Immunity from Suits Against a University In Texas

In Ho v. University of Texas at Arlington, 984 S.W.2d 672 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 1998, pet. denied), the University dismissed Ho from its doctoral program without granting her a degree. Ho brought various contract, tort, and constitutional claims against the University. In a summary-judgment motion, the University asserted that the sovereign-immunity doctrine barred Ho's claims. Relying on Federal Sign and a court-of-appeals decision, Ho asserted that she did not have to plead and prove legislative consent to suit because the University's conduct waived its immunity from suit. Ho, 984 S.W.2d at 682. The trial court granted the University's motion. On appeal, Ho relied on Federal Sign to argue that the University's conduct waived its immunity from suit and, consequently, she could sue the University without obtaining legislative consent. Ho, 984 S.W.2d at 682 (citing Federal Sign v. Texas S. Univ., 951 S.W.2d 401, 408 n.1 (Tex. 1997)). The court of appeals rejected her argument: We disagree with Ho's premise. by stating that it is "the Legislature's sole province to waive or abrogate sovereign immunity," the majority opinion in Federal Sign clearly reaffirmed a long line of cases standing for that general principle. . . . The only exception we have found in which the State, by its own actions waives immunity, is that which applies when the State initiates a suit. . . . Therefore, inasmuch as Ho was unable to plead and prove she had the State's consent to bring this suit, she has not complied with that procedural requirement and the trial court correctly granted summary judgment dismissing Ho's contract claims. Ho, 984 S.W.2d at 682-83.