Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that a health care claimant’s expert report was insufficient as to causation with respect to one of her providers and dismissing her claims against that provider, holding that the expert report adequately addressed both causation and the standard of care. The health care claimant in this case sued a health care provider and two of its physicians for negligence. Only the claimant’s claim against the provider for vicarious liability based on the alleged negligence of its employee nurses was at issue in this appeal. The provider filed a motion to dismiss the claimant’s claims challenging the claimant’s expert report. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals reversed and dismissed the claims against the provider. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the report sufficiently identified the applicable standard of care and linked the provider’s nurses’ alleged breaches with the claimant’s injuries. View "Abshire v. Christus Health Southeast Texas" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the district court correctly dismissed the claim that because of negligent training and handling by private military contractors, a dog that protects soldiers and others by sniffing out enemy improvised explosive devices (IEDs) bit Plaintiff on a United States Army base in Afghanistan. Defendant, which contracted with the Department of Defense to provide teams of working dogs and handlers to the Armed Services, claimed in defense that the incident was caused by the Army’s use and prescribed manner of quartering the dog. Defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting that Plaintiff’s claims were nonjusticiable under the political question doctrine because they required an assessment of the Army’s involvement in causing her alleged injuries. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the case. The court of appeals reversed, thus rejecting the application of the political question doctrine. the Supreme Court reversed, holding that this case is nonjusticiable due to the presence of an inextricable political question. View "American K-9 Detection Services, LLC v. Freeman" on Justia Law

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The common law rule against perpetuities does not invalidate a grantee’s future interest in the grantor’s reserved non-participating royalty interest (NPRI). Lorene Koopmann and her two children sought declaratory judgment against Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Company, L.P. and Lois Strieber to construe a warranty deed by which Strieber conveyed fee simple title to a tract of land to Lorene and her late husband. Under the deed, Strieber reserved a fifteen-year, one-half NPRI. The Koopmans claimed that they were the sole owners of an NPRI as of December 27, 2011. They also asserted claims against Burlington, which leased the tract from the Koopmanns, for breach of contract and other claims. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Koopmans as to the declaratory action and granted summary judgment for Burlington on the negligence and negligence per se claims. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court held (1) the rule against perpetuities does not invalidate the Koopmann’s future interest in the NPRI; (2) Tex. Nat. Res. Code 91.402 does not preclude a lessor’s common law claim for breach of contract; and (3) the court of appeals properly entered judgment as to attorney’s fees pursuant to Tex. R. Civ. P. 91a. View "ConocoPhillips Co. v. Koopmann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted a writ of mandamus sought by Melissa Dawson in this pretrial dispute. Dawson sued Defendant for injuries she received at a bar and restaurant. Upon serving Defendant with her original petition, Dawson also propounded a request for disclosures, interrogatories, and requests for production. More than two weeks after limitations expired, Defendant moved for leave to designate Michael Graciano as a responsible party. Dawson opposed the motion for leave on the ground that, under Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a defendant may not designate a responsible third party after limitations has expired if the defendant has failed to comply with its obligations to timely disclose that the person may be designated as a responsible third party. The trial court, however, granted leave. After the court of appeals denied Dawson’s request for mandamus relief, she filed this proceeding. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the writ, holding that Dawson presented adequate grounds for relief by mandamus. View "In re Melissa Dawson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals in this defamation, breach of contract, and fraudulent inducement case. After Defendant, Plaintiff’s employer, offered him an oral deal to “buy in” the business in exchange for managing two automobile dealerships, Plaintiff was falsely accused of taking illegal kickbacks on used-car acquisitions and lost his job. The jury found that Defendant defrauded and defamed Plaintiff but did not find that the parties agreed to a buy-in deal that included interests in the dealerships and their underlying real estate. The jury awarded Plaintiff $2.2 million in defamation damages and $383,150 in fraud damages. The trial court rendered judgment on the jury’s verdict. The court of appeals reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment. The Supreme Court held (1) the jury’s failure to find that the parties agreed to the specific contract terms submitted in the contract question did not preclude Plaintiff from recovering the value of the disputed dealership interests as benefit-of-the-bargain damages under a fraud theory that required proof of an enforceable contract; and (2) legally sufficient evidence supported the damages awarded for loss of reputation and mental anguish in the past, but no evidence supported the existence of future damages or a finding that the kickback allegations caused any lost-income damages. View "Anderson v. Durant" on Justia Law

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There is no cause of action in Texas for intentional interference with an inheritance. Richard Archer and Richard’s six children (the Archers) brought this action against Ted Anderson’s estate for intentional interference with their inheritance, alleging that Anderson influenced Jack Archer to disinherit them. The jury found in favor of the Archers. On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the Supreme Court has never recognized tortious interference with inheritance as a cause of action in Texas and deferred to the Supreme Court to decide whether to do so. The court then reversed and rendered judgment for Anderson. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tort of interference with inheritance is not recognized in Texas. View "Archer v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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Because the workers’ compensation carrier in this case signed away its right to recover benefits it paid to an injured employee and received a high premium in exchange for assuming that risk it cannot later seek indirectly to recover the same proceeds it agreed not to pursue directly. The carrier her paid benefits to the employee and later sought reimbursement of those payments from any settlement proceeds the employee might receive from a third party. The policy, however, included an endorsement waiving the carrier’s right to recover from a third party sued by the employee. The employee moved for summary judgment declaring that the carrier had waived its right to recover any proceeds from the lawsuit, whether directly from the third party or indirectly from any settlement the third party pays to the employee. The trial court granted summary judgment for the employee, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the waiver foreclosed the carrier’s right to recover from a liable third party, and that waiver included direct recovery from the third party or indirect recovery of the same proceeds after the third party paid them to the employee. View "Wausau Underwriters Insurance Co. v. Wedel" on Justia Law

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The Texas-residency exception that excludes certain claims from the forum non conveniens doctrine because the claims are prosecuted by a Texas-resident plaintiff or derivative of a Texas decedent applied to some of Plaintiffs’ underlying claims in this case. Venice Alan Cooper was killed while working on his Mahindra tractor at his home in Mississippi. The tractor was sold to the decedent in Mississippi. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s sons and Texas residents, filed a negligence and products liability action in Texas against Mahindra USA, Inc., the tractor’s vendor. Mahindra filed a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when ruling on the motion because the Texas-residency exception to the forum non conveniens doctrine applied to some of Plaintiffs’ underlying claims. View "In re Mahindra, USA Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Grandparents were liable to Father for assisting in their daughter’s (Mother) interference with Father’s possessory rights to his children. Mother employed “egregious and outrageous tactics” to prevent Father from seeing the parties’ two children, including coaching the parties’ young son to falsely accuse his father of sexual abuse. While the abuse allegations were under investigation, Grandparents supported Mother by helping her care for the children. Father sued Grandparents for negligence, defamation, and “aiding and assisting” Mother’s interference with his possessory rights, in violation of Tex. Fam. Code chapter 42. The trial court awarded Father more than $10.5 million in damages. The court of appeals reversed as to the defamation charge and a small portion of the Family Code damages award but otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part and rendered a take-nothing judgment, holding (1) the defamation claims were unsustainable due to lack of pleadings and sufficient causation evidence; and (2) the evidence was legally insufficient to support Grandparents’ liability under chapter 42 and the tort theories alleged. View "Bos v. Smith" on Justia Law

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In this libel-by-implication case, a column written by Steve Blow and published by The Dallas Morning News (collectively, Petitioners) was reasonably capable of meaning that John and Mary Ann Tatum acted deceptively and that the accusation of deception was reasonably capable of defaming the Tatums. But because the accusation was an opinion, the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Petitioners. The Tatum filed suit alleging libel and libel per se against Petitioners alleging that the column at issue defamed them. The trial court granted summary judgment for Petitioners. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the column was “reasonably capable” of defamatory meaning and that the column was not a non-actionable opinion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the column’s accusation of deception was “reasonably capable” of injuring the Tatums’ standing in the community but that Blow’s implicit statement that the Tatum acted deceptively was an opinion and thus not actionable. View "Dallas Morning News, Inc. v. Tatum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury