Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas
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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's summary judgment concluding that Plaintiff's civil conspiracy claims were barred by limitations, holding that Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 16.003 does not universally apply to civil conspiracy claims. In affirming the summary judgment, the court of appeals followed its own precedent and applied section 16.003, the two-year statute generally applicable to torts, including trespass. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the applicable statute of limitations for civil conspiracy must coincide with that of the underlying tort for which the plaintiff seeks to hold at least one of the named defendants liable; and (2) at least one of the underlying torts asserted as the basis for the conspiracy claims in this case may not be barred by its applicable statute of limitations. View "Agar Corp., Inc. v. Electro Circuits International, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissing a judicial-review claim that had been filed after the forty-five-day deadline to seek judicial review of a decision by a Division of Workers' Compensation appeals panel, holding that while the forty-five-day deadline is mandatory, it is not jurisdictional. Plaintiff sought workers' compensation benefits from Defendant, which disputed the claim. Plaintiff then initiated administrative proceedings. A hearing office found against Plaintiff, and Plaintiff appealed to an appeals panel. While the administrative proceedings were pending, Plaintiff filed a wrongful-death suit and then amended her probate-court pleadings, seeking judicial review of the administrative decision. Defendant successfully filed a plea to the jurisdiction. Plaintiff then filed suit against Defendant in district court seeking judicial review of the appeals panel decision. The district court granted Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed Plaintiff's claims. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the forty-five-day deadline for filing judicial review claims is not a jurisdictional statutory prerequisite, and therefore, the trial court erred in granting Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's failure to file suit before the forty-five-day deadline did not deprive the district court of jurisdiction. View "Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Chicas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the court of appeals holding that an interlocutory order denying a motion for summary judgment based on a claim against or defense by a member of the media or personal quoted by the media involving constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech or of the press refers to the ruling on the entire motion, including nonconstitutional grounds, and Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on all claims against them. Plaintiff sued a publication and an orchestra alleging various tort claims. Defendants each moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims. The trial court granted the motions in part but denied the publication’s motion on Plaintiff’s claims for defamation, conspiracy to defame, negligence, and gross negligence and denied the orchestra’s motion on Plaintiff’s claims for conspiracy to defame and tortious interference with employment. Defendants appealed based on Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 51.014(a)(6). Some of Defendants’ defenses arose under constitutional guarantees of free speech and a free press, but others did not. The court reversed the denial of the publication’s motion for summary judgment and part of the denial of the orchestra’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims. View "Dallas Symphony Ass’n v. Reyes" on Justia Law

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In this proceeding brought pursuant to a petition under Tex. R. Civ. P. 202 to conduct a pre-suit deposition of a website operator, the Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the trial court and the court of appeals and dismissed this case for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the Rule 202 proceeding had been rendered moot by the fact that Petitioner’s potential claims against several anonymous individuals were now time-barred as a matter of law. In its petition, Petitioner sought to investigate potential defamation and business disparagement claims against the anonymous speakers who posted negative statements about Petitioner on a website. The trial court granted Petitioner’s request to depose the website operator under Rule 202, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the lower courts and dismissed this case for want of jurisdiction, holding that the statute of limitations had conclusively run on the potential claims Petitioner sought to investigate under Rule 202, and therefore, Petitioner’s petition for pre-suit discovery was moot. View "Glassdoor, Inc. v. Andra Group, LP" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court in favor of Plaintiff on her claim that Defendant, a neurosurgeon, was negligent, holding that the court of appeals erred in reversing the trial court. The Supreme Court remanded this case to the court of appeals, holding (1) the expert testimony was not conclusory, and therefore, the jury could rely on it to conclude that Defendant was negligent in breaching his standard of care by failing to treat his patient properly; (2) Defendant’s negligence was not too remote to be a proximate cause of the decedent’s death; and (3) the court of appeals erred in deciding factual sufficiency without explaining its application of the standard. View "Windrum v. Kareh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the trial court rendering judgment for Plaintiffs in this negligence action, holding that the trial court erred by excluding certain evidence and that a truck driver’s employer could not be held directly liable for the death of a pedestrian that was killed by the employer’s truck. The decedent’s family filed this action arguing that the truck driver was negligent in operating the truck and that the truck owner, the driver’s employer, was negligent in training the driver. The trial court rendered judgment on the jury’s verdict finding that the negligence of the driver, the truck owner, and the decedent proximately caused the collision. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the pedestrian’s mental illness and the fact that she had alcohol and drugs in her system at the time of the collision; and (2) there was no evidence to support the finding that the alleged negligence of the employer in training the driver proximately caused the collision. View "JBS Carriers, Inc. v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that a health care claimant’s expert report was insufficient as to causation with respect to one of her providers and dismissing her claims against that provider, holding that the expert report adequately addressed both causation and the standard of care. The health care claimant in this case sued a health care provider and two of its physicians for negligence. Only the claimant’s claim against the provider for vicarious liability based on the alleged negligence of its employee nurses was at issue in this appeal. The provider filed a motion to dismiss the claimant’s claims challenging the claimant’s expert report. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals reversed and dismissed the claims against the provider. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the report sufficiently identified the applicable standard of care and linked the provider’s nurses’ alleged breaches with the claimant’s injuries. View "Abshire v. Christus Health Southeast Texas" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the district court correctly dismissed the claim that because of negligent training and handling by private military contractors, a dog that protects soldiers and others by sniffing out enemy improvised explosive devices (IEDs) bit Plaintiff on a United States Army base in Afghanistan. Defendant, which contracted with the Department of Defense to provide teams of working dogs and handlers to the Armed Services, claimed in defense that the incident was caused by the Army’s use and prescribed manner of quartering the dog. Defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting that Plaintiff’s claims were nonjusticiable under the political question doctrine because they required an assessment of the Army’s involvement in causing her alleged injuries. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the case. The court of appeals reversed, thus rejecting the application of the political question doctrine. the Supreme Court reversed, holding that this case is nonjusticiable due to the presence of an inextricable political question. View "American K-9 Detection Services, LLC v. Freeman" on Justia Law

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The common law rule against perpetuities does not invalidate a grantee’s future interest in the grantor’s reserved non-participating royalty interest (NPRI). Lorene Koopmann and her two children sought declaratory judgment against Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Company, L.P. and Lois Strieber to construe a warranty deed by which Strieber conveyed fee simple title to a tract of land to Lorene and her late husband. Under the deed, Strieber reserved a fifteen-year, one-half NPRI. The Koopmans claimed that they were the sole owners of an NPRI as of December 27, 2011. They also asserted claims against Burlington, which leased the tract from the Koopmanns, for breach of contract and other claims. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Koopmans as to the declaratory action and granted summary judgment for Burlington on the negligence and negligence per se claims. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court held (1) the rule against perpetuities does not invalidate the Koopmann’s future interest in the NPRI; (2) Tex. Nat. Res. Code 91.402 does not preclude a lessor’s common law claim for breach of contract; and (3) the court of appeals properly entered judgment as to attorney’s fees pursuant to Tex. R. Civ. P. 91a. View "ConocoPhillips Co. v. Koopmann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted a writ of mandamus sought by Melissa Dawson in this pretrial dispute. Dawson sued Defendant for injuries she received at a bar and restaurant. Upon serving Defendant with her original petition, Dawson also propounded a request for disclosures, interrogatories, and requests for production. More than two weeks after limitations expired, Defendant moved for leave to designate Michael Graciano as a responsible party. Dawson opposed the motion for leave on the ground that, under Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a defendant may not designate a responsible third party after limitations has expired if the defendant has failed to comply with its obligations to timely disclose that the person may be designated as a responsible third party. The trial court, however, granted leave. After the court of appeals denied Dawson’s request for mandamus relief, she filed this proceeding. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the writ, holding that Dawson presented adequate grounds for relief by mandamus. View "In re Melissa Dawson" on Justia Law