By Gaige Davila
A state appeals court panel has unanimously denied the City of Port Isabel’s interlocutor appeal in a lawsuit between the city and former city manager Edward Meza.
The state’s Thirteenth Court of Appeals, which serves Cameron County and several other South Texas counties, in a July 2 memorandum opinion by Justice Gloria Benavidez, affirmed the 444th District Court of Cameron County’s denial of the City Port Isabel’s motion for dismissal.
The appeals court heard oral arguments from the city’s attorney, Gilberto Hinojosa, and Meza’s attorney, Daniel Goldberg, in October 2019.
Meza’s case was first argued in the federal Southern District Court of Texas in 2016, after he was fired by the City of Port Isabel in 2015 and did not receive a severance package he and the city agreed upon in 2010. The city alleges the agreement and or contract for Meza’s severance package was not valid, voting to rescind the severance package in May 2015 that was approved in 2010 by previous city commissioners.
The case moved to the 444th District Court of Cameron County, where the City of Port Isabel had filed a preliminary motion for dismissal before the case reached a jury. Judge David Sanchez denied the motion, and the City of Port Isabel responded with the appeal just denied by the Thirteenth Court of Appeals.
“When will the City just pay Mr. Meza what it long ago voted to pay him, which by now is less than the attorney fees that the City will also be responsible for?” Goldberg said to the PRESS in an emailed statement.
Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema said the city will be requesting a rehearing en banc, where all judges of an appellate court hear a case, rather than one judge or a panel of judges. Hockema said the city disagrees with Benavidez’s opinion.
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