Two subcontractors employed by Petitioner, a homebuilder, asserted claims on behalf of a class of subcontractors whose pay Petitioner had docked when the subcontractors did not furnish proof of adequate general liability insurance coverage. The parties settled. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Petitioner would issue refunds checks, sending them to existing subcontractors as it would their paychecks or by mailing checks to the last known addresses of former subcontractors. The class representatives agreed, on behalf of the settlement class members, that refund checks not negotiated within ninety days of issuance would be void and that those and other unclaimed funds would be given to The Nature Conservancy as a cy pres award. The trial court approved the settlement and rendered final judgment accordingly. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Texas Unclaimed Property Act prohibited the imposition of a ninety-day deadline for negotiating settlement checks and the cy pres award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Act did not apply in this case and that the judgment approving the settlement agreement was binding on all settlement class members. View "Highland Homes Ltd. v. State" on Justia Law
This suit was filed as a putative class action on behalf of Texas royalty owners alleging that Phillips Petroleum Company underpaid oil and gas royalties. The trial court certified three subclasses of royalty owners. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed as to two of the subclasses but reversed as to the third subclass, which alleged breach of a uniform express royalty provision contained in gas royalty agreements that amended the class members' leases. On remand, Respondent, class representative of the remaining subclass, amended her petition to add a claim for breach of the implied covenant to market. Phillips unsuccessfully filed various motions contending that there was no class claim for breach of the implied covenant to market. The court of appeals dismissed Phillips' interlocutory appeal for lack of jurisdiction and denied Phillips' petition for writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in dismissing the interlocutory appeal for lack of jurisdiction; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the addition of a class claim for breach of the implied covenant to market without requiring Respondent to file an amended motion for class certification or holding a certification hearing. View "Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Yarbrough" on Justia Law
A small group of landowners sought to certify a class composed of all owners of any real property interests in a twelve-mile stretch of land located adjacent to the Canadian River to litigate alleged takings claims against the State. The trial court denied certification, finding that the landowners failed to satisfy two prerequisites required by Tex. R. Civ. P. 42(a) and any one of the three Rule 42(b) requirements. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that certain conflicts identified by the trial court prevented the landowners from satisfying Rule 42(a)(4)'s adequacy-of-representation prerequisite. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court abused its discretion by relying on the conflicts identified in its order denying class certification to establish that the landowners failed to satisfy Rule 42(a)(4)'s adequacy-of-representation prerequisite; and (2) the court of appeals erred when it affirmed the trial court's order on the same grounds. View "Riemer v. State" on Justia Law
This matter arose out of a dispute over whether the City of Dallas paid its firefighters and police officers in accord with a 1979 ordinance adopted pursuant to a voter-approved referendum. Claiming the City had not properly paid them, some firefighters and police officers brought a class action asserting breach of contract claims and seeking a declaratory judgment. For the reasons set out in City of Dallas v. Albert, the court concluded that: (1) the ordinance's adoption by means of referendum did not result in the City's loss of immunity from suit; (2) the City had immunity from suit as to the declaratory judgment action; (3) by non-suiting its counterclaim the City did not reinstate immunity from suit as to the Officers' claims that were pending against the City when it non-suited the counterclaim; and (4) the case must be remanded for the trial court to consider whether the Legislature waived the City's immunity by amending the Local Government Code. View "City of Dallas v. Martin, et al." on Justia Law
Posted in: Class Action, Contracts, Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law, Texas Supreme Court
Appellant, an African-American resident of Texas, sued appellees alleging that their credit-scoring systems employed several undisclosed factors which resulted in disparate impacts for minorities and violated the federal Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. 3601, 3619. At issue, in a certified question, was whether Texas law permitted an insurance company to price insurance by using a credit-score factor that had a racially disparate impact that, were it not for the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. 1012(b), would violate the FHA, absent a legally sufficient nondiscriminatory reason, or would using such a credit-score factor violate Texas Insurance Code ("Code") sections 544.002(a), 559.051, 559.052, or some other provision of Texas law. The court answered the certified question by holding that Texas law did not prohibit an insurer from using race-neutral factors in credit-scoring to price insurance, even if doing so created a racially disparate impact.
Posted in: Civil Rights, Class Action, Constitutional Law, Consumer Law, Insurance Law, Texas Supreme Court