Tuesday, March 18, 2008

City's fight against firefighter ends, but unresolved legal issues smolder on

After multiple appeals, including one to the Texas Supreme Court, the disagreements over authority and jurisdiction in connection with judicial review of decision of independent hearing examiners in disciplinary disputes involving firefighters are still not fully extinguished. 

City of Houston Fire Station

In the latest court decision, on remand from the Supreme Court, a panel of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals holds that the the trial court did not have jurisdiction over the city's appeal from independent hearing examiner's decision, but one justice wrote separately, concurring in the result on different grounds. The firefighter prevails, but not on the merits. Unfortunately more litigation involving similar fact scenarios may be in the offing, as a key issue of first impression was not reached for a precedent-setting decision on the merits given the court's holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, and that the proper course of action for the reviewing court was to vacate the judgment below.

City of Houston v. Clark No. 14-03-00399-CV (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Mar. 18, 2008)(Post-remand Majority Opinion by Frost) (firefighter litigation, disciplinary actions, no judicial review of merits of independent hearing examiner's decision, immunity plea, claim, lack of jurisdiction over dispute, case with multiple appeals)
The City of Houston v. Donald ClarkAppeal from 333rd District Court of Harris County
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Joseph J. Halbach
Disposition: Affirmed in part, dismissed in part
Concurring Opinion by Justice Edelman


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