to the jurisdiction in a lawsuit accusing it of failing to paint a concrete barrier. 

The lawsuit was brought by Thomas Killough back in 2019, court records show. 

In his suit, Killough alleged that on March 30, 2018, he was riding his motorcycle on the eastbound U.S. Highway 290 frontage road when he attempted to enter the highway. Immediately in front of Killough was a disabled car that was blocking the entrance ramp. To avoid a collision, Killough “attempted to merge back onto the [frontage] road,” and while doing so, hit a concrete median barrier “that had no paint or reflectors.” 

According to Killough, he was “injured as a result of a [special] defect owned and maintained” by the city. Killough also asserted that the Texas Tort Claims Act waived the city’s governmental immunity because Killough’s injuries were caused by a special defect. 

Court records show the city filed a combined plea to the jurisdiction and summary-judgment motion, arguing that the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over Killough’s suit because it is entitled to governmental immunity and Killough failed to show that his suit fell under the waiver of governmental immunity.

The city also asserted that the roadway and the concrete median barrier were not constructed, owned, or controlled by the city, but rather by the Texas Department of Transportation. 

The trial court denied the city’s plea and the appeal followed. 

On Dec. 14, justices reversed the trial court and rendered judgment dismissing Killough’s suit. 

“Because the uncontroverted evidence establishes that the City did not owe Killough a legal duty, we hold that the TTCA does not waive the City’s governmental immunity, the trial court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over Killough’s suit against the City, and the trial court erred in denying the City’s plea to the jurisdiction and summary-judgment motion,” the opinion states. 

Written by Staff reports

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