By Gaige Davila
The Texas Supreme Court has denied to hear the City of Port Isabel’s case in an ongoing lawsuit with former city manager Edward Meza.
Meza, who is now the city manager of neighboring Laguna Vista, sued the City of Port Isabel in 2015 after not receiving a severance package when he was fired via city commission vote the same year.
The severance package was previously agreed upon in 2010 in a city commission meeting when Meza was hired, signed off by then-Mayor Joe Vega. The severance package was rescinded via a city commission vote in 2015, the PRESS previously reported, ten days after Meza was terminated.
The City of Port Isabel, citing a Texas Supreme Court case El Paso Education Initiative, Incorporated v. Amex Properties, argues that Vega did not have the authority to sign off on a severance package, saying that the entirety of the city commission needed to vote on the severance package for it to be legitimate.
The City of Port Isabel has had several motions denied by district judges following Meza’s filing of the suit, after the case was initially heard in 2016 by the Southern District Court of Texas.
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.
The state’s Thirteenth Court of Appeals, in a July 2, 2020, 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, in a unanimous decision.
The Thirteenth Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from the city’s attorney, Gilberto Hinojosa, and Meza’s attorney, Daniel Goldberg, in October 2019.
Goldberg, regarding the Texas Supreme Court’s denial, said he hope the City of Port Isabel will pay Meza’s severance fee.
“If they refuse, then I will request that the district court allow us to press this case forward as quickly as they will allow towards a jury trial,” Goldberg said. “Edward Meza is entitled to a jury of his peers to learn how this band of politicos treats former civil servants that fell out of their favor.”
Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema said the city will now go to trial in a Cameron County District Court.
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