Articles Posted in Texas Supreme Court

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At issue in this case was whether the statutory requirement that a plaintiff in any action for damages arising out of the provision of professional services by a licensed or registered professional file a supporting expert affidavit with the complaint applies to a defendant or third-party defendant who files a third-party claim or cross-claim against a licensed or registered professional. In the underlying complaint, the court of appeals concluded that chapter 150 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code does not require third-party plaintiffs or cross-claimants to file a certificate of merit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the certificate-of-merit requirement in chapter 150 does not apply to a defendant or third-party defendant who asserts claims against a licensed or registered professional because they are not the “plaintiff” in such cases. View "Jaster v. Comet II Constr., Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the Texas-resident exception to the forum non conveniens statute, which allows “plaintiffs” who are legal residents of Texas to bring a case in a Texas forum even if forum non conveniens would otherwise favor dismissal. Here an estate was sued in Texas regarding a Mexican decedent’s alleged responsibility for a car accident that occurred in Mexico. The estate in turn filed a third-party claim against Ford Motor Company. Wrongful-death beneficiaries, three of whom were legal residents of Texas, intervened in the lawsuit and also filed claims against Ford. Ford moved to dismiss under forum non conveniens, and the trial court denied the motion. Ford then moved for mandamus relief. The court of appeals denied relief, reasoning that, because at least one of the beneficiaries was a legal resident of Texas, the wrongful-death beneficiaries were “plaintiffs” that could take advantage of the Texas-resident exception to forum non conveniens. The Supreme Court denied mandamus relief, holding that the wrongful-death beneficiaries are distinct plaintiffs that can rely on the Texas-resident exception. View "In re Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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Relators filed suit in Harris County for breach of contract and wrongful foreclosure against a Bank. The parties reached a settlement memorialized in a Rule 11 agreement. The trial court later dismissed all claims but did not incorporate the entire Rule 11 agreement. When the parties disagreed on the terms of the settlement, the Bank foreclosed on the property. Relators then filed suit in Bexar County for wrongful foreclosure. Eleven months after the Harris County lawsuit had been dismissed, Bank filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. Relator responded that the trial court’s plenary power expired thirty days after signing the dismissal order, and therefore, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enforce the Rule 11 agreement. The Harris County subsequently granted the Bank’s motion to enforce the Rule 11 agreement. The Supreme Court conditionally granted Relators’ petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its order granting the Bank’s motion to enforce the settlement agreement, holding that because the trial court’s plenary power had expired, the court lacked jurisdiction to enforce the agreement. View "In re Vaishangi, Inc." on Justia Law

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Mark Fisher and Reece Boudreaux were limited partners of Nighthawk Oilfield Services, Ltd. (“Nighthawk”), which acquired Richey Oilfield Construction, Inc. (“Richey Oil”) from Mike Richey. The business did not go well, and Nighthawk and Richey Oil filed for bankruptcy. Richey sued Fisher and Boudreaux in Wise County where Richey resided, alleging claims for, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, statutory fraud and violations of the Texas Security Act. Fisher and Boudreaux responded by moving to transfer venue to Tarrant County or dismiss the suit pursuant to the mandatory venue selection clauses in the acquisition documents. The trial court denied the motions. Fisher and Boudreaux sought mandamus relief from the court of appeals, which denied relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted relief, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to enforce the venue selection clauses in the acquisition documents. View "In re Fisher" on Justia Law

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Saul Morales was fleeing from the police when one of the police officers left his Ford vehicle, then pursued and apprehended Morales. The officer’s vehicle began rolling backward toward the pair while the officer attempted to handcuff Morales. The vehicle ran over and came to rest on top of Morales, injuring him. Morales sued Ford Motor Company and the car’s seller (collectively, “Ford”), alleging that the vehicle had a design defect. After deposing two of Ford’s expert witnesses, Morales sought to depose a corporate representative of each expert’s employer to expose potential bias. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief, holding that on the facts of this case, the Rules of Civil Procedure did not permit such discovery. View "In re Ford Motor Co. & Ken Stoepel Ford, Inc." on Justia Law

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Crosstex Energy Services, LP hired Pro Plus, Inc. as the principal contractor to construct a natural gas compression station. Crosstex sued Pro Plus after an explosion occurred at the station, causing $10 million in property damage. The parties entered an agreement to move expert designation dates beyond the limitations period, but after limitations ran, Pro Plus filed a motion to dismiss because Crosstex had not filed a certificate of merit with its original petition as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 150.002. The trial court denied the motion and granted Crosstex an extension to file the certificate. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals did not err in asserting jurisdiction over Pro Plus’s interlocutory appeal of the extension order; (2) section 150.002’s “good cause” extension is available only when a party filed suit within ten days of the end of the limitations period, and therefore, Crosstex could not claim protection from the good cause extension; and (3) a defendant’s conduct can waive the plaintiff’s certificate of merit requirement, but Pro Plus’s conduct did not constitute waiver. View "Crosstex Energy Servs. L.P. v. Pro Plus, Inc." on Justia Law

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Mike Richey sold his interest in Richey Oilfield Construction, Inc. to Nighthawk Oilfield Services, Ltd. Richey remained employed as president of Richey Oil and became a limited partner in Nighthawk. The primary agreements regarding the transaction were a stock purchase agreement, an agreement for the purchase of Richey Oil’s goodwill, and a promissory note. Each of the acquisition agreements contained a forum selection clause naming Tarrant County as the venue for state court actions. When the business did not go as well as the parties had hoped, Richey filed suit in Wise County, where Richey resided, against two Nighthawk executives (together, Relators) for, among other claims, breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, statutory fraud, and violations of the Texas Securities Act. Relators responded by unsuccessfully moving the trial court to transfer venue to Tarrant County or dismiss the suit pursuant to the mandatory venue selection clauses in the acquisition agreements. Relators subsequently sought mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted relief, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to enforce the forum selection clauses in the acquisition agreements. View "In re Fisher" on Justia Law