While most litigants file suit with the idea of having their day in court, most lawsuits, including those asserting claims under Texas employment law, never reach the trial-by-jury phase. The fact is that many cases are eventually settled between the respective parties, sometimes confidentially, and countless others are often resolved in another manner – dismissal by the court prior to trial. Thus, pre-trial proceedings can be very important – at least as important as what happens at trial and perhaps even more so in some cases.
Facts of the Case
In a recent appellate case arising in the Judicial District Court of Waller County and heard on appeal by the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, the plaintiff was the head coach for a women’s college basketball team. In 2015, the plaintiff removed two female student athletes from the team because they were dating one another. The college’s Title IX coordinator found that the plaintiff had violated XI by implementing and enforcing a team rule against players dating, and the plaintiff was subsequently fired for cause.
Thereafter, the plaintiff filed suit against the college and its athletic director, asserting claims for breach of contract, defamation, and tortious interference. The athletic director was named in both his individual and official capacities in the suit. The defendants filed a plea to the jurisdiction, asking the trial court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, with prejudice, based on governmental immunity and the election-of-remedies rule. The plaintiff then filed an amended petition, asserting only her defamation claim and her tortious interference claim; these claims were brought only against the athletic director in his individual capacity. The plaintiff then filed a motion for a voluntary nonsuit against the college and against the athletic director in his official capacity. Continue reading