Manbeck v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist.Annotate this Case
An employee (Employee) of the Austin Independent School District (AISD), a self-insured governmental entity, was injured on the job. AISD acknowledged that Employee had been injured but disputed whether the compensable injury extended to two alleged conditions. A hearing officer sided with Employee on the contested issues, as did the administrative appeals panel. In the district court, Employee filed a counterclaim seeking attorney fees. AISD filed a nonsuit, leaving only the counterclaim for fees. After a jury trial, Employee won a judgment on the verdict that included pre-nonsuit and post-nonsuit attorney fees. The court of appeals found (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the pre-nonsuit fee award, but (2) the post-nonsuit fee award could not stand. AISD brought a petition for review in the Supreme Court, arguing for the first time that governmental immunity from suit barred the award of attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the defense of sovereign immunity may be raised for the first time on appeal; and (2) AISD was immune from Employee's claim for attorney fees.