City of Farmers Branch v. Ramos – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In City of Farmers Branch v. Ramos, 235 S.W.3d 462, 469 (Tex. App.--Dallas 2007, no pet.), Ramos sued the City of Farmer's Branch for judicial declarations that the City violated the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) by conducting closed meetings relating to a controversial city ordinance. Id.

In addition to declaratory relief, Ramos sought disclosure "to the public of all transcripts, minutes, recordings, and other evidence of closed meetings as well as requiring the City to comply with TOMA in the future." Id.

After Ramos filed suit, the City repealed the ordinance at issue, sought dismissal of Ramos's lawsuit, and argued the case was moot because the ordinance at issue had been repealed. Id. at 465, 469.

But the court held the case was not moot because of potential remedial relief available if Ramos proved a violation of TOMA. Id.

Specifically, if Ramos succeeded, the trial court could have ordered the production of the documents and information from the closed meetings. Id.

The plaintiff alleged that the city deliberated and decided both ordinances in closed meetings. Id. The city repealed the ordinances and argued that the repeal mooted the plaintiff's claim. Id. at 469.

But the plaintiff had also requested the certified agenda from the closed meeting. Id. Quoting the Texas Supreme Court, the Court stated that the repeal of an action done illegally does not vindicate the right protected by the Texas Open Meetings Act: "Our citizens are entitled to more than a result.

They are entitled not only to know what government decides but to observe how and why every decision is reached." Id. at 470.

The Court concluded that a request for a declaration that the city violated the statute, coupled with the potential remedy involving the certified agenda from the closed meeting, established that the issue was not moot. Id.