SAN ANTONIO — The Texas Supreme Court released their opinion in the case against the University of Incarnate Word, filed by the family of Cameron Redus, siding with the family.
Cameron Redus was 23 when he was fatally shot five times at close range by UIW Corporal Christopher Carter following a traffic stop a few blocks north of campus on December 6, 2013. Cameron died at the scene. The Redus family sued in November of 2014, alleging “that the University ‘failed to exercise reasonable care in hiring, training, supervising and retraining’ the officer.'
Key points from the suit were, recovering damages of the mental anguish suffered, recovering funeral and burial expenses and claiming negligence by UIW and Corporal Carter.
The University of Incarnate Word then “filed a plea to the jurisdiction, contending that it is immune from suit,” and their plea was denied by the trial court, causing UIW to appeal. The appeal was ultimately denied after a lengthy deliberation on the merits of whether private universities have sovereign immunity.
In the opinion, the justices found that “As a private entity, the University does not act as an arm of the State in its overall operations. And though the University’s law enforcement activities benefit the public, its arguments for extending sovereign immunity do not comport with the doctrine’s historic justifications: preserving the separation of government power and protecting the public treasury from lawsuits and judgements.”
The court also stated that “Nor does the legislation authorizing private university police departments reflect an intent that private university possess sovereign immunity. The Education Code permits private universities to commission and employ peace officers. Each officer has official immunity under the code, from which the University may derivatively benefit. But the legislature omitted any expression that private universities have independent immunity separate from their officers. Because neither the doctrine’s purposes nor the operative legislation supports extending sovereign immunity to the University, we affirm the court of appeals.”
In a statement released to KENS 5, the University of Incarnate Word said,
"The tragic circumstances regarding the loss of Cameron Redus continues to affect countless lives and we at the University of the Incarnate Word keep the Redus family in our prayers.
We must never lose sight of the grieving family of Cameron Redus nor the tragedy that precipitated this lawsuit.
The University respects and accepts the detailed and thorough opinion of the majority of the Supreme Court of Texas and thanks the Court for its consideration.
The University looks forward to the resolution of this matter for the Redus family and our UIW community."
To review the oral arguments, click here.
For a link to the opinion, read here.