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At a Glance:
Title:
Kuhl v. City of Garland
Date:
December 22, 1995
Citation:
910 S.W.2d 929
Court:
Texas Supreme Court
Status:
Published Opinion

Kuhl v. City of Garland

Supreme Court of Texas.

Rodger KUHL, Petitioner,

v.

The CITY OF GARLAND, Respondent.

No. 95–0419.

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Nov. 2, 1995.

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Rehearing Overruled Dec. 22, 1995.

Attorneys & Firms

*930 John E. Wall, Jr., Dallas, for Petitioner.

Kevin T. Crocker, Dallas, for Respondent.

Opinion

PER CURIAM.

The issue presented is whether the 1989 version of the Political Subdivisions Law, see 851 S.W.2d 876, and remand this cause to the trial court for further proceedings.

Rodger Kuhl, a sanitation worker with the City of Garland, filed a claim for workers’ compensation after suffering a workplace injury. The City subsequently fired Kuhl in April 1991, alleging that he was incapable of fulfilling his job requirements. Kuhl responded by suing the City under 851 S.W.2d at 885.

The Political Subdivisions Law, first enacted in 1973, requires governmental entities to provide compensation benefits to their employees. See City of La Porte v. Barfield, 898 S.W.2d 288, 297 (Tex.1995), we concluded that the Legislature, by these 1981 amendments, waived a *931 city’s sovereign immunity for liability under the Anti–Retaliation Law, but only for the limited relief of reinstatement and back pay.

Although the specific controversy presented in City of La Porte involved the 1981 version of the Political Subdivisions Law, the Court also discussed the effects of the 1989 amendments to that statute, which apply in the present case since Kuhl was fired in 1991. See Act of December 12, 1989, 71st Leg., 2d C.S., ch. 1, § 17.18(c). The 1989 version, which likewise incorporates the Anti–Retaliation Law, requires a person bringing a wrongful discharge action to elect between that remedy and the Whistleblower Act.1 See TEX.LAB.CODE § 504.003. It further provides as follows:

Neither this chapter nor [The Workers’ Compensation Act] authorizes a cause of action or damages against a political subdivision or an employee of a political subdivision beyond the actions and damages authorized by Chapter 101, Civil Practice and Remedies Code [The Tort Claims Act].

898 S.W.2d at 298. We noted that, despite the literal language of the statute, “[i]t seems quite implausible that the Legislature would have allowed public employees compensation benefits since 1973, and then in 1989 would have greatly restricted those benefits to the very limited circumstances in which the Tort Claims Act waives immunity without any expression of intent to do so.” Id.

The issue which we discussed in City of La Porte is now presented squarely for decision. We believe our reasoning and conclusions there were correct, and we now hold that section 504.002 of the Texas Labor Code waives immunity from liability for actual damages, as well as for reinstatement and back pay, subject to the limitations of the Tort Claims Act, for claims under the Anti–Retaliation Law. We further hold that the requirement that the injury arise from the operation or use of a motor vehicle or motor driven equipment or the condition or use of tangible personal or real property does not apply to claims under the Anti–Retaliation Law. A majority of the Court, without hearing oral argument, therefore reverses the judgment of the court of appeals, and remands this cause to the trial court for further proceedings.

Footnotes

1

TEX.REV.CIV.STAT. art. 6252–16a.

2

See TEX.CIV.PRAC. & REM.CODE § 101.021.

End of Document
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