Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Norma Heredia filed a personal injury claim against Wal-Mart Stores, Texas. The trial court granted Wal-Mart’s motion for no-evidence summary judgment. Heredia then filed a notice of appeal and an affidavit of indigence in the trial court. No challenge to Heredia’s affidavit was filed within the following ten days, but the court of appeals issued a sua sponte order allowing any interested parties to file a challenge to Heredia’s affidavit in the ten days following the date of that order. Three days later, the court reporter filed a challenge to Heredia’s affidavit. Pursuant to the court of appeals’ order, the trial court set a hearing to determine Heredia’s indigence. Heredia filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the writ and directed the court of appeals to vacate its order and to allow Heredia to proceed with her appeal without payment of costs, holding that the procedural rules do not permit any out-of-time challenges, regardless of the reason for delay. View "In re Norma Heredia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the parents of Matthew Sanchez, who died from a drug overdose, filed a wrongful death suit against the City of Dallas, alleging that a condition of the City’s telephone system proximately caused their son’s death by preventing him from receiving potentially life-saving medical care. The City filed a Tex. R. Civ. P. 91a motion to dismiss asserting governmental immunity from suit and arguing that the allegations in the complaint did not invoke a waiver of governmental immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the City’s motion to dismiss as to the allegation that the City’s 9-1-1 phone system failed or malfunctioned. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that governmental immunity was not waived under the Tort Claims Act and dismissal was required because the pleadings did not establish that a defect in the 9-1-1 telephone system was a proximate cause of Sanchez’s death. View "City of Dallas v. Sanchez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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A merchant vessel registered in Mexico and sailing with a Mexican crew was ferrying workers, all citizens of Mexico, from a Mexican port to an offshore drilling site when it sank off the coast of Mexico. One worker drowned. The deceased worker’s beneficiaries and ninety-one of the surviving workers sued the operator of the ship, a Mexican entity; the owner of the ship, a Mexican entity; and the operator’s marketing affiliate, a Texas entity created after the incident, for damages in Cameron County, Texas. Defendants moved to dismiss based on forum non conveniens. The trial court denied the motion. Defendants sought mandamus relief from the court of appeals. The court denied relief, ruling that Defendants’ lack of diligence in pursuing relief had prejudiced Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief and directed the trial court to issue an order dismissing the case for forum non conveniens, holding that the factors in Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 71.051(b) predominated in favor of dismissal. View "In re Oceanografia, S.A. de C.V." on Justia Law

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When Plaintiffs were sued, they hired Attorneys to represent them. During trial, the trial judge erred, and the error required a costly appeal to correct. Plaintiffs later sued Attorney for legal malpractice claiming that the court’s error would have been immaterial and a favorable judgment would have been rendered if Attorneys had presented additional evidence and arguments. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Attorneys, concluding that the trial court’s error was the sole cause of Plaintiffs’ injury because the Attorneys pursued a winning strategy and did not contribute to the judicial error. The court of appeals reversed without addressing whether judicial error can constitute a superseding cause that negates proximate cause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, as a matter of law, any unrelated negligence by the trial attorneys was too attenuated from the remedial appellate attorney fees to be a proximate cause of those expenses. View "Stanfield v. Neubaum" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Crosstex North Texas Pipeline, LP asserting that Crosstex had both intentionally and negligently created a nuisance. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that a compressor station built by Crosstex had greatly diminished the value of their ranch and ruined their financial investment, as well as their ability to use and enjoy their land. A jury found that Crosstex had “intentionally and unreasonably” created a nuisance as to Plaintiffs’ ranch, that the nuisance was permanent, and that the nuisance caused the ranch’s fair market value to decline by over $2 million. The trial court rendered judgment on the jury’s verdict. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the evidence was not factually sufficient to support the jury’s finding of a negligently created nuisance. The Supreme Court clarified the law and affirmed, holding holding (1) the term “nuisance” refers to a type of legal injury involving interference with the use and enjoyment of real property but does not describe a cause of action; and (2) a defendant can be liable for intentionally or negligently causing a condition that constitutes a nuisance, and neither claim requires a separate finding that the defendant unreasonably used its property when creating a nuisance. View "Crosstex N. Texas Pipeline, LP v. Gardiner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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After Randall Seger died while working on a hydraulic-lift drilling rig when it suddenly collapsed, his parents obtained a judgment against the drilling company. The drilling company then assigned its rights against the insurers to the parents, and the parents brought a Stowers action against the insurers. See G.A. Stowers Furniture Co. v. Am. Indem. Co. The court held that, because the evidence is legally insufficient to support a jury verdict to the contrary, Randall was a leased-in worker as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiffs' claimed loss was excluded from coverage under the commercial general liability (CGL) policy and the Stowers action fails as a result. The court did not reach the damages issue addressed by the court of appeals. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment, which reversed the trial court's judgment and rendered judgment that plaintiffs take nothing, but on different grounds. View "Seger v. Yorkshire Ins." on Justia Law

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After a burst of gas exploded out of a pipe and caused injury to Johannes Elmgren, a boilermaker for an independent contractor, he and his wife filed suit against Ineos and Jonathan Pavlovsky, an Ineos employee who the Elmgrens alleged was the “furnace maintenance team leader.” The court concluded that Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code applies to all categories of negligence claims, including those based on respondeat superior, but Chapter 95 does not apply to claims against an employee or agent of a property owner; plaintiffs in this case failed to present any evidence to trigger an exception to the protection Chapter 95 provides to Ineos; and thus the court: (1) affirmed the part of the court of appeals’ judgment affirming the trial court’s summary judgment on plaintiffs’ premises-liability claims against Ineos, (2) reversed the part of the court of appeals’ judgment reversing the trial court’s summary judgment on plaintiffs’ negligent-activity and negligent-undertaking claims against Ineos and rendered judgment in favor of Ineos on those claims, and affirmed the part of the court of appeals’ judgment reversing the trial court’s summary judgment on the claims against Pavlovsky and remanding those claims to the trial court. View "Ineos USA, LLC v. Elmgren" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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The Texas Medical Board disciplined Minda Lao Toledo, a physician, for unprofessional conduct and issued a press release regarding the matter. After KBMT Operating Company aired a report of the Board’s action Toledo sued KMBT and three of its employees (collectively, KBMT) for defamation. KBMT filed a motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which allows for the early dismissal of a legal action implicating a defendant’s rights of free speech unless the plaintiff can establish each element of the claim with clear and specific evidence. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that Toledo established a prima facie case of defamation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the truth of a media report of official proceedings of public concern must be measured against the proceedings themselves and not against information outside the proceedings; and (2) in this case, Toledo did not meet her burden of establishing a prima facie case that KBMT’s broadcast was false, and therefore, the Act requires that Toledo’s action be dismissed. View "KBMT Operating Co., LLC v. Toledo" on Justia Law

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While investigating a leak in First Texas Bank’s roof, Chris Carpenter fell, crushing two vertebrae. Carpenter sued the Bank, alleging that its ladder was defective. In response, the Bank argued that it could not be liable for Carpenter’s injuries pursuant to Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code because it did not control Carpenter’s work or know of any defect in its ladder. Chapter 95 limits a property owner’s liability to a contractor who “constructs, repairs, renovates, or modifies an improvement to real property.” The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Carpenter was not a “contractor” under the statute because a contractor must have an “actual” contract to perform specific work for stated compensation. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) in the context of Chapter 95, a contractor is simply someone who works on improvement to real property; but (2) the record in this case did not establish that the Bank had retained Carpenter to perform work covered by the statute at the time he was injured. View "First Texas Bank v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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John Sampson injured his shoulder when he tripped on an improperly secured extension cord at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) campus. Sampson filed a negligence suit alleging that UT waived its sovereign immunity pursuant to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 101.021. UT filed a plea to the jurisdiction, motion to dismiss, and no-evidence motion for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity, all of which the trial court denied. The court of appeals reversed and dismissed Sampson’s claim for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that Sampson alleged a premises defect claim under the Tort Claims Act and failed to present evidence to show that a disputed material fact existed regarding UT’s actual knowledge of an unreasonable risk of harm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Sampson’s claim is properly characterized as a premises defect claim; and (2) Sampson failed to present evidence that UT had actual knowledge of the tripping hazard created by the extension cord. View "Sampson v. Univ. of Texas at Austin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law