Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The employer under the circumstances of this case had no duty to control its employees. J.R.and Carlos worked as cashiers at a convenience store owned by Exxon Mobile Corporation. One evening, Carlos picked a fistfight with J.R. When Alfredo, J.R.’s father, entered to the store to pick up J.R., Carlos also started a fistfight with Alfredo. Alfredo was knocked down and complained he couldn’t breathe. Twenty-three days later he died from cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory failure, and renal failure. J.R. and his family (Plaintiffs) sued Exxon for wrongful death and survival damages. The jury found that Exxon’s negligent supervision of its employees, together with J.R. and Alfredo’s negligence, caused Alfredo’s death. The jury awarded Plaintiffs nearly $2 million in damages. The court of appeals remanded the case for a new trial. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment for Exxon, holding that an employer in a situation like the one presented in this case owes no duty to supervise its employees, and therefore, as a matter of law, Exxon was not liable to Plaintiffs. View "Pagayon v. Exxon Mobil Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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This action stemmed from a “without cause” termination of Plaintiff’s five-year employment contract at the end of his third contract year. Plaintiff brought claims against his former employer, its chief executive officer, and its professional services company for, inter alia, breach of contract and tortious interference with contract. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the claims for breach of contract and tortious interference. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment in favor of Defendants, holding (1) the employer was entitled to summary judgment on the breach of contract claim where the employer was not required to prove the reasons it terminated Plaintiff’s employment contract “without cause” an the relevant provisions of the contract were not ambiguous; (2) Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the tortious interference claim where Plaintiff presented no evidence of willful or intentional interference; and (3) the employer’s professional services company was entitled to Plaintiff’s tortious interference claim where it conclusively established its justification defense to the claim. View "Community Health Systems Professional Services Corp. v. Hansen" on Justia Law

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Darin Spassoff and 6 Tool, LLC, formerly known as Dallas Dodgers Baseball Club, LLC (the Dodgers), sued Stephen Bedford for libel and business disparagement, among other claims. The claims arose from Bedford’s act of posting on Facebook allegations that his wife had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with the Dodgers’ batting coach. Bedford moved to dismiss all claims under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, asserting that Plaintiffs brought the claims to prevent him from engaging in constitutionally-protected activities. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed the judgment in regards to all claims but Plaintiffs’ libel claim, concluding that Plaintiffs established a prima facie case for each essential element of their libel claim. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment as to the libel claim, holding that Bedford’s statements were not defamatory per se, and the Dodgers did not establish damages by clear and specific evidence. View "Bedford v. Spassoff" on Justia Law

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The court of appeals misapplied the rule that, at trial, a presumption operates to establish a fact until rebutted but not in summary judgment proceedings. Petitioner sued Respondents (the Railway) for the wrongful death of her husband and minor son. Several family members joined in the action, and all the plaintiffs (collectively, Chavez) were represented by the same law firm. After a trial, a verdict was rendered for the defense, but the trial court granted Chavez’s motion for new trial. Counsel for both sides reached a letter settlement agreement. Chavez then fired the firm that had been represented her. The trial court rendered judgment on the settlement agreement. The Railway then filed the settlement agreement and sued for breach. Chavez asserted that she had not consented to the settlement. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Railway. The court of appeals affirmed because the record established that the settlement agreement was signed by one of her lawyers. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Railway did not meet its burden of establishing affirmatively that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Chavez’s law firm was authorized to execute the settlement agreement. View "Chavez v. Kansas City Southern Railway Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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While the Supreme Court was asked in this case to recognize tortious interference with an inheritance as a viable cause of action in Texas, the court was not persuaded to consider it because Petitioners and cross-respondents, the Kinsels, had an adequate remedy in this case. In this case involving the sale of a ranch, the Kinsels sought damages for tortious interference with their inheritances, statutory and common-law fraud, and conspiracy. The jury found for the Kinsels on every claim. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s award of damages for tortious interference with an inheritance on the basis that neither the Texas legislature nor the Supreme Court has recognized that cause of action. On appeal, the Kinsels urged the Supreme Court to recognize tortious interference with an inheritance as a cause of action and uphold their recovery. The Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that the facts of this case did not warrant an enlargement of this state’s body of tort law, as the law provided an adequate remedy in this case - a constructive trust imposed on the disputed inheritance. View "Kinsel v. Lindsey" on Justia Law

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When Respondent’s employer received a report that Respondent failed an employment-related drug test, the employer ceased assigning Respondent any work. Respondent filed this lawsuit against his employer, WHM Custom Services, Inc.; the owner of the refinery, Exxon Mobil; and the drug-testing administrator, DISA, Inc. , asserting various claims against each of the three defendants. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all but one claim, which it dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed and reinstated three of Respondent’s claims against Exxon, four claims against WHM, and two claims against DISA. The Supreme Court reversed in part, vacated in part, and rendered judgment reinstating the trial court’s take-nothing judgment against Respondent, holding that the trial court correctly granted summary judgment for Exxon, WHM, and DISA. View "Exxon Mobile Corp. v. Rincones" on Justia Law

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Respondent was a party to an oil and gas lease that restricted its use of the surface estate and required it to drill from off-site locations when feasible. Briscoe Ranch, Inc. owed an adjacent surface estate and agreed that Respondent could use horizontal drilling to drill from the surface of the Ranch in order to produce minerals from Respondent’s lease. The lessee of the minerals underlying the Ranch (Petitioner) was not a party to the agreement and sought to enjoin Respondent from drilling on the Ranch and asserted claims for both trespass and tortious interference with a contract. Petitioner claimed that its consent was necessary before Respondent could drill through the Ranch’s subsurface covered by its mineral lease. The district court dismissed the claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the loss of minerals Petitioner will suffer by a well being drilled through its mineral estate is not a sufficient injury to support a claim for trespass; and (2) Respondent’s drilling plans did not tortiously interfere with Petitioner’s contractual lease rights. View "Lightning Oil Co. v. Anadarko E&P Onshore, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, energy companies, owned four natural gas compressor stations and a metering station outside the town of Dish. In 2011, the town and eighteen of its residents sued the energy companies, alleging trespass and nuisance energies. However, as early as 2006, residents first complained about the noise and odor emanating from these facilities. The trial court entered summary judgment for the energy companies on various grounds, including limitations. The court of appeals reversed the trial court on limitations. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and reinstated the trial court’s take-nothing judgment, holding that the two-year statute of limitations barred the residents’ claims. View "Town of Dish v. Atmos Energy Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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At issue was whether a private university that operates a state-authorized police department is a “governmental unit” for purposes of Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 51.014(a)(8), which provides for an interlocutory appeal from an order that “grants or denies a plea to the jurisdiction by a governmental unit.” The private university in this case was the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), and the case arose from an UIW officer’s use of deadly force following a traffic stop. The parents of the UIW student killed in the incident sued UIW for their son’s death. UIW raised governmental immunity as a defense and asked the trial court to dismiss the suit in a plea to the jurisdiction. The trial court denied the plea. UIW took an interlocutory appeal under section 51.014(a)(8). The court of appeals dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that UIW is a governmental unit for purposes of law enforcement and is therefore entitled to pursue an interlocutory appeal under section 51.014(a)(8). View "University of the Incarnate Word v. Redus" on Justia Law

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Laura Murphy, who at the relevant period worked as an independent practitioner under contract with West Texas OB Anesthesia, filed claims against El Paso Healthcare System, d/b/a Las Palmas Medical Center, for statutory retaliation and tortious interference with the continuation of the business relationship between Murphy and West Texas OB. The trial court entered judgment on the jury’s verdict, which found El Paso Healthcare liable on both causes of action and awarded $631,000 in damages. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment that Murphy take nothing on her claims, holding that Murphy failed to establish that El Paso Healthcare illegally retaliated against her or interfered with her legal rights under her existing agreement with West Texas OB. View "El Paso Healthcare System, Ltd. v. Murphy" on Justia Law