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Jefferson County v. Jefferson County Constables Ass’n, __ S.W.3d __, __ (Tex. 2018), in which the Supreme Court held that the Fire and Police Employee Relations Act applies to deputy constables because they qualify as “police officers” under the Act’s definition of that term, resolved the issue presented in this case and necessitated reversal of the court of appeals’ judgment. Petitioner was terminated from his employment as a deputy constable in Jefferson County and sued for a declaratory judgment and a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the County to participate in a binding arbitration under the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement between the County and its deputy constables’ bargaining association. The trial court granted Petitioner’s requests and ordered the parties to participate in binding arbitration. The court of appeals dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction, holding that deputy constables are not “police officers” under the Act and have no right to bargain collectively with their public employers. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that this issue was definitively resolved against the County in Jefferson County. View "Stines v. Jefferson County, Texas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that Grandparents lacked standing to pursue a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) under Tex. Fam. Code 102.003(a)(9). Section 102.003(a)(9) confers standing to pursue a SAPCR on nonparents who have had “actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months.” The child at issue in this case lived in Grandparents’ home for the first twenty-three months of her life. During the last eight of those months, Grandparents were the child’s primary caretakers and providers. Grandparents filed a petition to modify a SAPCR order requesting conservatorship of the child. The trial court dismissed the petition, determining that Grandparents did not establish that they had “actual care” or “actual control” over the child for the six-month period preceding their petition filing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Grandparents, having continuously engaged in a parent-like role on a day-to-day basis during the statutory time period, had standing to pursue a SAPCR under section 102.003(a)(9). View "In re H.S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this medical-malpractice case stemming from the death of Shannon McCoy, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that judgment was properly entered in favor of Plaintiff as to Dr. Debra Gunn’s negligence in this case and that Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates, P.A. (OGA) was vicariously liable for Dr. Gunn’s negligence. The Court further held (1) there was legally sufficient evidence of causation; (2) the trial court erred in excluding deposition testimony of Defendants’ expert witness regarding future medical expenses, but the error was harmless; (3) the medical billing affidavits providing proof of past medical expenses were proper; (4) the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on unavoidable accident; (5) OGA’s indemnity claim against Dr. Gunn was properly asserted post-verdict; and (6) Shannon’s death on the eve of the court of appeals’ decision did not create a windfall for Plaintiff. View "Gunn v. McCoy" on Justia Law

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Because the workers’ compensation carrier in this case signed away its right to recover benefits it paid to an injured employee and received a high premium in exchange for assuming that risk it cannot later seek indirectly to recover the same proceeds it agreed not to pursue directly. The carrier her paid benefits to the employee and later sought reimbursement of those payments from any settlement proceeds the employee might receive from a third party. The policy, however, included an endorsement waiving the carrier’s right to recover from a third party sued by the employee. The employee moved for summary judgment declaring that the carrier had waived its right to recover any proceeds from the lawsuit, whether directly from the third party or indirectly from any settlement the third party pays to the employee. The trial court granted summary judgment for the employee, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the waiver foreclosed the carrier’s right to recover from a liable third party, and that waiver included direct recovery from the third party or indirect recovery of the same proceeds after the third party paid them to the employee. View "Wausau Underwriters Insurance Co. v. Wedel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that the City of Houston does not have governmental immunity from a suit by the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System. This case arose from a dispute over the City of Houston’s creation of local government corporations to which the City transferred some of its employees. At issue was the adoption of resolutions by the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System’s Board of Trustees (Board) related to those employees, their status regarding the City’s pension fund, the correct interpretation of the governing statute. The Houston Municipal Employees Pension System (System) brought this suit seeking to enforce the City’s purported obligation to make contributions to the pension fund. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that governmental immunity barred the System’s claims. The trial court denied the City’s plea. The court of appeals reversed in part. The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals and directed that the City’s plea should be denied in full, holding (1) the employees at issue are “members” of the System; (2) the System’s ultra vires and mandamus claims are not barred; and (3) the System’s claims for information pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act are not barred. View "City of Houston v. Houston Municipal Employees Pension System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed with prejudice a land developer’s claim against a county commissioner in his official capacity, holding that the developer did not have standing to pursue its claim for injunctive relief against the county commissioner. In its complaint, the developer sought mandamus relief requiring the county engineer to submit the developer’s completed plat application to the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court for approval. At issue in this appeal was the injunctive relief the developer sought against the commissioner, alleging that the commissioner inappropriately instructed the county engineering department to delay processing the submitted plat and construction plans. The commissioner filed a plea to the jurisdiction claiming that the developer’s suit against him in his official capacity was barred by governmental immunity. The trial court denied the plea. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because an individual county commissioner in Fort Bend County lacks legal authority to receive, process, or present a completed plat application to that county’s commissioners court for approval, the developer failed to show a substantial likelihood that the injunction it sought will remedy its alleged injury. View "Meyers v. JDC/Firethorne, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The prohibition in Texas Fam. Code 231.211(a) that courts may not assess costs at the conclusion of a Title VI-D case against a party who was provided services by the Title IV-D agency applies to courts of appeals. Shana Williams filed a suit that resulted in a determination that Christopher Spates was the father of Williams’ child and an order that he pay child support. The trial court later signed a modification order that retroactively reduced Spates’s child support obligation. Williams subsequently moved successfully to void the modification order based on a procedural anomaly. The court of appeals reinstated the modification order and assessed court costs against Williams. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) moved for rehearing regarding the assessment of costs, arguing that section 231.211(a) prohibited the assessment. The court of appeals denied the motion on the grounds that the prohibition does not apply to appellate courts. The Supreme Court reversed on this issue, holding that the OAG has statutory standing to bring this appeal and that section 231.211(a)’s prohibition of the assessment of fees and costs applies to both trial courts and appellate courts. View "In re C.Y.K.S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Texas-residency exception that excludes certain claims from the forum non conveniens doctrine because the claims are prosecuted by a Texas-resident plaintiff or derivative of a Texas decedent applied to some of Plaintiffs’ underlying claims in this case. Venice Alan Cooper was killed while working on his Mahindra tractor at his home in Mississippi. The tractor was sold to the decedent in Mississippi. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s sons and Texas residents, filed a negligence and products liability action in Texas against Mahindra USA, Inc., the tractor’s vendor. Mahindra filed a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when ruling on the motion because the Texas-residency exception to the forum non conveniens doctrine applied to some of Plaintiffs’ underlying claims. View "In re Mahindra, USA Inc." on Justia Law

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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court held that the issue of whether the trial court properly disregarded some of the jury’s findings should be remanded to the court of appeals for reconsideration in light of this Court’s decision in USAA Texas Lloyds Co. v. Menchaca, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2018). Plaintiffs sued their insurer, State Farm, for breach of contract and Insurance Code violations. The jury found that both parties breached the insurance contract but that Plaintiffs breached first. The jury then awarded damages for State Farm’s breach of the policy and for Plaintiffs’ extra-contractual claims. The trial court disregarded two of the jury’s findings about Plaintiffs’ breach of the insurance contract and rendered judgment for Plaintiffs. The court of appeals affirmed. While State Farm's appeal was pending, the Supreme Court issued its final opinion and judgment in Menchaca, which clarified whether an insured can recover policy benefits based on an insurer’s violation of the Texas Insurance Code even though the jury failed to find that the insurer failed to comply with its obligations under the policy. On appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) State Farm’s first issue should be remanded for reconsideration in light of Menchaca; and (2) as to the remaining issues, the court of appeals’ judgment is affirmed. View "State Farm Lloyds v. Fuentes" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Grandparents were liable to Father for assisting in their daughter’s (Mother) interference with Father’s possessory rights to his children. Mother employed “egregious and outrageous tactics” to prevent Father from seeing the parties’ two children, including coaching the parties’ young son to falsely accuse his father of sexual abuse. While the abuse allegations were under investigation, Grandparents supported Mother by helping her care for the children. Father sued Grandparents for negligence, defamation, and “aiding and assisting” Mother’s interference with his possessory rights, in violation of Tex. Fam. Code chapter 42. The trial court awarded Father more than $10.5 million in damages. The court of appeals reversed as to the defamation charge and a small portion of the Family Code damages award but otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part and rendered a take-nothing judgment, holding (1) the defamation claims were unsustainable due to lack of pleadings and sufficient causation evidence; and (2) the evidence was legally insufficient to support Grandparents’ liability under chapter 42 and the tort theories alleged. View "Bos v. Smith" on Justia Law