Chavez v. Kansas City Southern Railway Co.

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The court of appeals misapplied the rule that, at trial, a presumption operates to establish a fact until rebutted but not in summary judgment proceedings. Petitioner sued Respondents (the Railway) for the wrongful death of her husband and minor son. Several family members joined in the action, and all the plaintiffs (collectively, Chavez) were represented by the same law firm. After a trial, a verdict was rendered for the defense, but the trial court granted Chavez’s motion for new trial. Counsel for both sides reached a letter settlement agreement. Chavez then fired the firm that had been represented her. The trial court rendered judgment on the settlement agreement. The Railway then filed the settlement agreement and sued for breach. Chavez asserted that she had not consented to the settlement. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Railway. The court of appeals affirmed because the record established that the settlement agreement was signed by one of her lawyers. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Railway did not meet its burden of establishing affirmatively that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Chavez’s law firm was authorized to execute the settlement agreement. View "Chavez v. Kansas City Southern Railway Co." on Justia Law