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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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Company 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 Company had been investigating the possibility of buying leases. A jury found that the directors breached their fiduciary duties to Company in two ways. The trial court awarded a constructive trust to Company on most of the leases in question and also required the disgorgement of money derived from past lease production revenues. The court of appeals reversed, concluding (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that the directors breached their fiduciary duties by usurping a corporate opportunity; and (2) the pleadings were insufficient to support a claim for breach of fiduciary duty by undisclosed competition with Company. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the constructive trust award was erroneous; and (2) there was no basis for the trial court to render judgment in favor of Company for money. View "Longview Energy Co. v. Huff Energy Fund, LP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss based on the sufficiency of a certificate of merit supplied by Plaintiff. Plaintiff, a water supply corporation, contracted with Defendant to provide engineering design and project supervision services for a new water treatment plant. After the project was substantially completed, Plaintiff sued Defendant and others involved in the contract, attributing poor water quality issues to the plant’s design and construction. To comply with the certificate-of-merit statute, Plaintiff filed the affidavit of a licensed professional with its original petition. In this interlocutory appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in not dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint because the certificate of merit’s author was unqualified and the affidavit failed to provide the factual basis required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 150.002. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "Melden & Hunt, Inc. v. East Rio Hondo Water Supply Corp." on Justia Law

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An expert report required by the Texas Medical Liability Act must address proximate cause. Plaintiff brought this health care liability claim against Hospital and others for the death of Yolanda Iris Flores. To satisfy the Act’s expert-report requirement, Plaintiff served two reports. Hospital argued that the expert reports did not adequately show causation. The trial court overruled the objection and denied Hospital’s motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that an expert report is not required to address proximate cause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s expert reports did not show how Hospital caused Flores’s death, and therefore, the court of appeals’ judgment must be reversed and the cause remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Columbia Valley Healthcare System, L.P. v. Zamarripa" on Justia Law

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A party’s attorney-billing information is normally not 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. Several lawsuits brought by insured homeowners against various insurers and claims adjustors alleging underpayment of insured property-damage claims were consolidated into a single multidistrict litigation (MDL) for pretrial proceedings, including discovery. In this discovery dispute, individual homeowners sought attorney fees incurred in prosecuting their claims. The homeowners sought discovery regarding the insurer’s attorney-billing information. The insurer argued that the requested discovery was overly broad and sought information that was both irrelevant and protected by the attorney-client and work-product privileges. The MDL pretrial court ordered the insurer to respond to the discovery requests. The court of appeals denied the insurer’s petition for mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief and directed the trial court to vacate its discovery order, holding that, absent unusual circumstances, information about an opposing party’s attorney fees and expenses is privileged or irrelevant and, thus, not discoverable. View "In re National Lloyds Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In dispute in this case were 1991 deeds purporting to pass title of all the grantors’ mineral interests in Harrison County to Petitioners. In 2011, the grantors deed to Respondent the same interests they had conveyed to Petitioners. Respondent then sued Petitioners to quiet title to mineral interests, asserting that the property descriptions and general granting clause in the 1991 deeds were insufficient to satisfy the Statue of Frauds because the property conveyed was not identified with reasonable certainty. The trial court granted summary judgment for Petitioners on the title issue and rendered a take-nothing judgment against Respondent. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the general granting clause was ambiguous. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment that Respondent take nothing, holding that the general grants in the 1991 deeds were valid and unambiguous, conveying title of the grantors’ Harrison County mineral interests to Petitioners. View "Davis v. Mueller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court took the opportunity in these consolidated mandamus proceedings to provide further clarity regarding electronically stored information (ESI) discovery. In this dispute, the requesting party sought ESI in native form while the responding party offered to produce the ESI in searchable static form, which the responding party asserted was more accessible and convenient given its routine business practices. The trial court ordered production in native form subject to a showing of infeasibility. The court of appeals denied mandamus relief. The Supreme Court denied the petitions for mandamus relief without prejudice, offering the responding party an opportunity to once again object to the discovery in light of this opinion, holding that evidence that a reasonably usable alternative form of ESI is readily available gives rise to the need for balancing, and if the factors outlined in this opinion preponderate against production in the requested form, the trial court may order production as requested under certain circumstances, but otherwise the responding party need only produce the data reasonably available in the ordinary course of business in reasonably usable form. View "In re State Farm Lloyds" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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A jury awarded Plaintiff future lost profits based on Defendants’ failure to comply with their covenants not to compete and covenants not to solicit. The jury also awarded Plaintiff exemplary damages and attorney fees. The trial court awarded Plaintiff the full amount of damages. The court of appeals reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment in part and remanded in part, concluding, inter alia, that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the jury’s award of future lost profits and that the exemplary damages award was unconstitutionally excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the court of appeals did not err in concluding that the evidence of future lost profits was legally insufficient; (2) the court of appeals’ remitted exemplary damages award was unconstitutionally excessive; and (3) the court of appeals properly found that remand of the issue of attorney’s fees was proper. The court remanded the case to the court of appeals so that it may reconsider its suggested remittitur of exemplary damages. View "Horizon Health Corp. v. Acadia Healthcare Co." 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