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Wrongful Death Case of Christian Taylor Moves through Texas Court Systems
COLLEGE STATION — Attorneys representing the family of Texas A&M student Christian Taylor have filed an appeal to The Supreme Court of Texas. With the appeal, attorneys are hoping the court will determine that the facts of the case, as pled, waive the state university’s sovereign immunity status so that the family can move forward with their wrongful death case.
Taylor’s story made national headlines in 2014 after the biochemistry student somehow ingested Sodium Cyanide on Texas A&M University’s campus. Taylor died two days later. The Taylor family’s appeal to the Texas Supreme Court comes nearly a year after the trial court ruled that the facts of the case did waive Texas A&M University’s sovereign immunity.
The parents of Taylor, through Carlson Law Firm Attorney Jody Leake, filed the lawsuit against A&M University in October 2016. In the lawsuit, the family pled, among other things, that the university may be negligent in Taylor’s death by providing him with a key to freely access a lab that stored Sodium Cyanide—the deadly chemical that ultimately led to his death. Further, the suit states that it is likely that A&M was aware of Taylor’s mental condition, as he sought counseling through the university prior to the tragic incident.
Under the sovereign immunity doctrine, governmental entities cannot be sued unless the Texas Legislature has waived sovereign immunity. The facts of each case will determine whether the statutory waivers apply. During the initial hearing in the 85th Judicial District, Leake was successful in arguing that the state university was not immune to a lawsuit under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Among other waivers pled, the lawsuit asserts that Taylor’s death arises from the use and/or condition of tangible personal property. The use of property being that A&M provided a key to the lab containing deadly chemicals, and the condition of the property (Sodium Cyanide) being unsecured within the lab.
After the Taylor family’s victory in the trial court A&M, through the Texas Attorney General, appealed the trial court’s decision to the Tenth Court of Appeals. In early July 2018, the Tenth Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision regarding the waiver of sovereign immunity. Leake filed an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court on behalf of the family on Aug. 15.
“We’re appealing to the Texas Supreme Court because we believe the facts of this case, as pled, do waive A&M’s sovereign immunity. We’re committed to getting this family justice until the highest Court in Texas tells us otherwise.” Leake said.
Taylor’s death received significant news coverage in 2014. There has been much speculation around Taylor’s death, whether it was truly a tragic accident, or whether Christian meant to take his own life.
“This isn’t a criminal case. I don’t need, nor do I care about motive,” said Leake. “In my opinion, Texas A&M University shouldn’t have provided a key to a laboratory with unsecured, deadly chemicals inside.”
Jody Leake is a personal injury attorney with The Carlson Law Firm. With 12 locations across the state, The Carlson Law Firm is a Texas-based personal injury firm committed to providing exceptional legal services to our communities. We handle a variety of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle injuries and workplace injuries, as well as medical malpractice, defective products, nursing home neglect, offshore injuries, wrongful death and much more.
Media Contact: Kazia Conway