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The Division of Workers’ Compensation has exclusive jurisdiction over statutory and tort claims alleging the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act’s “bona fide offer of employment” process was misused to fabricate grounds for firing a covered employee. Employee sued Employer’s workers’ compensation carrier and its agent (collectively, Accident Fund), alleging retaliation, conspiracy, and tortious interference claims. Specifically, Employee claimed that Accident Fund participated in the bona-fide-employment-offer-process and that his job offers were “bogus,” thus serving as a pretext for terminating him. Accident Fund filed a plea to the jurisdiction, asserting that exclusive jurisdiction lay with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. The trial court denied the plea. Accident Fund filed a petition for mandamus relief, which the court of appeals denied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Division had exclusive jurisdiction over Employee’s claims against Accident Fund; and (2) because Employee did not exhaust administrative remedies through the workers’ compensation administrative process before filing suit, mandamus relief for Accident Fund was appropriate. View "In re Accident Fund General Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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At issue in this workers’ compensation was the meaning of the word “issue” as used in Title 5 of the Labor Code. The trial court ruled that Respondent did not suffer a compensable injury and was therefore not entitled to workers’ compensation. The court also granted the State Office of Risk Management’s (SORM) motion for summary judgment on the ground that Respondent violated a statute by working from home. The court of appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment for SORM and affirmed the denial of Respondent’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that because SORM never presented the statutory-violation ground to the appeals panel at the administrative level, the panel necessarily could not have “decided” that “issue,” and therefore, the Labor Code barred the trial court from exercising jurisdiction over SORM’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the statutory ground SORM argued in its summary judgment motion was an argument supporting resolving in SORM’s favor the issue of whether Respondent was in the course and scope of her employment at the time of her accident, and therefore, SORM was free to raise the statutory argument at any time; and (2) Respondent’s motion for summary judgment was properly denied. View "State Office of Risk Management v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s judgment awarding a constructive trust to Longview Energy Company on certain mineral leases and related property and requiring the disgorgement of money derived from past lease production revenues. Longview sued two of its directors and entities associated with them after discovering that one of the entities had purchased mineral leases in an area where Longview had been investigating the possibility of buying leases. The jury found (1) the directors breached their fiduciary duties to Longview by usurping a corporate opportunity and by competing with the corporation without disclosing the competition, and (2) the entity as issue acquired leases as a result of the breaches. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no evidence tracing the entity’s acquisition of any specific leases to any assumed breaches, and therefore, the trial court erred by imposing the constructive trust on and requiring the transfer of leases and properties to Longview; and (2) there was no evidence to support the trial court’s damages award. View "Longview Energy Co. v. Huff Energy Fund LP" on Justia Law

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At issue in this discovery dispute arising in the context of multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving allegations of underpaid homeowner insurance claims was whether a party’s attorney-billing information is discoverable when the party challenges an opposing party’s attorney-fee request as unreasonable or unnecessary but neither uses its own attorney fees as a comparator nor seeks to recover any portion of its own attorney fees. The MDL pretrial court ordered the insurer in this case to respond to the discovery requests. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief and directed the trial court to vacate its discovery order, holding (1) compelling en masse production of a party’s billing records invades the attorney work-product privilege; (2) the privilege is not waived simply because the party resisting discovery has challenged the opponent’s attorney-fee request; and (3) such information is generally not discoverable. View "In re National Lloyds Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals, which dismissed Petitioners’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Petitioners timely filed their interlocutory appeal. Respondent filed suit against several parties, including Petitioners - municipal development corporations (MDCs) - alleging that negligent construction of a municipal hiking and walking path caused damming, resulting in damage to his property. Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss and plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that Respondent’s claims lacked a jurisdictional basis. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss as to some claims but denied relief as to all other claims. The MDCs subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims for injunctive relief, arguing that Respondent’s claims lacked a jurisdictional basis and evidentiary merit. The trial court denied the motion, and the MDCs appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the MDCs’ appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the MDCs’ hybrid motion for summary judgment was not a mere motion for reconsideration but, rather, a distinct motion that merited an independent twenty-day interlocutory appeal period. View "City of Magnolia 4A Economic Development Corp. v. Smedley" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal from a Title IV-D associate judge’s order modifying conservatorship and child support for three children was whether the Title IV-D associate judge had authority to enter an order modifying conservatorship. The court of appeals reversed the associate judge’s order on the ground that the Title IV-D associate judge had no authority to enter an order modifying conservatorship before recent amendments to the Family Code to expressly grant Title IV-D associate judges such authority. The court of appeals also reversed on the independent ground that the associate judge erred by failing to consider the children’s father’s request to participate in the hearing remotely from prison. The Supreme Court affirmed solely on the independent ground that the associate judge failed to consider Father’s request to participate in the hearing by alternative means. The court, however, disagreed with the court of appeals’ ruling that the Title IV-D associate judge lacked authority to enter the order modifying conservatorship and child support, holding that the former version of the Texas Family Code grants Title IV-D associate judges authority to modify conservatorship when, as here, the modification relates to the establishment, enforcement, or modification of a child-support obligation. View "Office of Attorney General of Texas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family 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 judgments of the court of appeals and trial court concluding that an expert witness affidavit in this legal malpractice case was conclusory regarding causation. Plaintiff sued Defendant attorneys for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the loss of its aircraft. Defendants filed traditional and no-evidence motions for summary judgment, challenging the causation element of the legal malpractice claim and arguing that the breach of fiduciary duty claim was precluded by the anti-fracturing rule. In response to the motions for summary judgment, Plaintiff presented affidavits of two attorneys opining that Defendants’ negligence caused the forfeiture of the aircraft. The trial court ruled that the affidavits would not be considered for summary judgment purposes and granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the two affidavits were conclusory. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that one of the affidavits was not conclusory. View "Starwood Management, LLC v. Swaim" 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 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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Legally sufficient evidence supported the jury’s conclusion in this case that the negligence of a premature infant’s treating neonatologist, more likely than not, proximately caused the infant’s loss of vision. D.B. was born extremely premature. As a result of D.B.’s retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a retinal disorder that afflicts premature infants with low birth weights, D.B. became totally bind in her right eye, and the vision in her left eye was severely impaired. Plaintiffs, D.B.’s parents, sued D.B.’s neonatologist and his professional association, claiming that their negligence caused D.B.’s vision loss. The jury found that Defendants’ negligence caused D.B.’s injuries. The court of appeals reversed and rendered judgment that Plaintiffs take nothing, concluding that they failed to adduce any non-conclusory evidence of causation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that legally sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding that the neonatologist’s negligence in assessing and treating D.B.’s ROP proximately caused her vision impairment. View "Bustamante v. Ponte" on Justia Law