Houston attorneys Steven D. Selbe and Heidi J. Gumienny achieved a significant victory in obtaining a reversal of a denial of a plea to the jurisdiction from the Ninth Court of Appeals in Beaumont, Texas in a personal injury suit against their client, the City of Conroe, Texas.
The case involved a minor who was injured while participating in an informal game of softball during the City’s day camp. The plaintiffs claimed that the City was negligent and/or grossly negligent in holding the softball game indoors, among other claims. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction asking the trial court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims because the Recreational Use Statute (“RUS”) required the plaintiffs to show that the City acted with gross, rather than ordinary, negligence, and the City had not waived its immunity to suit because there was no issue of fact that the City had acted grossly negligent.
After the trial court denied the City’s plea, the City appealed to the Beaumont Court of Appeals. The key issue on appeal was whether the informal game of indoor softball qualified as “recreation” under the RUS. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and rendered judgment in favor of the City, finding that the trial court erred in denying the City’s plea because the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the City was grossly negligent under the RUS. The plaintiffs appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, which denied their petition for review.