Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas
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In this dispute over an arbitration clause within a contract, the Supreme Court held that the minor children who joined Plaintiffs, their parents, in bringing this action seeking damages for construction defects in their home may be compelled to arbitrate along with their parents on the basis of direct-benefits estoppel.Plaintiffs, Tony and Michelle Ha, signed a purchase agreement with Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. to build a home in Texas. The agreement included an arbitration provision. The Has sued both Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. and Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc., for negligent construction and other claims, alleging the home developed significant mold problems due to construction defects. Plaintiffs' second amended petition named both Tony and Michelle and their three children. Taylor Morrison moved to compel arbitration, but the trial court denied the motion as it pertained to Michelle and the children. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that when a family unit resides in a home and files suit for factually intertwined construction-defect claims concerning the home, a nonsignatory spouse and minor children have accepted direct benefits under the signatory spouse’s purchase agreement such that they may be compelled to arbitrate through direct-benefits estoppel. View "Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc. v. Ha" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over an arbitration clause within a contract, the Supreme Court held that the minor children who joined Plaintiffs, their parents, in bringing this action seeking damages for construction defects in their home may be compelled to arbitrate along with their parents on the basis of direct-benefits estoppel.Plaintiffs, Jack and Erin Skufca, signed a purchase agreement with Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. to build a home in Texas. The agreement included an arbitration provision. Plaintiffs sued both Taylor Woodrow Communities-League City, Ltd. and Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc., for construction defects and fraud, alleging that less than a year after they moved in, the home developed mold issues that caused their minor children to be ill. The petition listed Jack and Erin as plaintiffs individually, as well as Erin as next friend of the couple's children. Taylor Morrison moved to compel arbitration, but the trial court denied the motion as it pertained to the children. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the minor children sued based on the contract and were subject to its terms, including the arbitration clause. View "Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc. v. Skufca" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of the company alleged to be a deceased worker's employer and dismissing this vicarious liability case, holding that the court of appeals erred.An oilfield worker was involved in a fatal accident as he was driving to the oilfield drilling site after completing personal errands. At issue was whether the court of appeals erroneously relied upon the "special mission" exception in declining to apply the general rule that an employer is not vicariously liable for negligence arising from employee travel to and from work. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a personal trip for groceries does not fall within the special mission exception to the general rule that an employer is not vicariously liable for an employee's negligent acts while the employee travels to and from work. View "Cameron International Corp. v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury case, the Supreme Court held that a governmental defendant retains its immunity from suit as to a claim that exceeds the applicable damages cap,Plaintiff was crossing the street when he was hit by a bus driven by an employee of Defendant, the Gulf Coast Center, and sued Defendant for his resulting injuries. Defendant answered, claiming that it was a governmental unit, that it was protected from suit and liability by governmental immunity, and that its liability, if any, was limited by the Texas Tort Claims Act. The jury found Defendant negligent and awarded Plaintiff $216,000. Defendant appealed, arguing that the Act capped its liability at $100,000. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Act waives a governmental unit's immunity from suit only to the extent the act waives it immunity from liability, and therefore, courts lack jurisdiction to render a judgment that exceeds the applicable damages cap under Tex. Civ. Proc. & Rem. Code 101.023. View "Gulf Coast Center v. Curry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted a writ of mandamus sought by real parties in interest (the Paus) in this action brought against Relators (collectively, Auburn Creek) seeking $33 million in damages allegedly caused by carbon-monoxide exposure in a dwelling the Paus leased from Auburn Creek, holding that the trial court clearly abused its discretion in denying Auburn Creek's motion to compel.Auburn Creek filed a motion to compel a neuropsychological exam for each of the Pau family members. The trial court denied the motion with prejudice on the grounds that the scope of the exams was not sufficiently circumscribed and subsequently denied Auburn Creek's request for mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted relief, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by concluding that Auburn Creek had not shown good cause for the exams. View "In re Auburn Creek Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment below and remanded this case for further proceedings that will allow the district court to render a judgment that complies with the periodic-payments statute, holding that the district court erred in how it structured the periodic payments in this case.A.M.A. was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after being deprived of oxygen during extended periods during his mother's labor. A jury awarded future healthcare expenses in the amount of almost $10,000,000. The trial judge ordered the award structured into periodic payments. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that there was nothing in the evidence that justified the way the trial court ordered the periodic payments to be structured. View "Columbia Valley Healthcare System, L.P. v. A.M.A." on Justia Law

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In this good Samaritan case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing in part the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this wrongful death and survival action, holding that the court of appeals erred in reversing summary judgment for Defendant.At issue was whether Dawn Hancock had a duty to exercise reasonable care as to Jeffrey Landrum, who was crushed by a portable storage unit. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals reversed in part, ruling (1) because Hancock participated in the unloading of the storage unit, she undertook a duty to protect Landrum from dangers that an ordinarily prudent person could foresee were a likely result of the situation; and (2) a fact issue remained as to whether Dawn failed to continue to render Landrum assistance. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that any duty imposed on Dawn by undertaking to help Landrum ended when the unloading process was completed. View "Three Aces Towing, Inc. v. Landrum" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Tyler and dismissing this personal injury action arising under the Texas Tort Claims Act on the grounds that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, holding that the trial court's jurisdiction was secure.Plaintiff was allegedly injured when he was driving a truck for his employer and an improperly secured piece of lumber flew off a truck owned by the City entered the driver side window and struck Plaintiff in the head. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment filed by the City, concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because Plaintiff failed timely to provide the City with notice of his claim. View "Leach v. City of Tyler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court for a pioneering cardiovascular surgeon in this dispute between the surgeon and the hospital where he formerly worked, holding that the evidence was not legally sufficient to support the jury's award.Plaintiff and his professional association sued Defendant for engaging in a retaliatory "whisper campaign" against him after he left Defendant for a new rival hospital, alleging illegal restraint of trade (anticompetition claims), tortious interference with prospective business relations, defamation, and business disparagement. The jury rejected Plaintiff's anticompetition claims but found that Defendant had defamed Plaintiff and disparaged his professional association. Defendant appealed, arguing that no evidence supported the jury's defamation and disparagement findings. The court of appeals affirmed based on its interpretation of the jury charge. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment for Defendant, holding that no evidence supported the jury's award in this case. View "Memorial Hermann Health System v. Gomez" on Justia Law

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In this workplace injury case, the Supreme Court conditionally granted YRC, Inc.'s petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its order denying YRC's motion for leave to designate a responsible third party and to grant the motion, holding that YMC's motion was timely, contrary to the trial court's conclusion.Defendants in this case sought to designate Plaintiff's employer as a responsible party sixty-two days before the suit's third trial setting and more than five years the injury. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that it was untimely. The court of appeals denied mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief, holding (1) the motion was timely filed and pleaded sufficient facts; and (2) there was no applicable limitations period for Plaintiff to join the third-party employer as a defendant on tort cause of action because workers' compensation was his exclusive remedy. View "In re YRC Inc." on Justia Law