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The Supreme Court conditionally granted Plaintiff mandamus relief from trial court discovery sanctions in this personal injury case arising from a traffic accident. The trial court judge in Jim Wells County, where the case was pending, denied Plaintiff’s motion for protective orders regarding discovery sought from some of her medical providers. The custodians of the medical providers’ records were located in Bear County and were not parties to the lawsuit. After the Bear County district court judge issued his order granting the custodians protective orders, the Jim Wells County district court judge granted Defendants’ motion to exclude and ordered that certain testimony, medical records, and charges be excluded from the trial as sanctions. Plaintiff sought mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted relief, holding that the requirements for mandamus to issue were satisfied. View "In re Carolina Garza" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted Plaintiff mandamus relief from trial court discovery sanctions in this personal injury case arising from a traffic accident. The trial court judge in Jim Wells County, where the case was pending, denied Plaintiff’s motion for protective orders regarding discovery sought from some of her medical providers. The custodians of the medical providers’ records were located in Bear County and were not parties to the lawsuit. After the Bear County district court judge issued his order granting the custodians protective orders, the Jim Wells County district court judge granted Defendants’ motion to exclude and ordered that certain testimony, medical records, and charges be excluded from the trial as sanctions. Plaintiff sought mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted relief, holding that the requirements for mandamus to issue were satisfied. View "In re Carolina Garza" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant based on limitations, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the discovery rule. Plaintiff was injured when he was exposed to and burned by caustic chemicals while working at an oil well site. Less than two years later, Plaintiff sued several defendants. Plaintiff joined Defendant more than two years after he was injured but less than two years after he was diagnosed with cancer, which he attributed to the chemical exposure. Plaintiff argued that he sued Defendant in a timely manner because his cancer was inherently undiscoverable and that his cause of action did not accrue until he discovered the cancer. The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Plaintiff raised a genuine issue of material fact about whether he knew or should have known the nature of his injury before his cancer diagnosis. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals incorrectly applied the discovery rule and the latent occupational disease rule. View "Schlumberger Technology Corp. v. Pasko" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of mandamus filed by Paul Elizondo, Cynthia Elizondo, and Eagle Fabricators, Inc. (collectively, Elizondo) directing the court of appeals to vacate its opinion directing the trial court to vacate an amended order omitting a Lehmann-like finality phase that it had included in its original order after its plenary power had expired. See Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 205-06 (Tex. 2001). In this action, Elizondo argued that the original order of the trial court was not final and, in the alternative, that Lehmann did not apply to the trial court’s original order. The Supreme Court held (1) the original order’s finality phase was clear, unequivocal, and neither ambiguous nor absurd, and the court of appeals correctly reasoned that the finality phase rendered the record irrelevant to determining whether the order was final; and (2) the trial court’s amended order attempting to correct judicial error beyond the period of that court’s plenary power was void. View "In re Paul & Cynthia Elizondo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Texas Whistleblower Act (WBA) does not apply to open-enrollment charter schools operated by a tax-exempt entity. Petitioner operated an open-enrollment charter school that provided tuition-free public education to students on multiple campuses. Respondent, a teacher for the school, sued the school for violating the WBA by retaliating against her. The trial court denied the school’s plea to the jurisdiction asserting immunity from suit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the WBA contains no specific statement that it applies to open-enrollment charter schools, see section 12.1058(c) of the Texas Charter Schools Act, it does not apply to open-enrollment charter schools. View "Neighborhood Centers Inc. v. Walker" on Justia Law

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In this dispute governed by a collective bargaining agreement between a county and its deputy constables, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals ruling that deputy constables are “police officers” entitled to enter into collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with their public employers under Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code Ann. 174 and that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority in awarding relief to the deputy constables. The county petitioned to vacate the arbitrator’s award, arguing that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in concluding that the county violated the CBA by eliminating several deputy constable positions without regard to seniority and ordering the county to reinstate the deputies in order of seniority. The trial court granted the county’s motion for summary judgment and rendered final judgment in its favor. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that deputy constables are “police officers” under the CBA, that the CBA was valid and enforceable, and that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority in ordering the deputies’ reinstatement on a seniority basis. View "Jefferson County v. Jefferson County Constables Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in this negligence case arising from a motor-vehicle accident that occurred while a drilling-company employee was driving his coworkers from a drilling site to employer-provided housing after a shift, holding that the employer was not entitled to summary judgment on the injured employee’s (Plaintiff) vicarious-liability claim. Plaintiff filed suit against Employer, alleging that Employer was vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Employer, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Employer was not entitled to summary judgment on either no-evidence or traditional grounds on Plaintiff’s vicarious-liability claim. View "Painter v. Amerimex Drilling I, Ltd." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this law firm’s quantum-merit suit for the reasonable value of its services in assisting its client reach a comprehensive settlement of various lawsuits filed against him, the Supreme Court held (1) despite an unenforceable oral contingent-fee agreement, the statute of frauds did not preclude the firm’s quantum-merit claim for services it performed under the agreement; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the firm performed compensable services in negotiating the global settlement, but the firm’s damages expert’s opinion as to the reasonable value of the firm’s services could not be given legal weight, and without the opinion, there was legally insufficient evidence to support the jury’s award. Where there was some evidence of the reasonable value of the law firm’s services, the Supreme Court reversed the part of the court of appeals’ judgment that reinstated the jury’s award, which the trial court set aside in favor of a take-nothing judgment, and remanded the case to the trial court for a new trial on the amount of the firm’s recovery. View "Hill v. Shamoun & Norman, LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals in this case requiring interpretation of retained-acreage provisions in oil-and-gas lease instruments, holding that acreage “included within the proration unit for each well…prescribed by field rules” refers to acreage set by the field rules, not acreage assigned by the operator. XOG Operating, LLC conveyed to Chesapeake Exploration Limited Partnership and Chesapeake Exploration, LLC (collectively, Chesapeake) its rights as lessee under four oil-and-gas leases in three sections of land. Under a retained-acreage provision, the assigned interest would revert to XOG after the primary term. As relevant to appeal, Chesapeake would retain for each well drilled the acreage “included within the proration…unit” “prescribed by field rules.” The acreage not retained by Chesapeake would revert to XOG on termination of the assignment. Chesapeake completed six wells during the primary term of the assignment, five of which were located in an area for which the Railroad Commission had promulgated field rules. The sixth well was located in an area for which there were no field rules. In Chesapeake’s view, it retained all of the assigned acreage. XOG sued Chesapeake to construe the retained-acreage provision. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision that the none of the land at issue reverted to XOG under the retained-acreage provision. View "XOG Operating, LLC v. Chesapeake Exploration Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

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In this case involving competing claims to mineral-lease interests in two tracts of land, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court and court of appeals that the acreage Endeavor Energy Resources, LP and Endeavor Petroleum, LLC (collectively, Endeavor) retained under “retained-acreage clauses” in expired leases did not include the two tracts at issue. Discovery Operating, Inc., which drilled producing wells on the two subject tracts, claimed the mineral-lease interests based on leases acquired directly from the mineral-estate owners. Endeavor based its claim on prior leases with the same owners covering land that included the two subject tracts. Endeavor never drilled on the tracts, and Endeavor’s leases’ terms had expired. However, the leases included “retained-acreage clauses” providing that the leases would continue after they expired as to a certain number of acres associated with each of the wells Endeavor drilled on adjacent tracts. Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower courts, holding that “a governmental proration unit assigned to a well” refers to acreage assigned by the operator, not by field rules. View "Endeavor Energy Resources, LP v. Discovery Operating, Inc." on Justia Law