Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Texas Supreme Court
In re Ford Motor Co. & Ken Stoepel Ford, Inc.
Saul Morales was fleeing from the police when one of the police officers left his Ford vehicle, then pursued and apprehended Morales. The officer’s vehicle began rolling backward toward the pair while the officer attempted to handcuff Morales. The vehicle ran over and came to rest on top of Morales, injuring him. Morales sued Ford Motor Company and the car’s seller (collectively, “Ford”), alleging that the vehicle had a design defect. After deposing two of Ford’s expert witnesses, Morales sought to depose a corporate representative of each expert’s employer to expose potential bias. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief, holding that on the facts of this case, the Rules of Civil Procedure did not permit such discovery. View "In re Ford Motor Co. & Ken Stoepel Ford, Inc." on Justia Law
Crosstex Energy Servs. L.P. v. Pro Plus, Inc.
Crosstex Energy Services, LP hired Pro Plus, Inc. as the principal contractor to construct a natural gas compression station. Crosstex sued Pro Plus after an explosion occurred at the station, causing $10 million in property damage. The parties entered an agreement to move expert designation dates beyond the limitations period, but after limitations ran, Pro Plus filed a motion to dismiss because Crosstex had not filed a certificate of merit with its original petition as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 150.002. The trial court denied the motion and granted Crosstex an extension to file the certificate. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals did not err in asserting jurisdiction over Pro Plus’s interlocutory appeal of the extension order; (2) section 150.002’s “good cause” extension is available only when a party filed suit within ten days of the end of the limitations period, and therefore, Crosstex could not claim protection from the good cause extension; and (3) a defendant’s conduct can waive the plaintiff’s certificate of merit requirement, but Pro Plus’s conduct did not constitute waiver. View "Crosstex Energy Servs. L.P. v. Pro Plus, Inc." on Justia Law
Bioderm Skin Care, LLC v. Sok
Veasna Sok sued Bioderm Skin Care, LLC and Dr. Quan Nguyen after Sok purchased laser hair removal treatments from Bioderm and allegedly received burns and scars on her legs due to too high an intensity setting. When Sok did not serve an expert report within 120 days of filing her original petition, Defendants moved to dismiss Sok’s claim, asserting that it was a health care liability claim under the Texas Medical Liability Act. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the trial court to dismiss the claim, holding (1) the rebuttable presumption that Sok’s claim was a Sok care liability claim applied in this case; and (2) Plaintiff failed to rebut this presumption because expert health care testimony was necessary to prove or refute her claim. View "Bioderm Skin Care, LLC v. Sok" on Justia Law
Coinmach Corp. v. Aspenwood Apartment Corp.
A commercial tenant (Tenant) remained in possession of property for over ten years after Tenant lost its lease when the property was sold through foreclosure. The new owner (Owner) continually insisted that Tenant vacate the premises, and Tenant ultimately conceded that it had become a tenant at sufferance. Owner filed suit against Tenant, alleging claims for breach of the terminated lease, for trespass and other torts, and for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA). The trial court entered summary judgment for Tenant on all claims. The court of appeals reversed and remanded in part. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) a tenant at sufferance cannot be liable for breach of a previously terminated lease agreement; (2) a tenant at sufferance is trespassing and can be liable in tort, including tortious interference with prospective business relations; (3) Tenant in this case could not be liable under the DTPA; and (4) Owner in this case could not recover attorney’s fees under the Texas Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act. View "Coinmach Corp. v. Aspenwood Apartment Corp." on Justia Law
Dallas Metrocare Servs. v. Juarez
Defendant was a public nonprofit organization that provided mental health care to county residents. Plaintiff was a patient who sued Defendant after being struck by a falling whiteboard. Defendant pled immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act, arguing that Plaintiff's alleged injury did not arise from Defendant's "use" of personal property. The trial court denied Defendant's plea. Defendant appealed, arguing for the first time that the property's "condition" did not cause the accident. The court of appeals declined to consider this argument because Defendant had not originally asserted it in the trial court. The court of appeals then affirmed the judgment of the trial court, thus rejecting Defendant's arguments that Plaintiff's pleadings failed to demonstrate a waiver of Defendant's immunity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) pursuant to Rusk State Hospital v. Black, the appellate court should have considered all of Defendant's immunity arguments; and (2) the patient's alleged injuries were not caused by the "use" of the whiteboard, and the court of appeals erred to the extent it held otherwise. Remanded. View "Dallas Metrocare Servs. v. Juarez" on Justia Law
Coinmach Corp. v. Aspenwood Apartment Corp.
A commercial tenant remained in possession of premises for six years after it lost its lease when the property was sold through foreclosure. The tenant ultimately conceded that the foreclosure terminated the lease and the tenant became a tenant at sufferance. The property owner sued the tenant for breach of the terminated lease, trespass and other torts, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA). The trial court granted summary judgment for the tenant on all claims. The court of appeals reversed and remanded in part. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a tenant at sufferance cannot be liable for breach of the previously-terminated lease agreement; (2) a tenant at sufferance is a trespasser and can be liable in tort, including, in this case, tortious interference with prospective business relations; (3) the tenant here was not liable under the DTPA because the property owner was not a consumer; and (4) the owner in this case could not recover under the attorney's fees under the Texas Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act. Remanded. View "Coinmach Corp. v. Aspenwood Apartment Corp." on Justia Law
Zanchi v. Lane
Reginald Lane, individually and as personal representative of Decedent's estate, filed suit under the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA) against anesthesiologist Michael Zanchi, alleging negligence. Zanchi was not served with process until September 16. In the meantime, Lane mailed the expert report to Zanchi on August 19. Zanchi filed a motion to dismiss for failure to timely serve an expert report as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(a), arguing that he was not a "party" to Lane's suit until he was served with process. The trial court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed, holding that one is a "party" if so named in a pleading, whether or not one has been served with process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the term "party" in section 74.351(a) means one named in a lawsuit; (2) therefore, a claimant asserting a health care liability claim complies with section 74.351(a) by serving the report on a defendant who has not yet been served with process; and (3) "service" of an expert report on such a defendant need not comport with the service requirements of Tex. R. Civ. P. 106 that apply specifically to service of citation. View "Zanchi v. Lane" on Justia Law
Tex. Adjutant General’s Office v. Ngakoue
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 101.106 bars a suit against a governmental unit after a plaintiff sues the unit's employee regarding the same subject matter. However, if the employee is sued for acts conducted within the general scope of employment, and suit could have been brought under the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA), then the suit is considered filed against the governmental unit. Plaintiff sued an employee (Employee) of the Texas Adjutant General's Office (TAGO). Employee filed a motion to dismiss himself pursuant to section 101.106(f). Plaintiff then filed an amended petition adding TAGO as a defendant and alleging that TAGO's sovereign immunity was waived under the TTCA. The trial court denied Employee's motion to dismiss. Thereafter, TAGO unsuccessfully filed a plea to the jurisdiction and motion to dismiss. The court of appeals reversed the denial of Employee's motion to dismiss but affirmed the denial of TAGO's plea to the jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Employee was entitled to dismissal because the suit against him arose from conduct within his general scope of employment; and (2) the suit against TAGO should proceed because Plaintiff was entitled to, and did, amend his pleadings to assert a TTCA claim against the government. View "Tex. Adjutant General's Office v. Ngakoue" on Justia Law
Nathan v. Wittington
Stephen filed suit against a former business partner, Evan, in Nevada and prevailed on his claims. To collect on the judgment, Stephen filed another suit in Nevada against both Evan and Marc, alleging that Evan had fraudulently transferred assets to Marc in violation of the Nevada Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (Nevada UFTA). The Nevada court dismissed Stephen's claims, concluding that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Marc. Stephen then filed the present suit in a Texas court under the Texas UFTA (TUFTA), alleging that Evan had fraudulently transferred assets to Marc. The trial court granted summary judgment for Marc, concluding that TUFTA's four-year statute of repose extinguished Stephen's claim. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 16.064(a) suspended the expiration of TUFTA's statute of repose and allowed Stephen to file this suit within sixty days after the Nevada court dismissed the second Nevada suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the TUFTA provision that extinguished Stephen's claim was a statute of repose, and section 16.064 applies only to statutes of limitations, section 16.064 did not save or revive Stephen's claim. View "Nathan v. Wittington" on Justia Law
Moncrief Oil Int’l Inc. v. OAO Gazprom
Plaintiff, a Texas company, sued nonresident Defendants in Texas. Plaintiff asserted claims for (1) trade-secret misappropriation regarding a proposed Texas venture during two meetings Defendants attended in Texas, and (2) tortious interference with Plaintiff's relationship with a California corporation. Defendants specially appeared, claiming specific personal jurisdiction over them was lacking. The trial court granted the special appearances. The court of appeals affirmed, holding (1) the location of the two Texas meetings was "merely random or fortuitous" as to Plaintiff's trade secrets claims, and (2) any alleged tortious interference that might have occurred took place in California. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) Defendants' Texas contacts were sufficient to confer specific jurisdiction over Defendants on Plaintiff's trade secrets claim; but (2) the trial court lacked specific personal jurisdiction over Defendants as to Plaintiff's tortious interference claims. Remanded. View "Moncrief Oil Int'l Inc. v. OAO Gazprom" on Justia Law