Kerry Young v. Juan Pesina, et al.--Appeal from 81st Judicial District Court of Karnes County
Juan PESINA, et al.,
From the 81st Judicial District Court, Karnes County, Texas
Trial Court No. 02-04-00075-CVK
Honorable Ron Carr, Judge Presiding
Opinion by: Paul W. Green, Justice
Sitting: Paul W. Green, Justice
Sandee Bryan Marion, Justice
Phylis J. Speedlin, Justice
Delivered and Filed: July 28, 2004
This case arises from suit brought by appellant Kerry Young (Young) under both the Texas Tort Claims Act and 42 U.S.C. 1983. In his suit, Young claimed that appellees Juan Pesina (Pesina), Luis Davila, Jr., and William Daniels, all correctional officers at the facility where Young was being held, unlawfully confiscated his radio. The appellees answered, generally denying liability and asserting their entitlements to qualified immunity. They also filed a motion to dismiss under Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the appellees' motion to dismiss. Young now appeals pro se in a single issue, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing his cause of action pursuant to Chapter 14.
Because the issues in this appeal involve the application of well-settled principles of law, we affirm the trial court's decision in this memorandum opinion under Tex. R. App. P. 47.1 for the following reasons:
1. We review a trial court's dismissal of an inmate's claim pursuant to Chapter 14 under an abuse of discretion standard. Retzlaff v. Tex. Dep't of Criminal Justice-Inst'l Div., 94 S.W.3d 650, 654 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, pet. denied). A trial court abuses its discretion when it acts without reference to any guiding rules or principles. Id.
A court may dismiss an inmate's claim if it finds the claim to be frivolous or malicious. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 14.003(a)(2)(Vernon 2002). A claim is frivolous if it has no basis in law or fact. Id. at 14.003(b)(2).
On appeal, Pesina and the other officers argue that Young's claim has no basis in law.
The United States Supreme Court has found the existence of an adequate state remedy to redress both negligent and intentional loss of an inmate's property by a state employee, thus precluding an action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violation of the Due Process Clause. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527(1981); Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517(1984); Myers v. Adams, 728 S.W.2d 771, 772 (Tex. 1987). Because the Texas Government Code provides for a state inmate grievance process, Young has no viable 1983 claim against the officers. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 501.008 (Vernon 2002). The trial court, then, did not err in dismissing his 1983 claims.
Likewise, the trial court did not err in dismissing Young's Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA) claims. State employees are entitled to official immunity when sued in their individual capacities for official acts. Median County Com'rs Court v. Integrity Group, Inc., 944 S.W.2d 6, 9 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1996, no writ). Although the TTCA provides for a limited waiver of governmental immunity, this waiver does not apply to individuals employed by the State. Aguilar v. Chastain, 923 S.W.2d 740, 744-45 (Tex. App.--Tyler 1996, writ denied). Thus, Young has not stated a claim under the TTCA.
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Paul W. Green, Justice