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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the district court's judgment affirming the negative use determinations issued by the Commission on Environmental Quality as to Respondents' applications for tax exemptions for heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), holding that Texas Tax Code 11.31 does not give the Commission and its Executive Director discretion to deny an ad valorem tax exemption for HRSGs. In Brazos Electric Power Cooperative v. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), also issued today, the Supreme Court held that the Legislature has deemed HRSGs to qualify at least in part as "pollution control property" entitled to an exemption. The Court further held in Brazos Electric that the Commission abused its discretion by issuing negative use determinations for two exemption applications involving HRSGs when the applications complied with relevant statutory requirements. In the instant case, the Commission issued negative use determinations for Petitioners' applications for tax exemptions for HRSGs. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly held that the Commission may not issue negative use determinations for HRSGs. View "Texas Commission on Environmental Quality v. Brazos Valley Energy, LLC" 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 affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court concluding that Petitioner, who represented a putative class of citizens seeking to strike down state statutes and a city's ordinance authorizing use of red-light cameras as a traffic-enforcement tool, was not required to seek an administrative remedy before filing his case in district court, holding that Petitioner lacked standing to bring one of his claims, that governmental immunity applied to another claim, and that Petitioner was required to seek administrative relief before filing a takings claim in district court. In reversing, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court had no jurisdiction over Petitioner's claims because Petitioner had failed to seek administrative relief. The Supreme Court affirmed but for different reasons, holding (1) Petitioner lacked standing to bring his prospective claims for declaratory and injunctive relief; (2) governmental immunity barred Petitioner's reimbursement claim; (3) Petitioner was required to exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing his constitutional takings claim in district court; and (4) an amended pleading would not cure the defects in Petitioner's claims. View "Garcia v. City of Willis" on Justia Law

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In this termination of parental rights case the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Mother's jury demand in a de novo hearing under Tex. Family Code 201.015 after Mother waived her right to a jury trial before the associate judge, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The trial court referred this case to an associate judge for adjudication on the merits, and the parties waived the right to a jury trial. Following a bench trial, the associate judge terminated Mother's parental rights. Mother then demanded a jury trial and requested a de novo hearing on the issue of evidence sufficiency. The referring judge denied the jury request and set a de novo hearing. The court then terminated Mother's parental rights. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 201.015 permits, but does not require, the referring court to grant a jury trial demand made for the first time at the de novo hearing stage; and (2) under the circumstances of this case, the trial court was not obligated to grant Mother's jury demand. View "In re A.L.M.-F." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over Petitioner's appeal because she did not seek rehearing of an ALJ's ruling and that the agency in this case did not deprive Petitioner of due process, holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction but that the agency violated Petitioner's right to due process. An ALJ sustained the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' determination that Petitioner's name be submitted to the Employee Misconduct Registry unless she timely petitioned for judicial review. In its letter, the Health and Human Services Commission failed to explain that filing a motion for rehearing was a prerequisite for judicial review. The trial court overruled the agencies' plea to the jurisdiction but ruled for them on the merits of Petitioner's appeal. The court of appeals reversed the trial court's judgment on the jurisdictional plea and rendered judgment that Petitioner's failure to seek rehearing deprived the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider Petitioner's case; but (2) the agencies deprived Petitioner of her right to judicial review by misrepresenting the proper procedures to seek judicial review of the adverse order. View "Mosley v. Texas Health & Human Services Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court concluding that an owner who tendered substantially all of the money required by Tex. Tax Code 34.21 could redeem real property purchased at a tax sale after the purchaser's deed was recorded, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the owner substantially complied with the requirements of section 34.21(e). The owner of the property in this case was the Estate of Benjamin Hardy Carlton, III. The property was sold at a sheriff's sale to enforce a judgment obtained from several taxing authorities. Plaintiff successfully bid for it, and Plaintiff then recorded his deed. Before its deadline to redeem the home the Estate paid eighty-eight percent of the total due. The Estate then sued Plaintiff seeking a declaration of redemption. The trial court concluded that the estate had effectively exercised the right of redemption by making substantial compliance and tendering full compensation within the redemption period. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the Estate's tender satisfied the statute. View "Sorrell v. Estate of Carlton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, under David v. Inwood North Professional Group-Phase I, 747 S.W.2d 373 (Tex. 1988), a tenant can terminate a commercial lease contract for the landlord's prior material breach and that the evidence offered to prove attorney's fees in this case was insufficient for fee-shifting awards. After terminating its lease early and vacating the premises while still owing unpaid rent a commercial tenant (Tenant) sued Landlord for breach of contract and breach of the implied warranty of suitability and also sought a declaratory judgment. The jury found that Landlord materially breached the lease agreement first, Landlord breached the implied warranty of suitability, and Tenant had the right to terminate the lease agreement. The trial court awarded Tenant attorney's fees. The court of appeals affirmed. After explaining the prevailing party's evidentiary burden and the standard for shifting reasonable and necessary attorney's fees to the non-prevailing party, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment as to the attorney's fee award but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) a commercial tenant can terminate a commercial lease based on the landlord's prior material breach; but (2) the evidence used to prove attorney's fees was not legally sufficient to support the fee award. View "Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney's fees consistent with the Court's decision in Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), also decided today, holding that, having clarified the law governing the award of attorney's fees, remand was necessary. Plaintiff brought a suit against Defendant for unpaid legal fees. The jury awarded the amount sought to Plaintiff. Plaintiff also sought attorney's fees pursuant to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 38.001. After hearing expert testimony about the reasonableness and necessity of the attorney's fees, the jury awarded attorney's fees. Defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the fee award. The trial court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney's fees consistent with its decision in Rohrmoos Venture. View "Barnett v. Schiro" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice, holding that dismissal of the lawsuit was required because this falsified-medical-records claim was a health care liability claim subject to the expert-report requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(a). Plaintiff sued two individuals and a hospital alleging that he was indicted for aggravated assault only because the medical record of the victim of the assault had been falsified. The hospital invoked the civil-liability limitations in Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, which requires the claimant to serve an adequate expert report within 120 days after the defendant's original answer has been filed. When Plaintiff did not subsequently serve an expert report, the trial court granted the hospital's motion to dismiss. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that claims involving alteration and fabrication of medical records are not healthcare liability claims and therefore do not trigger the expert report requirement of section 74.351. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff's action was a health care liability claim, and Plaintiff's failure to timely serve an expert report necessitated dismissal with prejudice. View "Scott v. Weems" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that sovereign immunity barred Plaintiff's claim against the State brought after a cargo van owned by the State rolled backwards into a grounded helicopter owned by Plaintiff, holding that portions of the claim should have been allowed to proceed. The van in this case was owned by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, an agency of the State. Plaintiff sued the Department, alleging that the Department breached its duty to act with ordinary care in maintaining and operating the van. The Department filed a combined plea to the jurisdiction and motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied the plea and motion. The court of appeals reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment, concluding that sovereign immunity protected the Department from Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in rejecting Plaintiff's claims related to a Department employee's allegedly negligent failure to apply the parking brake so the van would not roll away. View "PHI, Inc. v. Texas Juvenile Justice Department" on Justia Law