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The Supreme Court overruled its decision in Faris v. Faris, 138 S.W.2d 830, 832 (Tex. App. 1940) ruling that a devisee's default is imputed to his own devisee, even where the latter is not in default, holding that Texas Estates Code 256.003(a) holding that the applicant for the probate of the will is in default in failing to timely probate the will. Linda Ferreira, in her capacity as executor of her ex-husband Norman's estate, offered the will of Patricia Hill, whom Norman subsequently married, for probate nine years after Patricia's death. Douglas and Debra Butler, Patricia's intestate heirs, contested the probate of the will on the ground that it was barred by the four-year limitations period in section 256.003(a). The trial court granted summary judgment for the Butlers. The court of appeals affirmed, holding (1) Norman's default in probating Patricia's will applied to Linda, and (2) even if Linda had applied to probate the will in her individual capacity as a devisee of a devisee, Norman's default would bar her application under Faris. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, under section 256.003(a), when an applicant seeks late probate of a will in her individual capacity, only the applicant's conduct is relevant to determining whether she was not in default. View "Ferreira v. Butler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, holding that the public's right to information under the Texas Public Information Act (PIA) is subject to reasonable limitations when its production may lead to physical harm. Plaintiffs sought information regarding the source of drugs used in Texas executions by lethal injection. The trial court agreed with Plaintiffs that disclosing the source's identity would not create a substantial threat of physical harm to the source's employees and others. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law that the physical safety exception to the PIA applies to protect the identity of a vulnerable retail compounding pharmacy from public disclosure. View "Texas Department of Criminal Justice v. Levin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in part and rendered judgment dismissing all of Plaintiffs' claims against the Tarrant Regional Water District, which constructed and maintained the dam from which Plaintiffs' daughter fell and drowned, holding that section 101.056 of the Tort Claims Act, known as the discretionary function exception, applied in this case, and therefore, governmental immunity barred Plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs' daughter was attempting to walk across a dam when she lost her footing and slipped into the river and drowned. Plaintiffs sued the District. The District filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that Plaintiffs' claims were barred because of section 101.056, which creates an exception to the waivers of immunity otherwise provided by the Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the District's plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed in part but upheld the trial court's denial of the District's plea to the jurisdiction as to Plaintiffs' premise-defect claim based on the scoured or eroded riverbed and the resulting possibility of a "hydraulic boil." The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the District's failure to make the judgments Plaintiffs claim it should have made was the kind of "policy decision[] committed to the other branches of government" that section 101.056 shields from second-guessing. View "Tarrant Regional Water District v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court finding that the holder of the executive right to lease a mineral estate violated its duty of utmost good faith and fair dealing by refusing to lease in contravention of the non-executive's known wishes, holding that legally sufficient evidence supported the trial court's finding. The executive right inherent in mineral ownership encompasses the right to execute oil and gas leases. The Supreme Court has previously held that the executive's duty owed to the non-executive mineral- or royalty-interest owners of utmost faith and fair dealing requires that the executive not engage in acts of self-dealing that unfairly diminish the value of the non-executive interest. Here, Plaintiff sued the executive, alleging that, as holder of the executive rights to certain mineral interests, the executive breached the duty of utmost good faith and fair dealing by refusing to enter a lease. The trial court rendered judgment for Plaintiffs. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs met their burden to show that the executive engaged in acts of self-dealing that unfairly diminished the value of Plaintiffs' non-executive interest. View "Texas Outfitters Limited, LLC v. Nicholson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's summary judgment concluding that Plaintiff's civil conspiracy claims were barred by limitations, holding that Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 16.003 does not universally apply to civil conspiracy claims. In affirming the summary judgment, the court of appeals followed its own precedent and applied section 16.003, the two-year statute generally applicable to torts, including trespass. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the applicable statute of limitations for civil conspiracy must coincide with that of the underlying tort for which the plaintiff seeks to hold at least one of the named defendants liable; and (2) at least one of the underlying torts asserted as the basis for the conspiracy claims in this case may not be barred by its applicable statute of limitations. View "Agar Corp., Inc. v. Electro Circuits International, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals that the parol evidence rule barred evidence and enforcement of an agreement through which Plaintiff claims to have satisfied his debt to Defendant, holding that the parol evidence rule did not preclude enforcement of the agreement, and therefore, Plaintiff met his burden to establish a prima facie case for the falsity of Defendant's liens. Plaintiff brought this action claiming that after he fully satisfied his debt to Defendant, Defendant filed fraudulent liens and knowingly and intentionally slandered Plaintiff's title to mineral interests that secured that debt. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the claims, arguing that Plaintiff could not establish prima facie support for his slander-of-title and fraudulent-lien claims because the parol evidence rule applied and precluded Plaintiff from establishing any enforceable agreement that satisfied his debt. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the parol evidence rule did not preclude enforcement of the agreement through which Plaintiff claimed to have satisfied his debt to Defendant, and that Plaintiff thus met his burden to establish a prima facie case for the falsity of Defendant's liens. View "West v. Quintanilla" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissing a judicial-review claim that had been filed after the forty-five-day deadline to seek judicial review of a decision by a Division of Workers' Compensation appeals panel, holding that while the forty-five-day deadline is mandatory, it is not jurisdictional. Plaintiff sought workers' compensation benefits from Defendant, which disputed the claim. Plaintiff then initiated administrative proceedings. A hearing office found against Plaintiff, and Plaintiff appealed to an appeals panel. While the administrative proceedings were pending, Plaintiff filed a wrongful-death suit and then amended her probate-court pleadings, seeking judicial review of the administrative decision. Defendant successfully filed a plea to the jurisdiction. Plaintiff then filed suit against Defendant in district court seeking judicial review of the appeals panel decision. The district court granted Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed Plaintiff's claims. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the forty-five-day deadline for filing judicial review claims is not a jurisdictional statutory prerequisite, and therefore, the trial court erred in granting Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's failure to file suit before the forty-five-day deadline did not deprive the district court of jurisdiction. View "Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Chicas" on Justia Law

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In this case involving a contract to purchase a business-management software system, the Supreme Court held that contractual disclaimers barred Buyer from recovering in tort for misrepresentations Seller made both to induce Buyer to enter into the contract and to induce Buyer later to agree to amend the contract but that Seller’s breach of contract caused Buyer to suffer damages. Buyer sued Seller for, inter alia, common law fraud, fraudulent inducement, and breach of contract. The jury found Seller liable on all claims. The jury awarded damages for fraudulent inducement and common law fraud but awarded zero damages for breach of contract. The court of appeals affirmed liability for fraudulent inducement but reversed the fraud award, concluding that the claim was based on the same misrepresentations as the fraudulent-inducement claim. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Buyer could not recover from recover for fraudulent inducement or common law fraud because Buyer expressly disclaimed any reliance on Seller’s misrepresentations; and (2) Buyer was entitled to a new trial on its claim for breach of contract because the evidence conclusively established that Buyer suffered some amount of damages as a result of Seller’s breach. View "International Business Machines Corp. v. Lufkin Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s suit against Nueces County, holding that governmental immunity barred the suit. Plaintiff served as an assistant district attorney in Neuces County for two years. After he was fired, Plaintiff sued the County, the district attorney’s office, and the then-district attorney (collectively, the County), alleging wrongful termination and seeking actual damages and exemplary damages. The trial court dismissed the case on the ground that governmental immunity barred Plaintiff’s claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither Sabine Pilot Service, Inc. v. Hauck, 687 S.W.2d 733 (Tex. 1985), nor the Michael Morton Act waived the County’s governmental immunity from Plaintiff’s claim. View "Hillman v. Nueces County, Texas" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal from an order denying a city’s plea to the jurisdiction and alternative motion for summary judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment sustaining the city’s jurisdictional plea, holding that Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code 271.152, which waives a city’s immunity from suit on certain contracts, did not apply to the underlying claims. Section 271.152 provides that a governmental entity that is authorized to contract and that enters into a contract waives its immunity to suit for purposes of adjudicating a claim under the contract. In the instant case, Plaintiffs, employees of the City of Denton, sued the City for breach of contract, alleging that the City’s policies and procedures manual (the policy) constituted a unilateral contract that the City breached. The trial court denied the City’s jurisdictional plea. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that the policy created a unilateral contract that certain employees could enforce under the statutory waiver. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the policy did not create an enforceable, written contract, a requirement for governmental to be waived under section 271.152. View "City of Denton v. Rushing" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts