A state appellate court dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday against the City of San Antonio brought by plaintiffs unhappy with the City Council’s decision to eliminate Chick-fil-A as an airport concession candidate last year.

Five people, including San Antonio Family Association member Patrick Von Dohlen, sued the City of San Antonio last September under the “Save Chick-fil-A” law that Gov. Greg Abbott signed last June. In the suit, the plaintiffs allege that the City decided against putting the fast-food restaurant in the San Antonio International Airport because of its donations to Christian organizations. The City appealed a Bexar County judge’s January decision to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

On Wednesday, the Fourth Court of Appeals reversed the trial court decision to keep the lawsuit going, agreeing with the City on its claim of governmental immunity, which protects governments from being sued unless they waive immunity. 

“While such a suit generally does not implicate governmental immunity …  governmental immunity will preclude the suit if its purpose or effect is to cancel or nullify a contract made for the benefit of the state,” Chief Justice Sandee Bryan Marion wrote. “In other words, where ‘the only plausible remedy’ for the plaintiff’s claim is invalidation of a government contract, governmental immunity bars both suit and liability.”

City Attorney Andy Segovia said that he was pleased the Fourth Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit.

“The plaintiffs tried to use the court to advance a political agenda, and we’re glad to see this matter put to rest,” he said in a statement.

Von Dohlen, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, did not provide comment on Wednesday. The plaintiffs can appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, but the plaintiffs’ attorney Jonathan Mitchell declined to comment on whether they’d do so. 

City Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8) said he was relieved the suit was thrown out.

“I really don’t care about the Chik-fil-A issue these days,” Pelaez said. “We’re facing a pandemic that requires all hands on deck. I have no time for anyone who is more concerned about chicken sandwiches than they are about helping us keep this city safe.”

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is a general assignment reporter at the San Antonio Report.