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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the order of the trial court denying Defendant hospital's plea to the jurisdiction on Plaintiff's complaint alleging personal injury and death proximately cause by a condition or use of tangible personal property, holding that Plaintiffs sufficiently demonstrated both use and proximate cause. At issue was whether Defendant's use of an allegedly improper carrier agent during surgery constitutes negligent use of tangible personal property and, if so, whether sufficient evidence established that this use proximately caused the decedent's death. On appeal to the Supreme Court Defendant argued that because the carrier agent was properly administered during surgery, Plaintiffs complained only of negligent medical judgment, for which immunity was not waived. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction, holding that regardless of the manner in which the property was administered, when, as here, the claim was premised on Defendant's use of property that was improper under the circumstances and caused harm, this was sufficient to establish negligent use under the Texas Tort Claims Act. View "University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center v. McKenzie" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in this insurance dispute, holding that an insurer's payment of an appraisal award is neither an acknowledgment of liability under the policy nor an award of actual damages. After Insurer investigated Insured's claim and rejected it, Insurer invoked the policy's provision for an appraisal process and paid Insured in full in accordance with the appraisal. Insured sued Insurer and moved for summary judgment, asserting that State Farm violated the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act (TPPCA), Tex. Ins. Code ch. 542, by failing to pay the claim within the TPPCA's time limitation and therefore owed damages. Insurer filed a cross-motion for summary judgment asserting that it timely paid the appraisal award and was not liable. The trial court granted summary judgment for Insurer. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Insured did not establish that it was entitled to TPPCA prompt pay damages as a matter of law and Insurer likewise did not establish that it can owe no TPPCA damages as a matter of law, the case must be remanded. View "Barbara Technologies Corp. v. State Farm Lloyds" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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In this case arising from an offer to purchase an assignment of a farmout that fell through the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that Plaintiff could not prevail on its breach of contract claim or fraud claim as a matter of law, holding that, as a matter of law, both claims failed. The trial court granted judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its claims. The court of appeals reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff's breach of contract claim failed as a matter of law because the contract's consent-to-assignment provision unambiguously gave Defendant an unqualified right to refuse to consent, and (2) Plaintiff's fraud claim failed as a matter of law because Plaintiff could not justifiably rely on an oral promise to do something that was addressed in the written contract. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant could not have breached the contract as a matter of law because the plain language of the contract unambiguously entitled Defendant to withhold its consent to a proposed assignment; and (2) where the written terms of the contract controlled Plaintiff could not justifiably rely on an oral statement. View "Barrow-Shaver Resources Co. v. Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals divesting the Petitioners of an interest in property they inherited from their mother, holding that the estoppel by deed doctrine did not apply in this case and that Petitioners were entitled to retain the interest. At issue was whether the estoppel by deed doctrine or the Court's opinion in Duhig v. Peavy-Moore Lumber Co., 144 S.W.2d 878 (Tex. 1940), applied to prevent Petitioners from asserting title to the interest they inherited from their mother when Petitioners' father previously purported to sell that interest to Respondents. The trial court ruled in favor of Petitioners. The court of appeals reversed and rendered judgment for Respondents based on estoppel by deed and the Court's decision in Duhig. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because Petitioners claimed their interest from their mother, an independent source predating the deed at issue, neither estoppel by deed nor the decision in Duhig applied to divest Petitioners of that interest. The Court remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether damages were appropriate for Respondents' breach of warranty claim. View "Trial v. Dragon" on Justia Law

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In this appeal of a $1.4 million sanction levied to compensate Respondents, the prevailing parties, for their attorney's fees in defending against a frivolous lawsuit, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment affirming the sanctions award and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the standard for fee-shifting awards in Cf. Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex.2019), likewise applies to fee-shifting sanctions. In the first appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that Petitioner's pleadings were groundless and sanctionable and remanded for the trial court to reassess its award of attorney's fees. On remand, the trial court reassessed the same $1.4 million sanction originally granted for attorney's fees. On appeal, Petitioner argued that Respondents' affidavits were insufficient to prove that the $1.4 million sanction was a reasonable and necessary attorney's fee. In response, Respondents argued that a different standard of proof applies for attorney's fees awarded as sanctions because the purpose of sanctions is to punish violators and deter misconduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that all fee-shifting situations require reasonableness and that conclusory affidavits containing mere generalities about the fees for working on Petitioner's frivolous claims are legally insufficient to justify the sanction awarded in this case. View "Nath v. Texas Children's Hospital" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted Appellant's petition for writ of mandamus where, while an interlocutory Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) appeal was pending, the court of appeals granted Appellees' motion to lift a statutory stay for a limited purpose, holding the the court of appeals' order violated the statutory stay and that the relator had no adequate remedy by appeal. During certain interlocutory appeals, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 51.014(b), stays the commencement of a trial pending resolution of the appeal. For a subset of these interlocutory appeals, including appeals from the denial of a motion to dismiss under the TCPA, the statute also stays all other trial court proceedings pending resolution of that appeal. While an interlocutory TCPA appeal was pending, the court of appeals granted a motion to lift the statutory stay for the limited purpose of allowing the trial court to conduct a hearing on Appellees' request for temporary injunction and motion for contempt. Appellant filed a petition for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the mandamus petition, holding that the court of appeals abused its discretion by authorizing the trial court to conduct further trial court proceedings in violation of the legislatively mandated stay of "all other proceedings in the trial court." View "In re Geomet Recycling LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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In this wrongful death case arising from the deaths of two motorists whose vehicle struck an unbarricaded dirt mound completely blocking an unlit country road the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the suit for want of jurisdiction, holding that Defendant, the City of Killeen, had actual notice as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 101.101(c) of the Tort Claims Act. The decedents' relatives brought this suit alleging that the dirt mount was a "special defect" on the City's premises. The relative conceded that formal notice under section 101.101(a) was lacking but argued that the City had actual notice under section 101.101(c). The trial court denied the City's plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed and dismissed the case, holding that the evidence was legally insufficient to establish that the City had subjective awareness of its fault in producing or contributing to the decedents' injuries. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the facts conclusively established that the City knew its investigators had concluded that the condition of a road under its putative jurisdiction contributed to the deaths of two motorists, and therefore, the City had actual notice of a claim within the meaning of section 101.101(c). View "Worsdale v. City of Killeen, Texas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury