Suits against ESCs are rare…but they happen.

The Court of Appeals for Corpus Christi/Edinburg has ordered that ESC Region 2 be dismissed from the suit filed by a person who was injured at an ESC2-hosted conference.  Amanda Barrera took a fall at a “parent engagement conference” hosted by the Service Center, and suffered a broken leg.  Importantly, the event was not held at ESC 2’s beautiful facility in downtown Corpus.  The ESC rented a conference facility owned by Nueces County and managed by Global Spectrum, LP.  Ms. Barrera sued all three entities. 

We’re just going to focus on Region 2’s situation.  It sought dismissal from the case based on the fact that it did not own, manage, or control the building where the event was held, and therefore, was entitled to immunity from this type of lawsuit.  For unknown reasons, the district court did not dismiss the case. But the appellate court did. 

In doing so, the court noted that ESCs are “governmental units” entitled to immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act.  To overcome that, the plaintiff had to show that some exception applied.  In this case the argument was that the parent engagement conference was a “proprietary” function rather than a “governmental” one.  Texas law does make a distinction between “proprietary” and “governmental” functions, but only with regard to municipalities. Key Quote:

Regional Education Service Centers like ESCR2 are the middle rung of Texas’s three-tiered education system, between local school districts and the Texas Education Agency and State Board of  Education.  Because ESCR2 is not a municipality, Barrera’s reliance on the proprietary-governmental dichotomy is misplaced.

The rest of the case continues, including claims by the county and Global Spectrum against the ESC2 alleging breach of contract. But the injured party’s claim against the Service Center has been dismissed. When there is governmental immunity, the court lacks jurisdiction.

It’s Education Service Center Region 2 v. Barrera, decided by the Court of  Appeals for Corpus Christi/Edinburg on April 14, 2022.  It’s cited at 2022 WL 1110519.


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