Brown & Gay Eng’g, Inc. v. Olivares (Opinion)Annotate this Case
The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority (the Authority) was a local government corporation created to design, build, and operate the Westpark Tollway. The Authority lawfully contracted with Brown & Gay Engineering, Inc. (Brown & Gay), a private engineering firm, to design and construct the Ford Bend County portion of the Tollway. In 2007, an intoxicated driver entered an exit ramp of the Tollway and collided with a car driven by Pedro Olivares, who was killed in the accident. Plaintiffs sued the Authority and Brown & Gay, alleging that the failure to design and install proper traffic-control devices around the exit ramp proximately caused the decedent’s death. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of the Authority’s plea to the jurisdiction on governmental-immunity grounds, concluding that the Authority was immune from suit. Brown & Gay then filed its own plea to the jurisdiction seeking the same sovereign-immunity protection that the Authority would enjoy had it performed the work itself. The court of appeals denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that sovereign immunity does not extend to private contractors based solely on the nature of the contractors’ work.