Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendants’ motions to dismiss this health care liability action when it read several experts’ reports together to satisfy the requirement of the Texas Medical Liability Act that Plaintiffs serve each defendant with an “adequate” expert report or face dismissal of their claim. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(1). Plaintiff filed health care liability claims against three defendants, alleging that their respective negligence led to her mother’s death. Plaintiff filed four separate expert reports to satisfy the Act’s requirements. Each defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for failure to serve adequate reports. The trial court denied the motions to dismiss. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff’s four reports - even when read together - did not constitute a good-faith effort to show that Plaintiff’s claims had merit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s four expert reports provided enough information for the trial court to conclude that they constituted a good-faith effort. View "Miller v. JSC Lake Highlands Operations, LP" on Justia Law

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If a plaintiff sues both public employees and their employer, section 101.106(e) of the Texas Tort Claims Act requires that the employees be immediately dismissed upon the employer’s motion, and this statutory right to dismissal accrues when the motion is filed and is not impaired by later amendments to the pleadings or motion. Respondent sued a government unit and some of its employees. The Attorney General moved to dismiss all but the tort claims against the employer, arguing that Respondent's contract claim against the employer, a state agency, was barred by sovereign immunity and that the tort claims against the employees were required to be dismissed under section 101.106(e). Thereafter, Respondent amended his petition to drop his tort claims against the employer, leaving the employees as the only tort defendants. The amended petition’s only claim against the employer was for breach of contract. The trial court dismissed Respondent's contract claim against the employer but denied dismissal of his tort claims against the employees. On appeal, the Supreme Court rendered judgment dismissing Respondent's state-law tort claims against the employees, holding that, following Respondent's amended petition, Defendants remained entitled to dismissal of the tort claims asserted against the employees in Respondent's original petition, as requested in Defendants’ original motion to dismiss. View "University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston v. Rios" on Justia Law

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In this tort suit arising from a real estate transaction, the Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief to Relators from an order denying leave to designate Plaintiffs’ legal advisors as responsible third parties. Relators’ motion to designate was filed long after an initial trial date but seventy-six days before a new trial setting. The trial court denied the motion to designate without granting leave to replead. The court of appeals denied mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted Relators’ petition for writ of mandamus, holding that the trial court erred in denying Relators’ motion because it was filed more than sixty days before the trial setting and the court did not afford Relators an opportunity to cure any pleading deficiency. View "In re Coppola" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s denial of a magazine’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s defamation claim under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA). Plaintiff, a private citizen who was the subject of a magazine article about her receipt of food stamps, sued the magazine, alleging that the magazine defamed her when it falsely accused her of committing welfare fraud. The magazine moved to dismiss the suit under the TCPA. The trial court denied the motion as to the defamation claim, granted it as to the other claims asserted by Plaintiff, and denied the magazine’s request for attorney’s fees. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that Plaintiff was entitled to proceed on her defamation claim and that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal of the denial of attorney’s fees. The Supreme Court held (1) the court of appeals improperly relied on Wikipedia as authority in its opinion; (2) the lower courts properly found that dismissal of Plaintiff’s defamation claim under the TCPA was not warranted at this stage in the proceedings; and (3) the trial court erred in failing to award the magazine attorney’s fees in light of its dismissal of other claims. View "D Magazine Partners, L.P. v. Rosenthal" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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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 Petitioner auto dealer, whom Respondent sued for negligent entrustment, and reinstated summary judgment for Petitioner. When Petitioner provided William Heyden a loaner vehicle, Heyden had been drinking. Eighteen days later, when he was legally intoxicated, Heyden drove the loaner vehicle into a truck driven by Respondent. Respondent sued Petitioner for negligent entrustment. Petitioner argued that an accident that occurs eighteen days after entrustment is too attenuated to constitute legal cause. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment for Petitioner. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case, determining that fact issues regarding proximate cause remained. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Petitioner established that its providing Heyden a loaner was not a proximate cause of his injuring Respondent eighteen days later. View "Allways Auto Group, Ltd. v. Walters" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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A defendant may obtain dismissal of a suit under the Texas Citizens Participation Act alleging “a communication made in connection with a matter of public concern” even if the defendant denies making it. Plaintiffs sued Defendant for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), claiming that Defendant exploited the tragedy of their son’s death by encouraging the criticism of their son’s obituary. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ action under the Texas Citizens Participation Act. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that a defendant who denies making the communication alleged cannot invoke the Act. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) when it is clear from a plaintiff’s pleadings that the action is covered by the Act, the defendant need show no more; and (2) the communication in this case was not extreme and outrageous enough to support an action for IIED. View "Hersh v. Tatum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant, the company that constructed a scaffold from which Defendant fell, claiming that Defendant improperly constructed the scaffold and failed to remedy or warn of the dangerous condition on the scaffold. After a second trial, the jury found Defendant negligent and awarded Defendant almost $2 million in past and future damages. Defendant appealed, arguing, in part, that Plaintiff’s claim was improperly submitted under a general negligence theory of recovery. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment in Defendant’s favor, holding Plaintiff’s claim against Defendant sounded in premises liability, and a general negligence submission could not support Plaintiff’s recovery in a premises liability case. View "United Scaffolding, Inc. v. Levine" on Justia Law

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