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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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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals holding that a cause of action for acknowledgment of a debt must be “specifically and clearly” pleaded “in plain and emphatic terms” because this holding conflicts with Tex. R. Civ. P. 47(a), which provides that a pleading is “sufficient” if it gives “fair noice of the claim involved.” A Trust sued Defendants seeking payment on a debt. Defendants moved for summary judgment arguing that the Trust’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations because the Trust had not properly pleaded acknowledgment. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that while the Trust had raised acknowledgment in response to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, it had failed to plead acknowledgement as a cause of action because it had not done so “specifically and clearly” and in “plain and emphatic terms.” The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the Trust provided fair notice to Defendants of its claim on their acknowledgment and thus satisfied Rule 47, and the court of appeals erred in requiring a higher standard. View "DeRoeck v. DHM Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts

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At issue in this mandamus proceeding was whether the proportionate-responsbility scheme in Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code applies to a civil-remedy action under the Texas Medical Fraud Prevention Act (TMFPA). The State sued Xerox Corporation and Xerox State HealthCare, LLC (collectively, Xerox), which administered the Texas Medicaid program, for a civil remedy under the TMFPA. Xerox sought to unite the TMFPA proceedings for purposes of shifting liability to the service providers sued by the State who had directly received disputed Medicaid payments. The trial court granted the State’s motion to strike Xerox’s third-party petition seeking contribution under Chapter 33, holding Chapter 33 inapplicable to the TMFPA action. The court also denied Xerox’s motion to designate responsible third parties under Chapter 33. The Supreme Court denied Xerox’s petition for writ of mandamus, holding that Chapter 33 does not apply to a TMFPA action because (1) the statutory remedy does not constitute “damages” subject to apportionment under Chapter 33; and (2) an irreconcilable conflict exists between the proportionate-responsibility statute and the TMFPA’s mitigation and fault-allocation scheme. View "In re Xerox Corp." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act (Act) preempts, and thus invalidates, a local antilitter ordinance prohibiting merchants from providing “single use” plastic and paper bags to customers for point-of-sale purchases. The trial court upheld the ordinance, which makes it unlawful for any “commercial establishment” to provide or sell certain plastic or paper “checkout bags” to customers. Specifically, the court ruled that the ordinance was not void because reasonable constructions existed under which both the Act and the ordinance could be effective. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the ordinance was preempted by the Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the ordinance regulated solid waste containers within the Act’s meaning and that the ordinance was not “authorized by state law"; and (2) therefore, the Act preempted the ordinance. View "City of Laredo, Texas v. Laredo Merchants Ass’n" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court held that sovereign immunity barred the counterclaims filed by Defendants against the State and that it lacked interlocutory jurisdiction to address the trial court’s dismissal of the Defendants’ third-party claims. The State brought this enforcement action under the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act, alleging that Defendants - several dentists and their professional associations and employees - fraudulently obtained Medicaid payments for providing dental and orthodontic treatments to children. Defendants asserted counterclaims and third-party claims alleging that the State and its contractor mismanaged the payment-approval process and misled Defendants regarding the requirements imposed by the Texas Medical Program. The trial court granted the State’s plea to the jurisdiction against the counterclaims and motion to dismiss the third-party claims. Defendants filed this interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order dismissing Defendants’ counterclaims and concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over the order dismissing the third-party claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) sovereign immunity barred the counterclaims, and (2) this Court lacked interlocutory jurisdiction to address the order dismissing the third-party claims. View "Nazari v. State" 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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Jefferson County v. Jefferson County Constables Ass’n, __ S.W.3d __, __ (Tex. 2018), in which the Supreme Court held that the Fire and Police Employee Relations Act applies to deputy constables because they qualify as “police officers” under the Act’s definition of that term, resolved the issue presented in this case and necessitated reversal of the court of appeals’ judgment. Petitioner was terminated from his employment as a deputy constable in Jefferson County and sued for a declaratory judgment and a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the County to participate in a binding arbitration under the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement between the County and its deputy constables’ bargaining association. The trial court granted Petitioner’s requests and ordered the parties to participate in binding arbitration. The court of appeals dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction, holding that deputy constables are not “police officers” under the Act and have no right to bargain collectively with their public employers. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that this issue was definitively resolved against the County in Jefferson County. View "Stines v. Jefferson County, Texas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that Grandparents lacked standing to pursue a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) under Tex. Fam. Code 102.003(a)(9). Section 102.003(a)(9) confers standing to pursue a SAPCR on nonparents who have had “actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months.” The child at issue in this case lived in Grandparents’ home for the first twenty-three months of her life. During the last eight of those months, Grandparents were the child’s primary caretakers and providers. Grandparents filed a petition to modify a SAPCR order requesting conservatorship of the child. The trial court dismissed the petition, determining that Grandparents did not establish that they had “actual care” or “actual control” over the child for the six-month period preceding their petition filing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Grandparents, having continuously engaged in a parent-like role on a day-to-day basis during the statutory time period, had standing to pursue a SAPCR under section 102.003(a)(9). View "In re H.S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this medical-malpractice case stemming from the death of Shannon McCoy, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that judgment was properly entered in favor of Plaintiff as to Dr. Debra Gunn’s negligence in this case and that Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates, P.A. (OGA) was vicariously liable for Dr. Gunn’s negligence. The Court further held (1) there was legally sufficient evidence of causation; (2) the trial court erred in excluding deposition testimony of Defendants’ expert witness regarding future medical expenses, but the error was harmless; (3) the medical billing affidavits providing proof of past medical expenses were proper; (4) the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on unavoidable accident; (5) OGA’s indemnity claim against Dr. Gunn was properly asserted post-verdict; and (6) Shannon’s death on the eve of the court of appeals’ decision did not create a windfall for Plaintiff. View "Gunn v. McCoy" 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