Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the order of the trial court denying Defendant hospital's plea to the jurisdiction on Plaintiff's complaint alleging personal injury and death proximately cause by a condition or use of tangible personal property, holding that Plaintiffs sufficiently demonstrated both use and proximate cause. At issue was whether Defendant's use of an allegedly improper carrier agent during surgery constitutes negligent use of tangible personal property and, if so, whether sufficient evidence established that this use proximately caused the decedent's death. On appeal to the Supreme Court Defendant argued that because the carrier agent was properly administered during surgery, Plaintiffs complained only of negligent medical judgment, for which immunity was not waived. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction, holding that regardless of the manner in which the property was administered, when, as here, the claim was premised on Defendant's use of property that was improper under the circumstances and caused harm, this was sufficient to establish negligent use under the Texas Tort Claims Act. View "University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center v. McKenzie" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death case arising from the deaths of two motorists whose vehicle struck an unbarricaded dirt mound completely blocking an unlit country road the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the suit for want of jurisdiction, holding that Defendant, the City of Killeen, had actual notice as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 101.101(c) of the Tort Claims Act. The decedents' relatives brought this suit alleging that the dirt mount was a "special defect" on the City's premises. The relative conceded that formal notice under section 101.101(a) was lacking but argued that the City had actual notice under section 101.101(c). The trial court denied the City's plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed and dismissed the case, holding that the evidence was legally insufficient to establish that the City had subjective awareness of its fault in producing or contributing to the decedents' injuries. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the facts conclusively established that the City knew its investigators had concluded that the condition of a road under its putative jurisdiction contributed to the deaths of two motorists, and therefore, the City had actual notice of a claim within the meaning of section 101.101(c). View "Worsdale v. City of Killeen, Texas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment against Plaintiff on his suit seeking damages for an injury he allegedly sustained during his incarceration in the county jail, holding that Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 42.20 and Tex. Gov't Code 497.096, two statutes that generally protect governmental actors and entities from liability for their own negligence in connection with certain inmate activities, applied to the inmate's claims. Plaintiff filed this suit against Tarrant County alleging that he was injured after a defective chair collapsed during his treatment for diabetes. The trial court granted summary judgment for the County. The appellate court reversed, concluding that the statutes' liability standard of conscious indifference did not apply to at least some of Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statutes applied to Plaintiff's claims to bar the County's liability and that Plaintiff failed to raise a material fact issue under the statutes' heightened liability standard. View "Tarrant County, Texas v. Bonner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this case in which an off-duty law enforcement officer fatally shot a suspect during the course of an attempted arrest outside his primary jurisdiction, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's denial of the officer's motion to dismiss, holding that the action was an "official capacity" suit that must be dismissed under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Plaintiffs sued the officer that killed their son in his individual capacity for wrongful death. The trial court denied the officer's motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that, as a matter of law, the officer could not have been doing his job as a peace officer because a peace officer operating extraterritorially would not be obligated to make arrest under the circumstances. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a licensed peace officer acting under the warrantless-arrest provision in Tex. Code Crim. Proc. 14.03(g)(2) is within the general scope of the officer's employment for purposes of Tex. Civ. Proc. & Rem. Code 101.01(f); and (2) the officer in this case was sued in his official capacity and was therefore entitled to be dismissed. View "Garza v. Harrison" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this defamation case, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court that a Newspaper was not entitled to summary judgment, holding that fact issues existed that precluded summary judgment. Specifically, the Court held (1) the court of appeals did not err in finding a fact issue on whether the statements at issue were substantially true; and (2) the court of appeals properly found that the Newspaper did not prove it was entitled to summary judgment on the ground that the editorial at issue in this case was protected opinion. View "Scripps NP Operating, LLC v. Carter" on Justia Law

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In this defamation action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment that the complaint be dismissed under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, holding that Respondents failed to carry their burden to survive dismissal under the Act. Respondents sued The Dallas Morning News and Kevin Krause, a writer, arguing that Petitioners defamed them and their compounding-pharmacy business venture. The News moved to dismiss the claims under the Act. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Respondents satisfied their burden under the Act to defeat the News's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding holding that that Respondents did not meet their burden under the Act to show a prima facie case for defamation, and therefore, the News was entitled to dismissal. View "Dallas Morning News, Inc. v. Hall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment for a property owner on a contractor's employee's negligent hiring claim and rendered judgment for the property owner, holding that chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code applies to a contractor's employee's negligent hiring claim against a property owner. Endeavor Energy Resources hired Big Dog Drilling to drill a well on Endeavor's mineral lease. Angel Cuevas, a Big Dog employee, died while working on Endeavor's well. Angel's survivors (together, Cuevas), sued Endeavor, alleging, among other claims, claims that Endeavor negligently hired, retained, and supervised Big Dog. The trial court granted summary judgment for Endeavor on all of Cuevas's claims. The court of appeals reversed on the negligent hiring claim and otherwise affirmed, holding that chapter 95 did not apply to the negligent hiring claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that chapter 95 applied to the negligent hiring claim. View "Endeavor Energy Resources, LP v. Cuevas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's decision awarding sanctions in favor of Plaintiff in this negligence case, holding that a trial court may not sanction a party who fails to admit negligence during discovery but concedes it at trial. At the beginning of litigation, Plaintiff served Defendant with requests for admissions asking Defendant to concede with negligence and confess he was the sole cause of the accident at issue in this case. Defendant denied those requests. At trial, Defendant conceded ordinary negligence but contested Plaintiff's gross negligence claim. After trial, Plaintiff moved for an award of reasonable expenses and attorney's fees incurred in proving the negligence issues that Defendant ultimately conceded. The trial court awarded sanctions. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court abused its discretion in awarding sanctions; and (2) no evidence supported the jury's finding that Defendant was grossly negligent. View "Medina v. Zuniga" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in part and rendered judgment dismissing all of Plaintiffs' claims against the Tarrant Regional Water District, which constructed and maintained the dam from which Plaintiffs' daughter fell and drowned, holding that section 101.056 of the Tort Claims Act, known as the discretionary function exception, applied in this case, and therefore, governmental immunity barred Plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs' daughter was attempting to walk across a dam when she lost her footing and slipped into the river and drowned. Plaintiffs sued the District. The District filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that Plaintiffs' claims were barred because of section 101.056, which creates an exception to the waivers of immunity otherwise provided by the Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the District's plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed in part but upheld the trial court's denial of the District's plea to the jurisdiction as to Plaintiffs' premise-defect claim based on the scoured or eroded riverbed and the resulting possibility of a "hydraulic boil." The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the District's failure to make the judgments Plaintiffs claim it should have made was the kind of "policy decision[] committed to the other branches of government" that section 101.056 shields from second-guessing. View "Tarrant Regional Water District v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's summary judgment concluding that Plaintiff's civil conspiracy claims were barred by limitations, holding that Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 16.003 does not universally apply to civil conspiracy claims. In affirming the summary judgment, the court of appeals followed its own precedent and applied section 16.003, the two-year statute generally applicable to torts, including trespass. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the applicable statute of limitations for civil conspiracy must coincide with that of the underlying tort for which the plaintiff seeks to hold at least one of the named defendants liable; and (2) at least one of the underlying torts asserted as the basis for the conspiracy claims in this case may not be barred by its applicable statute of limitations. View "Agar Corp., Inc. v. Electro Circuits International, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury