Justia Texas Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
JCB, Inc. v. Horsburgh & Scott Co.
The Supreme Court accepted two questions of Texas law certified to it from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concerning the damages and attorney's fees available under the Texas Sales Representative Act, chapter 54 of the Business and Commerce Code, Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 54.001-.006. The Court answered (1) the time for determining the existence and amount of "unpaid commission due" under section 54.001(1) is the time of the jury or trial court determines the liability the defendant, whether at trial or through another dispositive trial-court process such as summary judgment; and (2) a plaintiff may recover attorney's fees and costs under section 54.004(2) even if the plaintiff does not receive treble damages if the fact-finder determines that the fees and costs were reasonably incurred under the circumstances. View "JCB, Inc. v. Horsburgh & Scott Co." on Justia Law
Compass Bank v. Calleja-Ahedo
The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff, rather than his Bank, must suffer the financial consequences of the complete draining of Plaintiff’s bank account by an identity theft through a series of fraudulent transactions.At issue was Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 4.406(c), which limits the liability of a bank when the customer fails to comply with his or her duties to examine the statement of account and notify the bank of any unauthorized payment. Rather than monitor his account as contemplated by the statute, for more than a year Plaintiff failed to look for missing bank statements or inquire about the status of his account. The court of appeals rendered judgment for Plaintiff, holding that the Bank neither sent the statements to Plaintiff nor made them available to him, and therefore, his statutory duties to examine the statements and report unauthorized transactions never arose. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Bank made the statements “available” to Plaintiff for purposes of section 4.406; and (2) under the circumstances, section 4.406 precluded Plaintiff’s attempt to hold the Bank liable for the losses. View "Compass Bank v. Calleja-Ahedo" on Justia Law
Lujan v. Navistar, Inc.
A trial court’s authority to distinguish between genuine and non-genuine fact issues includes the authority to apply the so-called “sham affidavit rule” when confronted with evidence that appears to be a sham designed to avoid summary judgment.Under the sham affidavit rule, if a party submits an affidavit that conflicts with the affiant’s prior sworn testimony and does not provide a sufficient explanation for the conflict, a trial court may disregard the affidavit when deciding whether the party has raised a genuine fact issue to avoid summary judgment. In this commercial dispute, the trial court struck an affidavit as a sham under the rule and granted partial summary judgment. A divided panel of the court of appeals affirmed and adopted the sham affidavit doctrine, which had not previously been explicitly recognized by the court of appeals. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ decision as to the partial summary judgment grant, as the trial court properly concluded that the affidavit in question did not raise a genuine fact issue sufficient to survive summary judgment. The Court then remanded to the court of appeals to consider whether any claims remained unresolved. View "Lujan v. Navistar, Inc." on Justia Law
Centerpoint Builders GP, LLC v. Trussway, Ltd.
Centerpoint Builders was hired as the general contractor to build an apartment complex. Centerpoint contracted with a subcontractor to install wooden roof trusses. Centerpoint purchased the trusses directly from Trussway, Ltd., the truss manufacturer. Merced Fernandez, an independent contractor, was rendered paraplegic when a truss broke while he was walking across it. Fernandez sued several entities, including Centerpoint and Trussway, and eventually settled. Centerpoint filed a cross-action against Trussway alleging that Trussway was required to indemnify Centerpoint for any loss arising from Fernandez’s suit. Trussway filed its own indemnity cross claim against Centerpoint. Centerpoint sought partial summary judgment, arguing that it was a seller under Tex. Civil Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. chapter 82 and was thus entitled to indemnity as a matter of law. Chapter 82 entitles the “seller” of a defective product to indemnity from the product manufacturer for certain losses. The trial court concluded that Centerpoint was a seller under chapter 82. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Centerpoint did not fit the statutory definition of a seller and was therefore not eligible to seek indemnity. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Centerpoint, as the general contractor, was not a “seller” entitled to seek indemnity under chapter 82. View "Centerpoint Builders GP, LLC v. Trussway, Ltd." on Justia Law
Petroleum Solutions, Inc. v. Head
Bill Head, doing business as Bill Head Enterprises (Head), hired Petroleum Solutions, Inc. to manufacture and install an underground fuel system at the truck stop Head owned and operated. After a major diesel-fuel leak occurred, Respondents sued Petroleum Solutions for its damages. The trial rendered judgment in favor of Head and in favor of third-party defendant Titeflex, Inc., the alleged manufacturer of a component part incorporated into the fuel system, on Titeflex’s counterclaim against Petroleum Solutions for statutory indemnity. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgment as to Head, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the sanctions of charging the jury with a spoliation instruction and striking Petroleum Solutions’ statute-of-limitations defense, and the trial court’s abuse of discretion was harmful; and (2) affirmed the judgment as to Titeflex’s indemnity claim, holding that Titeflex was entitled to statutory indemnity from Petroleum Solutions. Remanded for further proceedings between Respondents and Petroleum Solutions. View "Petroleum Solutions, Inc. v. Head" on Justia Law
Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc.
Shipper engaged Common Carrier to transport computer equipment belonging to Company. Company claimed the shipment was damaged on arrival, and Common Carrier refused to pay the amount that Company claimed Common Carrier had agreed to settle the claim for. Company asserted a claim against Shipper, whose Insurer paid Company. As subrogee, Insurer sued Common Carrier for breach of the settlement agreement. Insurer avoided removal to federal court by not asserting a cargo-damage claim, but, on remand, amended its petition to assert one. Common Carrier contended the cargo-damage claim was barred by limitations because Insurer filed it more than four years after Common Carrier rejected Company's claim. Insurer argued the cargo-damage claim related back to its original action for breach of the settlement agreement and thus was timely filed. The trial court agreed and rendered judgment against Common Carrier. The court of appeals held the cargo-damage claim did not relate back and was therefore barred by limitations. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment for Insurer, holding that Insurer's cargo-damage claim was not barred by limitations, as the cargo-damage claim and breach-of-settlement claim both arose out of the same occurrence and, therefore, the relation-back doctrine applied. View "Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc." on Justia Law
Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc.
At issue in this case was whether, for purposes of Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 16.068, an action for cargo damage against a common carrier, brought under the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, relates back to an action for breach of an agreement to settle the cargo-damage claim. The answer depended on whether the cargo-damage claim was, in the words of section 16.068, "wholly based on a new, distinct, or different transaction or occurrence" than the breach-of-settlement claim. A divided court of appeals held that the cargo-damage claim did not relate back and was therefore barred by limitations. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment for the plaintiff, holding that the cargo-damage claim and the breach-of-settlement claim both arose out of the same occurrence, and therefore, the cargo-damage claim was not barred by limitations. View "Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc." on Justia Law
1/2 Price Checks Cashed v. United Automobile Ins. Co.
1/2 Price Checks Cashed (Half-Price) brought a suit in a Dallas County justice court asserting breach of contract on the basis of the obligation owed by the drawer of a check under Tex. Bus. & Com. 3.414 and requested attorney's fees. At issue was whether a holder of a dishonored check could recover attorney's fees under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 38.001(8) in an action against a check's drawer under section 3.414. The court held that Half-Price's section 3.414 claim was a suit on a contract to which section 38.001(a) applied and applying section 38.001(8) to the claim did not disrupt Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code's statutory scheme. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment and remanded for a determination of attorney's fees. View "1/2 Price Checks Cashed v. United Automobile Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Italian Cowboy Partners, Ltd. v. Prudential Insurance Co.
The Court was asked to consider whether state law allows a sophisticated party in a commercial transaction, represented by counsel, with full knowledge of all the circumstances, without mistake or duress of any kind, to include in a contract a disclaimer, and later disavow that disclaimer as having been false at the time it was made. Petitioner Italian Cowboy Partners entered into a lease agreement with Respondents to open a new restaurant. Petitioners had been in the restaurant business for twenty-five years. The lease Petitioners signed contained a disclaimer against representations or promises with respect to the leased site. But Petitioners sued claiming Respondents misled them regarding the suitability of the chosen rental space for a new restaurant. The Court held that the lower court erred in granting Petitioners damages and attorneys fees based on its interpretation of the disclaimer in the lease, and remanded the case for an additional hearing.