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Fired school custodian’s suit should have been dismissed: Texas appeals court

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A trial court erred in failing to dismiss a lawsuit against a school district by a former custodian who claimed she was fired in retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim, a Texas appellate court ruled Thursday.

The state Court of Appeals said a trial judge should have dismissed a lawsuit against the Conroe Independent School District by Maria Osuna because the school system should have been protected against litigation due to governmental immunity for political subdivisions.

Ms. Osuna says she was sickened after being sprayed in the face with a chemical disinfectant in August 2020. She went out on workers comp.

After her doctor released her to return to work, Ms. Osuna claimed that the district threatened to fire her if she failed to have her physician modify her return-to-work note.

She claimed she was illegally fired in August 2020 over the incident.

During litigation, Ms. Osuna argued the state legislature waived a school district’s immunity from suit due to a section in the labor code that creates a $100,000 damages cap on a plaintiff’s recovery in retaliation claims. She argued it wouldn’t have made sense for the legislature to have created a damages cap unless it also intended to waive governmental immunity.

The appeals court said the suit should have been barred because the legislature has not waived the immunity of school districts in certain retaliatory firing claims.