City of Kemah v. Vela – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In City of Kemah v. Vela, 149 S.W.3d 199 (Tex.App.--Houston 14th Dist. 2004, pet. denied), a police officer made a traffic stop and parked behind the plaintiff's car in a left-turn lane.

The officer placed the plaintiff in the back seat of the patrol car. A second police officer parked his patrol car behind the first and activated his emergency lights.

A truck subsequently drove into the back of the second patrol car which in turn struck the first patrol car injuring the plaintiff.

The plaintiff alleged that his injuries arose from the negligent parking of the patrol cars in the turning lane.

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals determined that the plaintiff's injuries did not arise from the use or operation of the patrol cars and that the parking of the patrol cars merely furnished the condition that made the injuries possible.

"Under these facts, the patrol cars merely furnished the condition that made Vela's injuries possible. Vela is not complaining that putting him in a patrol car following his arrest was negligent; he contends the officers acted negligently when they placed him in an improperly parked patrol car. But, this did not cause Vela's injuries. Starnes caused Vela's injuries when he ignored the flashing lights of two police cars and ran into Officer Shafer's patrol car." Id. at 204.