This summary judgment case requires that we determine whether section 16.061 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code
Section 16.061 is the successor statute to former Article 5517 of the Texas Revised Civil Statutes. Prior to its amendment in 1953, Article 5517 provided that "[t]he right of the State shall not be barred by any of the provisions of this title...." Acts of April 6, 1939, 46th Leg., 1939 Tex.Gen.Laws 485, repealed by, Acts 69th Leg., ch. 959, § 9, eff. Sept. 1985.
In 1953, Article 5517 was amended to expand the list of entities covered by the statute, providing that "[t]he right of the State, all counties, incorporated cities and all school districts shall not be barred by any of the provisions of this Title...." Acts of May 19, 1953, 53rd Leg., 1953 Tex.Gen.Laws 857, repealed by, Acts 69th Leg., ch. 959, § 9, eff. Sept. 1985.
In 1985, section 16.061 was enacted as a non-substantive codification of Article 5517. Johnson v. City of Fort Worth, 774 S.W.2d 653, 655 (Tex.1989). In 1989, section 16.061 was amended to "conform it to the source law from which it was derived." SENATE COMM. ON STATE AFFAIRS, BILL ANALYSIS, Tex. H.B. 221, 71st Leg., R.S. (1989). Neither the 1985 codification nor the 1989 amendment expanded the list of entities encompassed by section 16.061.
Monsanto contends that a plain and literal reading of section 16.061 demonstrates that it does not apply to a municipal utility district such as Cornerstones. We agree.
The goal of statutory construction is to give effect to the intent of the legislature. Harris County Dist. Attorney's Office v. J.T.S., 807 S.W.2d 572, 574 (Tex.1991). "Where language in a statute is unambiguous, this court must seek the intent of the legislature as found in the plain and common meaning of the words and terms used." Moreno v. Sterling Drug, Inc., 787 S.W.2d 348, 352 (Tex.1990); RepublicBank Dallas, N.A. v. Interkal, Inc., 691 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Tex.1985). When the legislature has failed to define a word or term, courts will apply its ordinary meaning. Geters v. Eagle Ins. Co., 834 S.W.2d 49, 50 (Tex.1992); Hopkins v. Spring Indep. School Dist., 736 S.W.2d 617, 619 (Tex.1987). When applying the ordinary meaning, courts "may not by implication enlarge the meaning of any word in the statute beyond its ordinary meaning, and implications from any statutory passage or word are forbidden when the legislative intent may be gathered from a reasonable interpretation of the statute as it is written." Sexton v. Mount Olivet Cemetery Ass'n, 720 S.W.2d 129, 138 (Tex.App.—Austin 1986, writ ref'd n.r.e.); Commonwealth of Mass. v. United N. & S. Dev. Co., 140 Tex. 417, 168 S.W.2d 226, 229 (1942).
The language of section 16.061 is clear and unambiguous. The statute applies to "[a] right of action of this state, a county, an incorporated city or town, or a school district...." TEX.CIV.PRAC. & REM.CODE ANN. § 16.061 (emphasis added). The legislature has not defined "state" as it is used in section 16.061.
The ordinary meaning of "state," as it used by the Texas courts, envisions an entity
Id. at 531 (footnote omitted).
This interpretation of "state" comports with the legislature's ordinary use of the word. State government is defined generally in terms of the executive, legislative, and/or judicial branches, excluding entities with limited jurisdiction.
To read "political subdivision" into "state" would by implication enlarge "state," and section 16.061, beyond their plain and ordinary meaning. Such implication is forbidden when, as here, the legislative intent may be determined from a reasonable interpretation of the statute as written. Applying the ordinary meaning of "state" to section 16.061, we conclude that it was the intent of the legislature to include within "state" only those entities having statewide jurisdiction.
Cornerstones advanced several other points of error in the court of appeals but that court did not consider the points because of its erroneous interpretation of section 16.061. Consequently, we remand the entire cause to the court of appeals for further proceedings.
For the reasons explained herein, we reverse and remand this cause to the court of appeals.
PHILLIPS, C.J., and GONZALEZ, HECHT, CORNYN, GAMMAGE and SPECTOR, JJ., join in the opinion and the judgment.
DOGGETT and ENOCH, JJ., not sitting.
TEX.CIV.PRAC. & REM.CODE ANN. § 16.061 (Vernon Supp.1993).