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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals determining that Musa “Moses” Musallam failed to preserve error to challenge the jury’s finding that he agreed to sell his business to Amar Ali, holding that Musallam was not precluded from challenging the jury's finding. Musallam and Ali entered into a written agreement relating to the sale of Musallam’s business to Ali. Musallam refused to close and, instead, sought a declaratory judgment that the agreement was unenforceable. During trial, Musallam requested a jury question asking whether he and Ali had agreed to the sale of the business and did not object to the trial court’s including the question in the jury charge. The trial court rendered judgment for Ali based on the jury’s findings. On appeal, Musallam challenged the jury’s finding that he agreed to sell the business to Ali. The court of appeals determined that because Musallam did not object to the jury question at issue, he failed to preserve error to challenge either its inclusion in the charge or the jury’s answer to it. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Musallam’s requesting the jury question did not preclude him from later challenging the jury’s answer to the question. View "Musallam v. Ali" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals in this government-initiated termination proceeding, holding that a parent’s unrecanted and uncontroverted admission that termination is in her children’s best interests, coupled with stipulations as to grounds for termination and permanency plans, are evidence to support the trial court’s best-interest findings. In this case involving the five children of Mother and the three men alleged to be the children’s fathers, the trial court found grounds to terminate the parent-child relationships and that termination of each parent-child relationship was in that child’s best interest. The court approved and incorporated into its final order a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) signed by the parents, counsel, and others in which the parents stipulated that their parental rights would be terminated on two statutory grounds and best interests. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the evidence in the form of statements in the MSA was sufficient to support termination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a parent’s voluntary and affirmative statements that termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interest in an MSA satisfies the requirement that a best-interest finding be supported by clear and convincing evidence. View "In re Interest of A.C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this proceeding under Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code 72.010 authorizing property owners subject to multiple taxation to petition the Supreme Court directly to determine which county is owed taxes, the Court determined that it had original jurisdiction and that taxes on Relators’ property were owed to San Patricio County rather than Nueces County. This dispute concerned shoreline boundary on Corpus Christi Bay. For a decade both Nueces County and San Patricio County have taxed the same piers, docks, and other facilities affixed to land in San Patricio County but extending out into the water in Nueces County. After the statute was enacted and signed into law in 2017, Relators filed an original petition for a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court praying that the Court determine which county is authorized to tax Relators' piers. The Supreme Court held (1) this case presented a compelling reason for the Court to exercise original jurisdiction; (2) section 72.010 does not violate the Texas Constitution’s prohibition against retroactive laws; and (3) San Patricio County is owed the taxes due on Relators' piers. View "In re Occidental Chemical Corp." on Justia Law

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Having granted Petitioner’s motion for rehearing, the Supreme Court withdrew the judgment and opinion issued on June 1, 2018, holding that the contract in this case arose from a municipality’s performance of a propriety function, so governmental immunity did not apply. After the City of Jacksonville terminated James and Stacy Wasson’s (together, Wasson) leases, Wasson filed this suit alleging that the City breached the lease agreements and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The City moved for summary judgment on the grounds that governmental immunity barred Wasson’s claims. The trial court granted the motion. The court of appeals affirmed based on governmental immunity, rejecting Wasson’s argument that the governmental/proprietary dichotomy applies to breach of contract claims. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, ruling that the dichotomy applies whether a municipality commits a tort or breaches a contract. On rehearing, the Court held (1) the nature of the function the City was performing when it entered into the contract governed the analysis as to whether governmental immunity barred the breach of contract claim; and (2) the City was engaged in a propriety function when it allegedly breached the lease agreements, and therefore, governmental immunity did not bar Wasson’s claims. View "Wasson Interests, Ltd. v. City of Jacksonville, Texas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s denial of settlement credits in this case, holding that the trial court erred in failing to apply the one-satisfaction rule and therefore erred in denying the nonsettling defendant the settlement credits they sought. Plaintiff sued Defendants alleging, inter alia, breach of loan note and guaranty agreements, fraud, and conspiracy. The jury awarded Plaintiff damages of $2,665,832 and attorney’s fees. In response to Plaintiff’s motion for judgment, Defendants asserted that under the one-satisfaction rule, they were entitled to offset the final judgment by the amounts the four settling defendants paid to Plaintiff. However, the trial court rendered judgment against Defendants for the full jury award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendants were entitled to reduce the judgment by the total amount of the four settlements Plaintiff received and any applicable interest. View "Sky View at Las Palmas, LLC v. Mendez" on Justia Law

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In this property-tax dispute regarding ownership of tangible personal property the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals determining that Willacy County Appraisal District (WCAD) lacked authority to change the ownership determination to the appraisal roll under Tex. Prop. Tax Code 25.25(b), holding that when, as in this case, an ownership correction to the appraisal roll does not increase the amount of property taxes owed for subject property in the year of correction, an appraisal district’s chief appraiser has statutory authority to make such a correction. WCAD initially listed on the 2009 appraisal roll Sebastian Cotton & Grain Ltd. as the owner of grain inventory stored on its property. WCAD subsequently corrected the appraisal roll to reflect DeBruce Grain as the property owner but ultimately changed the 2009 appraisal roll back to again reflecting Sebastian as the grain’s owner. Sebastian protested. The Supreme Court held (1) the ownership correction was proper; (2) a Tex. Prop. Tax Code 1.111(e) agreement may be rendered voidable if its is proven that the agreement was induced by fraud; and (3) Sebastian was not entitled to attorney’s fees under Tex. Prop. Tax Code 42.29. View "Willacy County Appraisal District v. Sebastian Cotton & Grain, Ltd." on Justia Law

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At issue in this divorce case was whether the trial court properly divided the parties’ community home eighty percent to Wife and twenty percent to Husband where Husband had been convicted for the continuous sexual abuse of Wife’s daughter and where Husband used the family home to commit the abuse. The court of appeals affirmed the property division, concluding that “[t]he division should not be a punishment for the spouse at fault.” Wife appealed, arguing that the division was not just and right. A plurality of the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that where Husband was convicted of using community property to sexually abuse his stepdaughter, it was not “just and right,” as a matter of law, to award Husband an interest in the family home. View "Bradshaw v. Bradshaw" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that trial courts must expressly rule on objections in writing for error to be preserved. Plaintiffs sued Allstate Texas Lloyds and one of its adjusters (collectively, Allstate) asserting contractual and extra-contractual claims. Allstate moved for summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed a summary-judgment response that referred to certain pieces of summary-judgment evidence, including an affidavit, but Plaintiffs failed to attach any evidence to their response. The only evidence Plaintiffs provided was filed late. Allstate objected in writing to Plaintiffs’ summary-judgment evidence on multiple grounds. The trial court granted summary judgment for Allstate but did not specify the grounds for its judgment. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs’ only summary-judgment evidence was incompetent. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) unless Allstate complained of a defect in the evidence’s substance, rather than its form, it was obligated not only to object but also to obtain a ruling on its objection; and (2) Allstate’s objections were waived in this case. View "Seim v. Allstate Texas Lloyds" on Justia Law

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Trial court orders enforcing an agreed spousal-support obligation, specifically, a wage-withholding order and an order assigning retirement benefits to enforce unpaid spousal support, were void. An Oklahoma court entered an order approving and incorporating the parties’ agreements regarding spousal-support obligations. After Husband filed for divorce in Texas, Wife filed the Oklahoma order in the Texas court. The court granted the divorce, incorporating the agreements as approved in the Oklahoma order. The court then issued various post-divorce orders to enforce Husband’s obligations. Husband appealed, challenging a qualified domestic relations order assigning Wife interests in Husband’s retirement accounts and the order dismissing his motion to vacate a wage-withholding order. The court of appeals affirmed as modified. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) wage withholding is not available to support all spousal-support judgments in Texas; and (2) the trial court acted without statutory authority when it assigned additional interests in Husband’s retirement accounts to Wife for Husband’s support arrearages. View "Dalton v. Dalton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that the royalty interest reserved to the grantor in a 1951 deed was fixed - or set at a specific percentage of production - rather than floating - dependent on the royalty amount in the applicable oil and gas lease. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the deed reserved a floating one-half royalty interest. The trial court declared that the deed reserved a floating one-half royalty interest. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the royalty interest was fixed. The Supreme Court reversed in light of the language and structure of the reservation at issue, holding that the deed unambiguously reserved a floating one-half interest in the royalty in all oil, gas, or other minerals produced from the conveyed property. View "U.S. Shale Energy II, LLC v. Laborde Properties, L.P." on Justia Law