Justia Texas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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In this divorce action, The Supreme Court reversed in part the court of appeals' judgment reversing the trial court's judgment entering a final decree of divorce incorporating the terms of the parties' mediated settlement agreement (MSA), holding that the court erred in rendering judgment on the MSA in Wife's absence. Before Husband filed a divorce petition Husband and Wife executed an MSA dividing the martial estate and settling child custody issues. Husband then filed the divorce petition. Husband appeared in court for a hearing at the of which the trial court orally rendered judgment on the MSA. Wife did not attend because she did not receive notice of the hearing. Wife later moved to set aside the judgment and to revoke the MSA. The trial court denied the motions and entered a final decree of divorce incorporating the MSA's terms. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) an MSA that resolves the parties' property division and conservatorship issues can satisfy all statutory requirements if it is executed before a petition for divorce is filed; but (2) because Wife did not receive the notice to which she was constitutionally entitled the trial court erred in rendering judgment on the MSA in her absence. View "Highsmith v. Highsmith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this petition for relief seeking to direct Nueces County and the Nueces County Appraisal District to withdraw and cease from issuing tax assessments to Corpus Christi Liquefaction, LLC (CCL), holding that under the circumstances of this case, the Texas Constitution does not permit the Court to exercise the jurisdiction conferred by Tex. Loc. Gov't Code 72.010. For several years, both Nueces County and San Patricio County have taxed structures that are built on land in San Patricio County and extend over the water into Nueces County. In 2017, the Legislature enacted section 72.010, allowing taxpayers who have paid taxes on the same property to each county to sue in the Supreme Court for relief. In this petition, CCL asserted that it was being taxed in both counties on the same property. The Nueces parties, however, argued that three disputed fact issues precluded the Supreme Court's exercise of section 72.010 jurisdiction in this case. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition without prejudice, holding that the parties' disputes over the nature of CCL's facility in relation to the counties' boundary were significant and required resolution. View "In re Corpus Christi Liquefaction, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law
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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over an administrative order because E.A. did not move for rehearing before the administrative law judge and rejecting E.A.'s due process challenge based on the agency's misrepresentation of the proper procedure for judicial review, holding that E.A. was denied due process under the circumstances of this case. In Mosley v. Texas Health & Human Services Commission, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court held that, under the Administrative Procedures Act, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative order must first move for rehearing before the administrative law judge unless another governing statute provides otherwise. This appeal presented the issues decided in Mosley. The Supreme Court (1) agreed with the court of appeals that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because E.A. did not seek rehearing of the order she challenged before the administrative law judge, but (2) held that the agency misrepresented the proper procedure for judicial review in a letter to E.A., thus denying E.A. due process. View "E.A. v. Texas Department of Family & Protective Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over an administrative order because Roderic Horton did not move for rehearing before the administrative law judge and rejecting Horton's due process challenge based on the agency's misrepresentation of the proper procedure for judicial review, holding that Horton was denied due process. In Mosley v. Texas Health & Human Services Commission, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court held that, under the Administrative Procedures Act, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative order must first move for rehearing before the administrative law judge unless another governing statute provides otherwise. This appeal presented the issues decided in Mosley. The Supreme Court (1) agreed with the court of appeals that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because Horton did not seek rehearing of the order she challenged before the administrative law judge, but (2) held that the agency misrepresented the proper procedure for judicial review in a letter to Horton, thus denying Horton due process. View "Horton v. Texas Department of Family & Protective Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over an administrative order because Cheryl Wallace did not move for rehearing before the administrative law judge and rejecting Wallace's due process challenge based on the agency's misrepresentation of the proper procedure for judicial review, holding that Wallace was denied due process. In Mosley v. Texas Health & Human Services Commission, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court held that, under the Administrative Procedures Act, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative order must first move for rehearing before the administrative law judge unless another governing statute provides otherwise. This appeal presented the issues decided in Mosley. The Supreme Court (1) agreed with the court of appeals that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because Wallace did not seek rehearing of the order she challenged before the administrative law judge, but (2) held that the agency misrepresented the proper procedure for judicial review in a letter to Wallace, thus denying Wallace due process. View "Wallace v. Texas Department of Family & Protective Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals upholding the trial court's judgment terminating Mother's parental rights to her fourteen-year-old, holding that the court of appeals erred in failing to address Mother's challenge to the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's finding under Tex. Fam. Code 161.001(b)(1)(D). The trial court terminated Mother's rights to the child under Tex. Family Code 161.003 and 161.003(b)(1)(D),(N), and (O) based on evidence that Mother was subjecting the child to prostitution. The court of appeals affirmed based only on section 161.001(b)(1)(O) and held that termination was in the child's best interest. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the court of appeals (1) correctly found that the evidence was legally sufficient to uphold the determination that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interest, but (2) erred in failing to address Mother's challenge to the section 161.001(b)(1)(D) finding. View "In re Interest of C.W." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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In this personal injury case where Plaintiff sued a state university for negligence the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's denial of the university's plea to the jurisdiction, holding that the Recreational Use Statute applied and that the Tort Claims Act therefore did not waive the university's immunity with respect to Plaintiff's ordinary negligence claim. Plaintiff sued the University of Texas at Austin seeking damages for injuries she received when she was struck by a vehicle driven by a university employee while she was bicycling on university-owned property. The University filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that the Recreational Use Statute classified Plaintiff as a trespasser and because Plaintiff failed to allege or produce evidence of conduct beyond ordinary negligence, the Tort Claims Act did not waive its immunity. The trial court denied the plea. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the Recreational Use statute did not apply. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Recreational Use Statute applied; and (2) because Plaintiff did not assert claims premised on conduct involving malicious intent, bad faith, or gross negligence, the Tort Claims Act did not waive the University's immunity from suit. View "University of Texas at Austin v. Garner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court denied the petition for review filed by the Department of Family and Protective Services challenging the court of appeals' reversal of an order of the trial court granting the Department sole managing conservatorship of a child, Fay, holding that the court of appeals properly remanded the issue of conservatorship for a new trial. The issue of sole managing conservatorship was part of a larger proceeding that resulted in the termination of the parental rights of Fay's parents. The court of appeals reversed to the extent the trial court terminated Father's parental rights and awarded sole managing conservatorship to the Department, concluding that no evidence supported the termination of Father's parental rights and that the Department's appointment as sole managing conservator was an abuse of discretion. The conservatorship issues were severed and remanded for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the record with respect to conservatorship was not adequately developed. View "In re F.E.N." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court answered questions certified to it by holding that a plasma collection center is a "public facility" under Tex. Hum. Res. Code (THRC) 121.002(5) and that a plasma collection center may reject a person with a disability without committing impermissible discrimination under THRC 121.003(a) when two conditions are met. Appellants were not allowed to donate plasma to CSL Plasma, Inc., a plasma collection center, and filed suit, alleging unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability. The district court granted summary judgment for CSL, concluding that the ADA did not apply and that a plasma collection center could not be considered a public facility under the THRC. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals certified questions to the Supreme Court as to whether the THRC governs plasma collection centers. The Supreme Court answered that a plasma collection center is a public facility under section 121.002(5) and that the center may reject a person with a disability without discriminating when (1) the center's rejection does not meet the THRC's definition of "discrimination" or satisfies an exception to the definition of "discrimination," and (2) the center establishes that allowing a person with a disability use of the public facility would pose a threat to the health or safety of others. View "Silguero v. CSL Plasma, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals in this insurance dispute, holding that an insurer's payment of an appraisal award bars an insured's breach of contract claim and bad faith claims but that an insured may proceed on his claim under the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act, Tex. Ins. Code chapter 542. Insured sued Insurer for breach of contract, violations of the Prompt Payment Act, and statutory and common law bad faith insurance practices. Insurer filed a motion to compel appraisal, which the trial court granted. Insurer then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that its payment of the appraisal award resolved all claims in the lawsuit. The trial court granted the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the payment barred Insured's breach of contract claim premised on failure to pay the amount of the covered loss; (2) the payment barred Insured's bad faith insurance practices claims to the extent the only actual damages sought were lost policy benefits; and (3) in accordance with today's decision in Barbara Technologies Corp. v. State Farm Lloyds, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), Insured may proceed on his claim under the Prompt Payment Act. View "Ortiz v. State Farm Lloyds" on Justia Law