Justia Texas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Consumer Law
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This appeal stemmed from litigation between a homeowner, its insurer, and the company hired to restore the home after a series of storms caused damage to the home. A jury found in the restoration company's favor and the trial court rendered judgment against the homeowner and its insurer, jointly and severally. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment with respect to the homeowner's state Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Tex. Bus. & Com Code 17.50, claim because the homeowner was not a prevailing party and he was not a entitled to an order restoring all amounts paid under the contracts without deducting the value received under those agreements. The court also affirmed the restoration company's charge error complaint. The court reversed the court of appeals' judgment as to the insurer where the insurer received direct consideration for its promise to pay for the dehumidification and the court of appeals erred in concluding otherwise. The court remanded for that court to consider the insurer's remaining arguments, which included challenges to the factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the jury findings. View "Dr. Erwin Cruz v. Andrews Restoration, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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This case arose when Norma Sandoval and her sister, Nora Martinez, jointly filed suit against SCI alleging fraud, deceptive trade practices, and other tort claims arising from their respective interment rights and services contracts for family burial plots at Mont Meta Memorial Park. Martinez's contract allowed the court to appoint an arbitrator, while Sandoval's contract required the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to appoint the arbitrator if the parties could not reach a mutual agreement. The trial judge severed the cases and then appointed an arbitrator for Martinez's case. Over the objection of SCI, the trial court also appointed the same arbitrator to arbitrate Sandoval's case. At issue on appeal was whether SCI allowed a lapse or mechanical breakdown in the contractual process for selection of an arbitrator, thereby validating the trial court's intervention to appoint the arbitrator. The court held that the trial court abused its discretion by appointing an arbitrator instead of following the agreed-upon method of selection outlined in the contract. As a matter of law, the two-month delay in the selection of an arbitrator in this case, by itself, did not establish a lapse or failure of the parties to avail themselves of the contractual selection method. Accordingly, without hearing oral argument, the court conditionally granted SCI's petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its prior order appointing David Calvillo as arbitrator. View "In re Service Corp. Int'l and SCI Texas Funeral Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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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.