The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston has ruled that the Port of Houston Authority can’t claim sovereign immunity to avoid liability in a personal injury lawsuit. The suit arises out of the collision between a gantry crane operated by an employee of the Port of Houston and a truck driven by an independent truck driver.
Sovereign immunity prevents individuals from suing the government or its subdivisions. However, there are exceptions to the rule. One exception is that the governmental unit can be held liable for its employee’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle. The Court of Appeals’ opinion found that this exception applied. See, The Port of Houston Authority v Abran Morales, case number 14-21-00052-CV, in the Fourteenth Court of Appeals for the State of Texas.
The Port of Houston can be a dangerous place to work. Years ago, I represented a longshoreman in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of one of the Port of Houston’s gantry cranes. The crane was not equipped with “wheel guards” to prevent the giant tires from trapping and crushing nearby longshoremen. The crane was also not equipped with a warning bell or horn to notify longshoremen in the noisy port that the crane was approaching. My client lost a leg as a result of being run over by a gantry crane. The Harris County jury found the manufacturer liable and rendered a substantial verdict for my client.