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Pre-Suit Notice Not Required by Texas Tort Claims Act

Serving a lawsuit within six months of an injury or loss satisfies the notice requirement of the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA), the Supreme Court of Texas held on October 1, 2010.

Glen Colquitt sued Brazoria County under the TTCA 55 days after falling and injuring himself while working as a private contractor at the Brazoria County Jail. The County moved to dismiss the suit arguing that Colquitt had failed to provide separate, pre-suit notice of his claim to the County as required by 2005 amendments to the TTCA.

The trial court denied the County's motion, the County took an interlocutory appeal, and the appeals court reversed.

The appellate court held that the 2005 amendments made "pre-suit notice of a claim" under the TTCA a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing suit. The Texas Supreme Court, however, disagreed and reversed.

The 2005 amendments to the TTCA made notice a "jurisdictional" prerequisite to the State's waiver of sovereign immunity, the Supreme Court said, agreeing with the lower court.

But "the Tort Claims Act [...] does not require that notice be given before filing suit. It requires instead that the government obtain notice within six months of the incident," the court held.

The purpose of the notice requirement, the court explained, is "to ensure a prompt reporting of claims to enable the [government] to investigate while facts are fresh and conditions remain substantially the same." Serving a suit "within the six-month notice period" satisfied these requirements as long as the suit "provides all the requisite information," the court wrote.

The judgment of the court of appeals was accordingly reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. See: Colquitt v. Brazoria County, 324 S.W.3d 539 (Tx. 2010).

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Related legal case

Colquitt v. Brazoria County