Appeals Court: UIW Can’t Claim Governmental Immunity in Redus Case

Appeals Court: UIW Can’t Claim Governmental Immunity in Redus Case

Cameron Redus’ parents Mickey (left) and Valerie Redus look on as attorney Brent Perry speaks to reporters following an appeal in 2015.

The Fourth Court of Appeals rejected the University of the Incarnate Word’s argument that it should be immune from litigation because it is a governmental unit. The ruling Wednesday leaves the university open to a wrongful death lawsuit in the 2013 death of Cameron Redus, who was fatally shot by a university police officer.

University attorney Matthew Wymer said the university will appeal the decision.

“The university has always understood that regardless of the [Fourth Court of Appeals] decision, the case will be decided by the Supreme Court of Texas,” Wymer told the Rivard Report.

Since Redus’ death in December 2013, his family has been locked in a court battle with the university over whether UIW can be sued in connection with the student’s death. If the appellate court decision stands, the university would be subject to a wrongful death lawsuit, according to Redus family attorney Brent Perry.

“That [would] start the whole process over that we did two and a half years ago,” he told the Rivard Report. “Hopefully it will be shorter this time, and the [Texas Supreme Court] won’t agree to hear the case.”

Mark Hall, the Redus family’s representative, said that for parents Mickey and Valerie Redus, it has been four long years of waiting for Wednesday’s decision.

“We have continued to believe that eventually we would see justice in his case, find a measure of closure in our hearts and see changes that would prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again,” a statement from the family said. “Today’s decision by the Fourth Court of Appeals will allow us to take the next steps in that process. We want to thank the Justices for their careful and thorough deliberation.”

Cameron Redus was a 23-year-old senior honors student who was pulled over by campus police as he was driving to his off-campus Alamo Heights apartment following a night of celebrating with fellow graduates. Officer Christopher Carter had left campus to get food when he saw a car weaving in and out of traffic.

Cameron Redus

A Bexar County grand jury declined to indict Carter, who was placed on extended administrative leave and eventually resigned from the UIW police force.

Redus’ parents brought a wrongful death suit in May 2014 against the university and Carter, claiming negligence. Since then, UIW has waged a court fight to be declared a government unit, so it could be entitled to governmental immunity from the charges.

In the most recent hearing before a three-judge panel at the Fourth Court of Appeals, Redus family lawyers maintained that UIW is a private university that does not receive public funding and thus is not a government unit.

Wymer said the timeline to appeal the appellate court’s decision is uncertain.

“The [Texas] Supreme Court does what the [Texas] Supreme Court does at its own pace,” he said, noting that the case’s progress through the court system has been relatively fast.

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Jeffery Owens