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Study the use of the sovereign immunity statute by state agencies
in contract disputes.
Sovereign immunity is based on the common law rule that a king
or sovereign cannot be sued without that sovereign's consent.
This doctrine protects the state, its employees, and officers,
from most lawsuits. To seek legal redress, a party must ask the
state to agree to the action and waive sovereign immunity.
The Texas Legislative Council, at the committee's request, surveyed
the laws of the other 49 states concerning the application of
this doctrine. While most states retain the doctrine, immunity
may be waived in respect to certain claims. Most states have
waived the doctrine as to contract disputes. The survey also
found that most states did not have an arbitration process for
claims against the state, although in many states the arbitration
process for civil actions would also cover suits against that
The committee made no recommendations, but listed various options:
Study methods that could be used to review resolutions granting
permission to sue the state.
Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, a party seeking legal
redress against the state must ask the state to waive the doctrine.
One way Texas can grant a waiver is by the legislature passing
a special law or concurrent resolution permitting a specific entity
to sue or collect a judgment. During the 74th session, there
were 28 resolutions seeking permission to sue the state, six of
which passed and were signed by the governor. The complexity
of many claims may make it difficult for the legislature to examine
adequately the merits of a claim during the 140-day session.
The committee made no recommendations, but offered various options:
Study the rulemaking authority of the Supreme Court in civil court
The Texas Supreme Court's rulemaking authority is set out under
Article 5, Section 31, of the Texas Constitution and Section 22.004
of the Texas Government Code. The legislature remains the ultimate
authority of the court's power to make rules and set court procedures.