City of Taylor v. Laboratory Tops, Inc

In City of Taylor v. Laboratory Tops, Inc. No. 03-08-00357-CV, 2008 WL 5423037 (Tex. App.--Austin Dec. 31, 2008, no pet.), the plaintiff alleged the City's misuse of a vacuum truck to excavate around a pipe caused the pipe to separate at the joint. About four days after the City used the vacuum truck and while the pipes were still uncovered, the pipe separated and water flooded the plaintiff's facility. The plaintiff presented expert testimony from an engineer that the joint of the pipe was held together by the combined force of concrete thrust blocks and the surrounding soil. Id. When the City negligently used the vacuum equipment, it moved the thrust blocks and caused the pipe to separate. The City responded that it had only created a condition that made the plaintiff's injury possible and relied on expert testimony suggesting that it was the prolonged exposure of the pipes that caused the separation. Id. Because the plaintiff produced evidence that the City's equipment played a direct role in the injury and because the City's response only raised a fact issue on the role of the motor-driven equipment, the Third Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err in denying the City's plea to the jurisdiction.