TTCA Notice – Reversed and Rendered

  • Texas Dep’t of Criminal Justice v. Cisneros
    • 09-17-00161-CV, 2018 WL 1095533
    • 88th District Court of Tyler County
    • Justice Kreger, Mar. 1, 2018
  • While incarcerated by the TDCJ, Cisneros suffered an injury by a woodworking saw and sued the TDCJ for negligence. In response, the TDCJ filed a plea to the jurisdiction on the basis that Cisneros failed to file a notice of his claim within statutory deadlines. Cisneros, on the other hand, argued that the TDCJ’s own incident report put the TDCJ on actual notice of the claim and formal written notice was not needed. The trial court denied  TDCJ’s plea to the jurisdiction.
  • The Ninth Court held that for TDCJ to have actual knowledge, it must have: (1) knowledge of the injury; (2) subjective awareness of it’s alleged fault producing or contributing to the injury; and (3) knowledge of the identity of the person involved.  Subjective awareness is required, the Ninth Court noted, otherwise the TDCJ does not have the same incentive to gather the information that the statute is designed to provide. The Ninth Court noted that “fault”, as regards actual notice, is not synonymous with “liability”; rather, it implies responsibility for the injury claimed.
  • In this case, the results of TDCJ’s investigation indicated that Cisneros, not TDCJ, was responsible for the accident. Therefore, the TDCJ was not shown to have subjective awareness of any fault of its own in producing Cisneros’ injuries or otherwise found to have sufficient notice.
  • The Ninth Court reversed the trial court’s order denying the plea to the jurisdiction, and rendered judgment dismissing Cisneros’ claims.