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In this, the second arising out of a 2014 judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the court of appeals concluding that it lacked jurisdiction, holding that the order was a final appealable order. In the first appeal, Appellant posted a supersedes bond. The appeal was unsuccessful, and the trial court ordered Appellant and his surety to pay the full amount of the bond to Appellees. Appellant appealed from that order. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal, concluding that the payment order was not a final order, and therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the order was a final appealable order. View "McFadin v. Broadway Coffee House, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The trial court abused its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff’s expert report did not represent a good-faith effort to meet the requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act and in dismissing Plaintiff’s health care liability claims. Plaintiff sued Defendants, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and his employer, asserting medical malpractice claims relating to the nurse’s administration before cataract surgery. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that Plaintiff’s expert report was deficient with respect to the elements of standards of care, breach of standards of care, and causation. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the report satisfied the good faith effort the Act requires. View "Baty v. Futrell" on Justia Law

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The pro-forma provision in the tariff in this case, which set the rates and terms for a utility’s relationship with its retail customers, did not conflict with a prior franchise agreement, which reflected the common law rule requiring utilities to pay public right-of-way relocation costs, or the common law, and the franchise agreement controlled as to the relocation costs at issue. At issue was whether the City of Richardson or Oncor Electric Delivery Company must pay relocation costs to accommodate changes to public rights-of-way. The City negotiated a franchise agreement with Oncor requiring Oncor to bear the costs of relocating its equipment and facilities to accommodate changes to public rights-of-way, but Oncor refused to pay such costs. While the relocation dispute was pending, Oncor filed a case with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) seeking to alter its rates. The case was settled, and the resulting rate change was filed as a tariff with the PUC. The City enacted an ordinance consistent with the tariff, which included the pro-forma provision at issue. The Supreme Court held that the provision in the tariff did not conflict with the franchise contract’s requirement that Oncor pay the right-of-way relocation costs at issue. View "City of Richardson v. Oncor Electric Delivery Co." on Justia Law

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In this slip-and-fall case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiff and rendered a take-nothing judgment in favor of Defendant. The court held (1) Plaintiff’s claim submitted to the jury under a general-negligence theory of recovery was properly characterized as one for premises liability, and Plaintiff’s failure to request or secure findings to support his premises liability claim could not support a recovery; and (2) Defendant was under no obligation to object to Plaintiff’s submission of an improper theory of recovery, and Defendant preserved its improper theory argument by raising it in a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. View "United Scaffolding, Inc. v. Levine" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this slip-and-fall case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiff and rendered a take-nothing judgment in favor of Defendant. The court held (1) Plaintiff’s claim submitted to the jury under a general-negligence theory of recovery was properly characterized as one for premises liability, and Plaintiff’s failure to request or secure findings to support his premises liability claim could not support a recovery; and (2) Defendant was under no obligation to object to Plaintiff’s submission of an improper theory of recovery, and Defendant preserved its improper theory argument by raising it in a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. View "United Scaffolding, Inc. v. Levine" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Vethan Law Firm represents Turner in a suit against Lopez, who is represented by Cweren. Vethan hired Wright as a paralegal to work on Turner’s case. Wright exchanged emails with lawyers, communicated with Turner, reviewed confidential information, drafted an engagement letter, and attended meetings in which Vethan attorneys discussed Turner’s case. Wright’s employment ended weeks later. Cweren hired Wright months later. To screen for potential conflicts, Cweren apparently asked interview questions based on the applicant’s resume. Wright did not disclose her employment at Vethan on her resume nor did she volunteer any information during the interview. Wright worked for Cweren on the Turner matter for several months, largely in a clerical capacity. After Vethan noticed Wright’s initials on Cweren documents, Vethan asserted that Wright’s participation required Cweren to withdraw as Lopez’s counsel. Wright denied that she had worked on the Turner matter while employed by Vethan. Cweren refused to withdraw but instructed Wright not to discuss the case with other employees, barred her from viewing any Turner files, and shifted all responsibility for the case to other paralegals. Vethan unsuccessfully moved to disqualify Cweren. The Supreme Court of Texas reversed. A court must grant a motion to disqualify a firm whose nonlawyer employee previously worked for opposing counsel if the nonlawyer obtained confidential information about the matter while working at the opposing firm and then shared that information with her current firm. Both requirements are met here. View "In re Turner" on Justia Law

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Mother had a history of drug use, had been incarcerated for heroin use, and was observed injecting heroin days before the San Antonio Department of Family and Protective Services filed a petition with respect to two-year-old M.M. Months earlier, M.M. had suffered a cigarette burn on her arm. At pretrial hearings, the court found that Mother was not in compliance with her service plan. The Department expressed concern regarding the Mother’s mental stability. Before trial, Mother signed a statutorily compliant affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights,TEX. FAM. CODE 161.103. Mother testified that she had signed the affidavit without coercion and that she signed it truly believing that doing so was in M.M.’s best interest. The caseworker testified that relinquishment of Mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest and that M.M. was in the care of a grandmother providing a safe and secure home. The court rendered a final judgment terminating the Mother’s parental rights. Mother changed her mind and appealed. The court of appeals reversed, reasoning that “the Department was not relieved of its burden to prove best interest" when a parent executed a voluntary affidavit of relinquishment. The Texas Supreme Court reversed. Because Mother’s appeal is not “limited to issues relating to fraud, duress, or coercion” under section 161.211(c), but was based on insufficiency of the evidence, the appeal is foreclosed by statute. View "In the Interest of M.M., a Child" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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A taxpayer that conducts business in multiple states must apportion its business revenue among the states in which it does business. Texas Tax Code section 171.106 provides for such apportionment under a single-factor formula, which compares the taxpayer’s gross receipts derived from its Texas business to its gross receipts everywhere. Section 141.001, however, adopts the Multistate Tax Compact, which sets out a three-factor formula for apportioning“business income” for an“income tax” and provides that a taxpayer subject to a state income tax may elect to apportion its income “in the manner provided by the laws of such state” or may elect to apportion using the Compact’s three-factor formula. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment, holding that apportionment of the Texas franchise tax is exclusively the province of chapter 171. The Supreme Court of Texas affirmed. Section 171.106 provides the exclusive formula for apportioning the franchise tax and, by its terms, precludes the taxpayer from using the Compact’s three-factor formula.The Compact is severable and contains no unmistakable language waiving the state’s exercise of the sovereign tax power. Nothing in the Compact expressly prohibits the states from adopting an exclusive apportionment method that overrides the Compact’s formula. View "Graphic Packaging Corp. v. Hegar" on Justia Law

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The San Antonio Department of Family and Protective Services brought suit on behalf of K.S.L., an infant, stating that Mother had tested positive for drugs. Father later admitted he had relapsed. There was an open legal case concerning the parents and another daughter. The affidavit detailed several incidents of possession, use, and sale of illegal drugs by both parents, including a high-speed chase with the children as passengers. The Department initially sought reunification but the court concluded that the parents were not able to provide K.S.L. with a safe environment and that returning her to the parents was not in her best interest. Both parents signed affidavits of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, represented by counsel. The caseworker testified that the relinquishments were in K.S.L.’s best interest and that arrangement had been made for an uncle to adopt her. The court signed an order of termination, finding by clear and convincing evidence that the parents had signed irrevocable affidavits of relinquishment, and the terminations were in K.S.L.’s best interest. Days later, both parents appealed on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to support the best-interest finding. The court of appeals reversed, holding, “the Department did not meet its burden to establish ... that termination … is in the child’s best interest.” The Supreme Court of Texas reversed, rejecting due process arguments. The parents’ affidavits complied with all statutory directives, Family Code sections: 161.001(b) and 161.211. View "In the Interest of K.S.L., a Child" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the court of appeals and the trial court in this interlocutory appeal arising from Respondent’s lawsuit contesting the validity of a sex offender residency restrictions ordinance enacted by the City of Krum. Respondent sued the City, challenging the City’s authority to pass the ordinance. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that Respondent lacked standing to sue. The trial court denied the plea, and Respondent filed an interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals affirmed the order denying the City’s plea to the jurisdiction. The City filed a petition for review. While the petition was pending, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1111, codified at Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code 341.906, and the City amended its ordinance. The Supreme Court held that Respondent’s challenge to the ordinance was moot in light of these changes in the law. Therefore, the courts lacked jurisdiction over Respondent’s claims. The court vacated the judgments of the court of appeals and the trial court and dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. View "City of Krum, Texas v. Rice" on Justia Law