Plaintiff bitten by police dog alleged valid waiver of sovereign immunity
In City of Houston v. Davis, 294 S.W.3d 609 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 2009, no writ), plaintiff sued the city when he was bitten by a police dog. The city filed a Plea to the Jurisdiction which the trial court denied. The city appealed and challenged the trial court’s denial. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling holding the plaintiff’s pleading showed his injuries were caused by the police officer’s use of tangible person property, the police dog.
The facts are simple. Officer Briones was traveling in his patrol car when he was flagged down by the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed someone had tried to run him off the road. The officer stopped the vehicle complained of by the plaintiff. Plaintiff pulled his vehicle behind that of the officer. As the plaintiff approached the officer, the police dog leapt from the open door of the police car, biting plaintiff. Plaintiff sued.
The issue in dispute was whether the police officer was using the dog when it bit plaintiff. The court concluded plaintiff’s pleadings “allege Briones was negligently using the police dog without properly restraining the dog, which was a substantial factor in the dog causing the injuries to Davis. Accepting Davis’s allegations as true and construing them in his favor, we hold the petition alleges a valid wavier of sovereign immunity.” Id. at 613.