The mandamus relief could not be granted as to the bonus incentive item because the trial court’s ruling was conditional and had not been fully consummated, making the dispute unripe for mandamus action.
In re Walmart, Inc.
Appellate: Civil, Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 26, 2021
08-20-00191-CV
Jeff Alley
Published
The relators appealed the judgment of the trial court, filing a writ of mandamus against the judge contending that the trial court erred by ordering the relators to disclose documents. The appellate court noted that the trial court did not clearly abuse its discretion, or the relators were not denied an adequate remedy by appeal, by the trial court’s order pertaining to the Amarillo Hostage Incident, the security budgets for El Paso and San Antonio stores, the Tax-Free/Black Friday Weekend transaction and security information for the store, and the corporate minutes. The appellate court found that mandamus would be denied as to those items and the trial court did abuse its discretion by ordering the disclosure of crime-driven policy changes made at Texas stores, and third-party information. The appellate court concluded that the mandamus relief could not be granted as to the bonus incentive item because the trial court’s ruling was conditional and had not been fully consummated, making the dispute unripe for mandamus action. Accordingly, the court conditionally granted mandamus relief.


The appellate court concluded that the appellant had not demonstrated that the trial court abused its discretion by sustaining the appellees' objections to her summary judgment affidavit.
Lockhart v. Chisos Minerals, LLC
Appellate: Civil, Family
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 24, 2021
08-19-00153-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The appellant, in her capacities as Trustee of the Family Bypass Trust and Independent Executor of the Estate of the deceased, appealed the summary judgment quieting title to certain mineral and royalty interests in favor of the appellees. The appellate court found that the record established that the deceased, as Executor of the Estate, had both capacity and authority to execute the Deeds, the Section 38 Interest fell within her power of sale as Executor, the Deeds affected a sale rather than a gift, and the Correction Deeds were not void for lack of the deceased signatures. The appellate court noted that the record conclusively negated the deceased’s claim to superior title and defeated her trespass to try title action. The appellate court concluded that the appellant had not demonstrated that the trial court abused its discretion by sustaining the appellees' objections to her summary judgment affidavit. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. 


The appellate court concluded that because the trial court was not authorized to accept the defendant's guilty plea, that plea was voidable.
Lira v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
March 25, 2021
11-20-00148-CR
John Bailey
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of assault on a public servant. On appeal, the defendant challenged the trial court's conviction and finding that the enhancement allegation to be true, and assessed punishment pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement at imprisonment for eight years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine of $5,000. The appellate court found that because the condition set forth in Article 27.18(a)(1) Texas Code of Criminal Procedure was not met, the trial court was not authorized to accept the defendant's guilty plea. The appellate court concluded that because the trial court was not authorized to accept the defendant's guilty plea, that plea was voidable. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded.


The appellate court concluded that the jury found that the appellant suffered from a behavioral abnormality that made him likely to engage in a predatory act of sexual violence was supported by legally and factually sufficient evidence.
In re the Commitment of K.S.
Appellate: Civil, Criminal, Evidence, Juvenile, Procedure
Texas 10th Court of Appeals
March 24, 2021
10-18-00277-CV
John E. Neill
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which entered an order of civil commitment as a sexually violent predator under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (the Act). The appellate court noted that the record provided support for the expert’s opinions and her opinions could not be characterized as wholly conclusory or without any foundation. The appellate court found that a rational jury could have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the appellant was a repeat, sexually violent offender and suffered from a behavioral abnormality that made him likely to engage in a predatory act of sexual violence. The appellate court concluded that the jury found that the appellant suffered from a behavioral abnormality that made him likely to engage in a predatory act of sexual violence was supported by legally and factually sufficient evidence. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The appellate court concluded that the warrant was not a general warrant and the doctrine of severability was properly applied.
Howard v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 1st Court of Appeals
March 23, 2021
01-19-00083-CR
Sherry Radack
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of possession with intent to deliver between four and 400 grams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. On appeal, the defendant challenged the trial court's assessment of punishment at 8 years confinement, which it then suspended, placing the defendant under community supervision for ten years. The appellate court found that the trial court applied the rule of severability to the search warrant and did not suppress the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant that did not fall into the above categories. The appellate court noted that the warrant specifically detailed that it was to search for marijuana and firearms, and there was probable cause for both of those items based on the defendant's statements to police. The appellate court concluded that the warrant was not a general warrant and the doctrine of severability was properly applied. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. 


The Supreme Court concluded that because the respondent in the case did not pay the amount that “must be paid” on the claim before the statutory deadline, it was not entitled to summary judgment.
Hinojos v. State Farm Lloyds
Consumer, Insurance, Procedure
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 19, 2021
19-0280
Jane N. Bland
Published
The petitioners appealed the judgment of the trial court after the appraisers awarded the petitioner substantially more than the amount the respondent had paid. On appeal, the petitioners challenged the trial court's grant of summary judgment on the petitioner’s Chapter 542 claim, contending that its payment of the appraisal award precluded liability. The Supreme Court held that payment of an appraisal award did not absolve the respondent of statutory liability when a respondent accepted a claim but paid only part of the amount it owed within the statutory deadline. The Supreme Court concluded that because the respondent in the case did not pay the amount that “must be paid” on the claim before the statutory deadline, it was not entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the appellate court and remanded the case to the trial court.


The Supreme Court concluded that mandamus relief was the only adequate remedy in similar cases.
In re State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.
Appellate: Civil, Damages, Insurance, Torts
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 19, 2021
19-0791
James D Blacklock
Published
The relator appealed the judgment of the appellate court, filing a petition for writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court found that the insured could not recover for the relator’s alleged Insurance Code violations under an independent injury theory, and because the Insurance Code claims at issue required the individuals to make the very same showings as the many other plaintiffs whose UIM claims were routinely subject to bifurcated trials, the trial courts abused their discretion by denying the relator’s motions to bifurcate Rule 174(b). The Supreme Court determined that when a bifurcated trial was denied in those circumstances, the insurer lacked an adequate appellate remedy for the time and money utterly wasted enduring eventual reversal of improperly conducted proceedings. The Supreme Court concluded that mandamus relief was the only adequate remedy in similar cases. Accordingly, the court granted the relator’s petitions for writ of mandamus and directed the trial courts to bifurcate the trials of the Insurance Code claims as described.


The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court’s entry of a final judgment mooted the respondent’s mandamus petition.
Elec. Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. v. Panda Power Generation Infrastructure Fund, LLC
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Corporations
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 19, 2021
18-0781
Jeffrey S. Boyd
Published
The respondent appealed the judgment of the trial court, challenging the appellate court's review of a trial court’s interlocutory order presenting a medley of jurisdictional issues. The Supreme Court found that because the mandamus petition challenged the appellate court's judgment addressing the trial court’s second order, the court disagreed and held that the proceeding was not moot, despite the trial court’s entry of its third order. The Supreme Court determined that because the respondent was fully briefed and argued in the appellate court and had been abated pending only order from the court on the petitions could not say that the parties lacked an adequate appellate remedy here. The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court’s entry of a final judgment mooted the respondent’s mandamus petition. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.    


The Supreme Court denied the relators request for mandamus relief because Section 22.004(i)’s prohibition on counter-supersedeas referred to a particular procedural process, not an appellate court’s temporary orders under other authority.
In re Tex. Educ. Agency
Constitution, Education
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 19, 2021
20-0404
Eva M. Guzman
Published
The state regulators appealed an adverse temporary injunction after the trial court allowed the school district to counter-supersede the injunction so the regulators could not undertake any unauthorized actions absent success on appeal. The Supreme Court found that the statute only prohibited counter-supersedeas orders, which occurred within a specific procedural context, and did not apply to orders issued by an appellate court under separate and distinct procedural mechanisms. The Supreme Court granted the State’s motion for temporary relief in State, but the court never reached the merits of the mandamus petition because the court opinion on the Election Code issue resolved the merits of the dispute. The Supreme Court denied the relators request for mandamus relief because Section 22.004(i)’s prohibition on counter-supersedeas referred to a particular procedural process, not an appellate court’s temporary orders under other authority. Accordingly, the appellate court was not without power to issue temporary relief. 


The appellate court concluded that the trial court erred by denying the appellant's motion to dismiss the appellee's bill of review.
State v. Navarrette
Appellate: Civil, Damages, Gov't/Administrative, Litigation: Personal Injury, Torts, Transportation
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 19, 2021
08-18-00017-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The appellants appealed the judgment of the trial court which granted the appellants' plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed the appellee's claims against it under TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. Section 101.101 for failure to provide statutory notice of claim. On appeal, the appellants moved to dismiss the bill of review again on the ground that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, but that time the trial court denied its motion. The appellate court found that the record established that the appellee did not satisfy the notice of claim requirement contained in the Texas Tort Claims Act. The appellate court determined that because that requirement was jurisdictional, failure to satisfy it barred the appellee's claims as a matter of law. The appellate court concluded that the trial court erred by denying the appellant's motion to dismiss the appellee's bill of review. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed. 


The choice to use a present-tense verb in the restrictive clause had no temporal bearing and did not limit the application of section 97.002 to injuries only occurring during ongoing construction or repairs.
A.S. Horner, Inc. v. Navarrette
Appellate: Civil, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Torts
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 19, 2021
08-18-00044-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The appellant appealed the denial of its motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of claims brought against it by the appellee. On appeal, the appellant sought summary judgment on the ground that it was exempted from liability for the appellee’s injuries pursuant to section 97.002 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The appellate court noted that the choice to use a present-tense verb in the restrictive clause had no temporal bearing and did not limit the application of section 97.002 to injuries only occurring during ongoing construction or repairs. The appellate court found that giving the plain language of the statute its ordinary meaning, and considering the text as a whole, the phrase arising from the performance of the construction did not limit section 97.002’s application only to those cases in which an injury was sustained during ongoing highway construction or repairs. The appellate court disagreed with the appellee’s proposed interpretation of the statute’s text. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s order denying the appellant’s motion for summary judgment and rendered judgment.


The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court's reversal of the summary judgment on the declaration that the respondent did appeal.
Eagle Oil & Gas Co. v. TRO-X, L.P.
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Damages, Evidence, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Torts
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 19, 2021
18-0983
Debra Lehrmann
Published
The petitioner appealed the judgment of the appellate court which reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the petitioner. The Supreme Court noted that because the petitioner had not conclusively established that the respondent’s claims in that suit either were brought or could have been brought in the Midland suit, the petitioner was not entitled to summary judgment on res judicata grounds. The Supreme Court found that the respondent based its pertinent allegations and claims in the Midland suit on the premise that it had been deprived of the interests entirely, and it sought damages as a remedy, rather than an assignment, based on the value of those interests at the time. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court's reversal of the summary judgment on the declaration that the respondent did appeal. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the challenged statements.
Nicholls v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
March 18, 2021
11-19-00120-CR
W. Stacy Trotter
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted the defendant of the third-degree felony offense of possession of a controlled substance: namely, methamphetamine. The appellate court found that because an individual’s affidavit was admitted, the State was entitled to present evidence to clarify and rebut any false impression that an individual’s affidavit might have created. The appellate court noted that the defendant must accept the consequences of the decision to offer the defendant's affidavit, and he could not complain that his confrontation rights were violated because the trial court admitted the State’s rebuttal evidence. The appellate court determined that the Confrontation Clause was not violated if a declarant’s out-of-court statement, even if testimonial, was offered for the purpose of impeaching another out-of-court statement made by the same declarant. The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the challenged statements. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The appellate court disagreed with the appellant's claim that the record contained legally insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s judgment.
San Jacinto River Auth. v. Yollick
Damages, Gov't/Administrative
Texas 9th Court of Appeals
March 18, 2021
09-19-00064-CV
Hollis Horton III
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which found the appellant did not handle his request properly and then signed a judgment that required the appellant to disclose most of the information in a document the parties called the appellant's Emergency Action Plan (the Plan). On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial court's finding that a compelling reason existed that allowed the appellant to continue to withhold some of the information in the Plan and to continue to withhold that specific information from the appellee. The appellate court found that to prevent the appellee from accessing that information, the trial court ordered the appellant to redact certain information from its Plan before allowing the appellee to see a copy, listing that information by page and paragraph where the information to be redacted exists in the Plan. The appellate court disagreed with the appellant's claim that the record contained legally insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s judgment. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgment was affirmed.  


The erroneous citation to Tex. Penal Code Ann. Section 43.26(d)(1) in the defendant's judgment for possession with the intent to promote child pornography appeared to have been a typographical clerical error and not the result of erroneous judicial reasoning.
Cain v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 2nd Court of Appeals
March 18, 2021
02-19-00258-CR
Dana Womack
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted the defendant of continuous sexual abuse of a child and possession with the intent to promote child pornography. The appellate court found that the defendant's authenticity complaint did not comport with the objection he made at trial and the defendant did not preserve the authenticity challenge for review, and even if he had, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the text messages into evidence. The appellate court determined that the substance of the text messages also contained identifying information specific to the defendant. The appellate court concluded that the erroneous citation to Tex. Penal Code Ann. Section 43.26(d)(1) in the defendant's judgment for possession with the intent to promote child pornography appeared to have been a typographical clerical error and not the result of erroneous judicial reasoning. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. 


As those statutes were the linchpin of the appellant’s claim for standing, and his ability to state a claim that avoids governmental immunity, their nullity mandated that the City’s plea to the jurisdiction was properly granted.
Zimmerman v. Austin
Constitution, Gov't/Administrative
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 17, 2021
08-20-00039-CV
Jeff Alley
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, seeking a declaration that the proposed expenditure violated state law and for a temporary and permanent injunction to prohibit the appellees from dispersing the funds. On appeal, the appellant alleged that the proposed expenditure violated state law for two distinct reasons: it conflicted with various unrepealed Texas statutes that made it a crime to aid and abet the procurement of an abortion, which he alleged were still viable even after the U.S. Supreme Court found them unconstitutional; and the expenditure of these funds violated the prohibition in the Texas Constitution against providing “gifts” of public money to private individuals or associations. The appellate court observed that the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade expressly held that the Texas criminal abortion statutes were unconstitutional. The appellate court found that as those statutes were the linchpin of the appellant’s claim for standing, and his ability to state a claim that avoids governmental immunity, their nullity mandated that the City’s plea to the jurisdiction was properly granted. The appellate court concluded that the appellant’s lawsuit was not ripe for review, as any pronouncement the court could make on the legality of the expenditures which may never be made would be an advisory opinion, which would not only violate the Constitution but would be an unpractical and unwise use of the court's judicial resources. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's judgment.


The appellate court concluded that the appellants failed to establish that the return of service did not strictly comply with the court order on this ground.
Pirate Oilfield Services, Inc. v. Cunningham
Appellate: Civil, Business, Contracts, Damages, Evidence, Procedure, Real Property, Torts
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
March 18, 2021
11-19-00080-CV
W. Bruce Williams
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which granted the appellee’s motion for substituted service on the first appellant and ordered that substituted service be made by posting at the first appellant’s address. The appellate court observed that the appellee conducted reasonable diligence in attempting to locate the first appellant at the registered address and was permitted to serve the secretary of state and the service was not defective against the second appellant, and the trial court did not err in granting default judgment. The appellate court found that the appellants failed to establish that the order was fatally defective and that service did not strictly comply with the trial court’s order on that ground. The appellate court concluded that the appellants failed to establish that the return of service did not strictly comply with the court order on this ground. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


There was simply no reference to the hours worked and the hourly rate charged, and without details about the work done and how much time was spent on each task, the affidavits lacked the substance required to uphold a fee award.
Jurgens v. Martin
Appellate: Civil, Damages, Real Property, Torts
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
March 18, 2021
11-18-00316-CV
John M. Bailey
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, arising from an ancillary civil action related to a probate proceeding. The appellate court observed that the appellant may raise for the first time on appeal the issue of the appellee’s standing to assert a claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate for fraud on the community. The appellate court agreed that the appellee did not have standing to assert the claim. The appellate court determined that there was simply no reference to the hours worked and the hourly rate charged, and without details about the work done and how much time was spent on each task, the affidavits lacked the substance required to uphold a fee award. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed, reversed, and remanded.


The appellate court concluded that due to the lack of jurisdiction to consider the appeal from the trial court’s order, the Court dismissed that portion of his appeal.
Ex parte Carter
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
March 17, 2021
04-20-00396-CR
Liza A. Rodriguez
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted the defendant of four felonies. The appellate court noted that it had no jurisdiction to address the defendant's complaint that he was denied due process when the trial court order granted the State’s motion and increased his bail to $400,000. The appellate court further found that the defendant failed to meet his burden to show that the trial court abused its discretion when it set his bail in the amount of $200,000 and the trial court could have reasonably concluded that the current bail amount was necessary to reasonably assure the defendant's appearance at trial and to protect the community. The appellate court concluded that due to the lack of jurisdiction to consider the appeal from the trial court’s order, the Court dismissed that portion of his appeal. Accordingly, the defendant's habeas relief was partially granted. 


The appellate court concluded that the appellee’s requested relief would require the court to alter the trial court’s judgment and the court did not have jurisdiction to consider the cross-point.
Benner v. Armstrong
Appellate: Civil, Real Property
Texas 10th Court of Appeals
March 17, 2021
10-19-00279-CV
John E. Neill
Published
The appellant, as Administrator of the Estate, appealed the judgment of the trial court which set aside the two challenged gift deeds but awarded the appellees 9.9 acres after finding that they had pleaded and proved adverse possession. The appellate court found that the appellee’s testimony did not establish that the property was designedly enclosed to graze animals. The appellate court noted that the evidence did not establish adverse possession under the 10-year limitations period and the appellees contended that if they were satisfied with the relief granted by the trial court, but merely wanted to present an additional independent ground for affirming the trial court’s judgment, no notice of appeal was required citing. Rule 25.1 (c) of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure provided that a party who sought to alter the trial court’s judgment must file a notice of appeal. The appellate court concluded that the appellee’s requested relief would require the court to alter the trial court’s judgment and the court did not have jurisdiction to consider the cross-point. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment was reversed and remanded.  


The appellate court concluded that a credibility determination at the stage of the proceedings was premature.
In re T.D.L.
Family, Juvenile
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
March 17, 2021
04-20-00274-CV
Beth Watkins
Published
The grandmother appealed the trial court’s order dismissing her original suit affecting the parent-child relationship for lack of standing. The appellate court observed that the grandmother's pleadings were sufficient to assert standing under section 102.003(a)(9) of the Texas Family Code. The appellate court must therefore determine whether the jurisdictional evidence raised a fact question as to the grandmother's standing under that statute, and when viewed in the light most favorable to the grandmother, the evidence raised a fact question about whether the grandmother had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months ending not more than 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the petition. The appellate court concluded that a credibility determination at the stage of the proceedings was premature. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s order dismissing the SAPCR for lack of standing and remanded.


The appellate court upheld the arbitrator’s award and concluded that the trial court erred in awarding post-judgment interest.
ETC Intrastate Procurement Co., LLC v. JSW Steel (USA), Inc.
ADR, Contracts, Corporations, Damages, Evidence, Torts
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 16, 2021
14-19-00915-CV
Frances Bourliot
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which compelled arbitration and confirmed the arbitrator’s award, but in addition, awarded the appellee post-judgment interest. The appellate court observed that there was evidence to support the trial court’s finding that the terms and conditions were attached to Trane’s bid proposal and thus became part of the contract when Consolidated sent its purchase order. The appellate court found that the arbitrator initially awarded interest but added the language “or a judgment is entered” after the appellant moved to modify the award. The appellate court upheld the arbitrator’s award and concluded that the trial court erred in awarding post-judgment interest. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed as modified.


The appellate court concluded that the defendant did not point to any evidence contradicting the judgment recitals and therefore had not overcome the presumption of regularity.
Wiggins v. State
Constitution, Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 16, 2021
14-20-00076-CR
Kevin Jewell
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. The appellate court noted that the defendant's as-applied challenge to the constitutionality of Government Code Section 74.056(a) failed and the court agreed that the trial court assessed a higher amount of costs than permitted by the applicable statute. The appellate court determined that the recitals contained in a judgment created a presumption of regularity and truthfulness, absent an affirmative showing to the contrary. The appellate court concluded that the defendant did not point to any evidence contradicting the judgment recitals and therefore had not overcome the presumption of regularity. Accordingly, the court modified the judgment to eliminate the unauthorized costs and affirmed the judgment as modified.  


There were genuine issues of material fact as to the original lessee’s claims of tortious interference, except to the extent those claims were made against individuals or their agents for allegedly interfering with their own lease with the appellant company.
MRC Permian Co. v. Point Energy Partners Permian LLC
Contracts, Corporations
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 15, 2021
08-19-00124-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which ruled on a number of competing motions for summary judgment granting some and denying others and permitted the parties to pursue an interlocutory appeal with respect to what it identified as three controlling questions of law. The appellate court observed that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the original leases were perpetuated in their entirety by the operation of their force majeure clauses, such that the trial court’s summary judgment ruling on the issue in favor of the appellees was an error. The appellate court did not reach the second question because it was not ripe for a decision due to the factual dispute arising in the first question. The appellate court concluded that there were genuine issues of material fact as to the original lessee’s claims of tortious interference, except to the extent those claims were made against individuals or their agents for allegedly interfering with their own lease with the appellant company. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part.


The Supreme Court concluded that no evidence existed that the plaintiff would suffer undue delay or injury.
In re Sandoval
Appellate: Civil, Family, Juvenile, Procedure
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 12, 2021
19-1032
Per Curiam
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which denied his motion for new trial, arguing equitable grounds under the Craddock standard and legal grounds regarding improper service or notice of suit. The Supreme Court noted that because the defendant was reasonably unaware that his separate property would be affected in the divorce, his failure to respond was not intentional or the result of conscious indifference but the result of an accident or mistake. The Supreme Court found that according to the defendant, the home the plaintiff received was neither community property nor was it developed by community funds. The Supreme Court determined that the plaintiff offered no evidence of harm, and allowing the defendant an opportunity to establish proper ownership of the house would not upset the underlying divorce, custody, support, or division of the community assets. The Supreme Court concluded that no evidence existed that the plaintiff would suffer undue delay or injury. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed and remanded.


The petitioner failed to provide the trial court with a reasonable basis to conclude that it lacked sufficient information to determine whether her claims against the relator were arbitrable.
In re Copart, Inc.
ADR, Constitution, Contracts, Discovery, Employment, Procedure
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 12, 2021
19-1078
Per Curiam
Published
The relator appealed the judgment of the appellate court in a suit where the petitioner claimed discrimination and retaliation in violation of chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code. On appeal, the relator challenged the trial court's authorization that the petitioner conduct “limited” discovery on issues of arbitrability. The Supreme Court found that the petitioner's motion and affidavit demonstrated no colorable basis or reason to believe that the requested discovery would be material in establishing the agreement’s existence and enforceability. The Supreme Court determined that the petitioner failed to provide the trial court with a reasonable basis to conclude that it lacked sufficient information to determine whether her claims against the relator were arbitrable. The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court clearly abused its discretion by ordering pre-arbitration discovery. Accordingly, the Court conditionally granted mandamus relief.


There was insufficient evidence to constitute a reversibly harmful error and the error probably did not cause the rendition of an improper judgment and was harmless.
In re Commitment of Hill
Criminal, Election, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 5th Court of Appeals
March 11, 2021
05-19-01163-CV
Erin A. Nowell
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of five sexually violent offenses and imposed a sentence for each of those offenses. The appellate court found that the jury heard the defendant had stable employment, familial support, and complied with the terms of his parole, and the jury also learned about the defendant's prior sexual assault convictions, gang affiliation, criminal gang activities, and sexual offense while incarcerated. The appellate court noted that the State’s expert witness testified that after examining more than 2,000 pages of the defendant's records, meeting with the defendant twice, considering the results of the actuarial assessments, and analyzing the relevant research, he concluded the defendant had a behavioral abnormality as defined by the Texas Health and Safety Code. The appellate court concluded that there was insufficient evidence to constitute a reversibly harmful error and the error probably did not cause the rendition of an improper judgment and was harmless. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment was affirmed.              


The Supreme Court concluded that the compressor-fuel damages, which were awarded based on each leasehold’s full aliquot share, were not conclusively established as the amount awarded.
BlueStone Natural Res. II, LLC v. Randle
Contracts, Damages, Procedure, Torts
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 12, 2021
19-0459
Eva M. Guzman
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court in an oil and gas dispute presenting two contract-construction issues affecting the calculation of gas royalty payments whether the mineral lease permitted deduction of post production costs from sales proceeds before royalties were computed; and whether the lease’s free use clause authorized the lessee to consume leasehold gas in off-lease operations without compensating the lessors. The Supreme Court found that the lower courts correctly concluded that the lessee’s deduction of post production costs was improper because the mineral lease explicitly resolved the conflict in favor of the gross-proceeds calculation. The Supreme Court noted that the second issue was one of first impression that was settled by the mineral-lease’s language, and construed contextually, the lease’s free-use clause was limited to on-lease uses. The Supreme Court determined that the lessee’s on-lease use of gas for compressor fuel did, so use of that gas would be free of the royalty burden except that the lessee commingles gas from the leased premises with gas from other wells and the record was devoid of evidence that each leasehold’s aliquot share was actually or entirely consumed by compressors on those premises. The Supreme Court concluded that the compressor-fuel damages, which were awarded based on each leasehold’s full aliquot share, were not conclusively established as the amount awarded. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.  


The appellate court concluded that the defendant could not show the insufficiency of the evidence to support a finding without a reporter’s record.
Bell v. State
Appellate: Civil, Family, Procedure
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 11, 2021
08-20-00149-CV
Yvonne T. Rodriguez
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which ordered the defendant to refrain from committing acts of family violence against the plaintiff or members of her household, and likewise not to communicate with the plaintiff except through counsel. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in granting a protective order without making a finding that family violence had occurred. The appellate court found that when a reporter's record was not filed, as in the case, the court must assume that the missing evidence supported the trial court's ruling. The appellate court determined that if there was no reporter’s record or findings of fact, the court must presume the evidence was sufficient. The appellate court concluded that the defendant could not show the insufficiency of the evidence to support a finding without a reporter’s record. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgment was affirmed. 


The appellate court concluded that although the State failed to establish exigency in the case, based on the recent case law from the United States Supreme Court, the circumstances presented by the State did establish exigency.
State v. Ruiz
Constitution, Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 13th Court of Appeals
March 11, 2021
13-13-00507-CR
Gina M. Benavides
Published
The State appealed the judgment of the trial court which granted the defendant's motion to suppress. The appellate court noted that although the sergeant testified in a conclusory manner that taking one of the two officers off duty to apply for a blood warrant would have been unreasonable without much further elaboration, the facts showed that the sergeant was dealing with an accident scene caused by the defendant, as well as an unconscious the defendant, with minimal assistance available to her at that time. The appellate court concluded that although the State failed to establish exigency in the case, based on the recent case law from the United States Supreme Court, the circumstances presented by the State did establish exigency. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and remanded.


The district court correctly concluded that, with respect to the appellee, Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 18-10b was an unconstitutional bill of attainder.
United Locating Services, LLC v. Fobbs
Appellate: Civil, Damages, Employment, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 11, 2021
14-19-00178-CV
Randy Wilson
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which denied a motion to dismiss brought under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA). On appeal, the appellant challenged the appellees' assertions of claims for defamation and invasion of privacy by appropriation of name or likeness. In response, the appellees alleged that at some point after they stopped working for the appellant, the appellant placed their names on various “work orders” and “damage tickets.” The appellate court found that the appellant established that the TCPA applied to the Former Employees defamation and Name Appropriation Claims. The appellate court sustained the appellant's two issues, reversed the trial court’s order denying the appellant’s motion to dismiss, and remanded the case for the trial court to determine the amount of reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, and sanctions to award to the appellant, to determine the extent to which justice and equity require an award to the appellant of other expenses incurred in defending against the legal action, and to render a judgment making such awards and dismissing the appellees' claims with prejudice. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed and the case was remanded.  


The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold a hearing regarding the legal questions.
Schneider v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 3rd Court of Appeals
March 10, 2021
03-19-00732-CR
Thomas J. Baker
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted the defendant of driving while intoxicated with two or more prior convictions for the same offense and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment. The appellate court noted that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold a hearing, and in her motion for a new trial, the defendant argued that the results of her blood test should have been suppressed because of the recent State v. Martinez decision and because testing of her blood sample did not occur within the three-day deadline found in article 18.07. The appellate court found that the analysis from Martinez did not require that a search warrant authorizing a blood draw in a driving-while-intoxicated case specifically authorized blood-alcohol testing or that a second search warrant expressly authorizing that type of testing to be obtained before a blood sample might be tested, and article 18.07 did not require that a timely collected sample be subjected to testing within three days of the issuance of the warrant. The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold a hearing regarding the legal questions. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. 


The appellate court concluded that the trial court erred when it construed the reservation as a fixed NPRI and awarded attorney’s fees.
Hoffman v. Thomson
Appellate: Civil, Damages, Gov't/Administrative, Procedure
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
March 10, 2021
04-19-00771-CV
Patricia O. Alvarez
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court in an oil and gas deed construction case where the parties disputed whether the deed reserved a fixed or floating non-participating royalty interest (NPRI). On appeal, neither party challenged the existence or validity of the deed, but they offered opposing constructions of the interest reserved. The appellate court found that having considered the deed in its entirety, its era, its plain language, the provisions’ structure, and the case law, the only reasonable interpretation of the reservation that harmonized all the words and rendered none meaningless was that the interest reserved was a floating NPRI. The appellate court concluded that the trial court erred when it construed the reservation as a fixed NPRI and awarded attorney’s fees. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and remanded for a determination of any costs and attorney’s fees.


The appellate court concluded that when the appellant was first added as a defendant on a date after the amendments to the Texas Citizens Participation Act became effective, the fraud causes of action against her were exempted from the Act.
Straub v. Pesca Holding LLC
Appellate: Civil, Business, Consumer, Contracts, Corporations, Procedure, Torts
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
March 10, 2021
04-20-00276-CV
Patricia O. Alvarez
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which denied the motion to dismiss the suit under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA). The appellate court noted that because common law fraud claims were exempted from the amendments to the TCPA, the appellant failed to meet her burden on the applicability of the TCPA. The appellate court found that the amendments to the TCPA, which exempt common law fraud from the Act, applied to a newly added party’s claims when the new party was added to a legal action on or after the effective date of the Act. The appellate court determined that a contrary conclusion would be absurd since it would mean that the appellant would have had to file a motion to dismiss within sixty days after the original petition was filed when she was not yet a party to the suit. The appellate court concluded that when the appellant was first added as a defendant on a date after the amendments to the TCPA became effective, the fraud causes of action against her were exempted from the Act. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed and remanded.


Since the appellees met their burden to demonstrate the advertisements in the case fall within the TCPA’s commercial-speech exemption, the court need not consider the appellants’ remaining issues.
Buzbee v. Canales
Appellate: Civil, Consumer, Damages, Employment, Evidence, Health Care, Insurance, Juvenile, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Torts
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 09, 2021
08-20-00138-CV
Yvonne T. Rodriguez
Published
The appellants appealed the judgment of the trial court which denied a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act (TCPA). On appeal, the appellants filed a motion seeking expedited dismissal of a suit brought by the appellees against the appellants for defamation and business disparagement in relation to advertisements the appellants published in local newspapers and on social media. The appellate court noted that the advertisements on their face clearly identified the appellants as a seller of legal services, including medical malpractice legal services, to a pool of potential medical malpractice claimants. The appellate court found that the ads suggested to other potential medical malpractice claimants with potential claims against the appellee that the appellants was available for hire for their claims. The appellate court concluded that since the appellees met their burden to demonstrate the advertisements in the case fall within the TCPA’s commercial-speech exemption, the court need not consider the appellants’ remaining issues. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The City's ordinance’s paid sick and safe leave provision established a minimum wage, which was inconsistent with the TMWA and thus violated the Texas Constitution.
Wash. v. Associated Builders & Contractors of S. Tex. Inc.
Constitution, Employment, Gov't/Administrative
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
March 10, 2021
04-20-00004-CV
Patricia O. Alvarez
Published
The City appealed the judgment of the trial court which granted the plaintiff's request for a temporary injunction after the City passed an ordinance requiring private employers, the plaintiff, to pay employees for sick and safe leave. On appeal, the City challenged the plaintiff's argument that the Texas Minimum Wage Act (TMWA) preempted the ordinance. The appellate court concluded that the City's ordinance’s paid sick and safe leave provision established a minimum wage, which was inconsistent with the TMWA and thus violated the Texas Constitution. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s order.


The appellate court concluded that the defendant had not shown the trial court abused its discretion in denying his habeas applications to reduce bail.
Ex Parte Holliday
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 09, 2021
14-20-00737-CR
Ken Wise
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which denied his applications for writs of habeas corpus for reduction of bail in charges against him for continuous assault of a family member and murder. The appellate court found that the defendant bore the burden to prove the bail set was excessive. The appellate court determined that even if the defendant's statements could be considered as evidence to support his habeas application for a bail reduction, they would not satisfy his evidentiary burden because they were not relevant to any of the article 17.15 factors or Rubac factors. The appellate court concluded that the defendant had not shown the trial court abused its discretion in denying his habeas applications to reduce bail. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The appellate court determined that none of the appellee’s cross-points would vitiate the jury’s verdict, and therefore, the court sustained the appellant’s issues and overruled the appellee’s cross-points.
Gator Gone Safety Pilots v. Holt
Appellate: Civil, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Torts
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 09, 2021
14-19-00740-CV
Kevin Jewell
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment notwithstanding the verdict following a jury trial in a dispute arising from injuries the appellee received in an accident during the transportation of an oversized load along Interstate 10. On the appellee’s motion, the trial court granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict, disregarded the jury’s negligence findings against all defendants other than the appellant, and signed a judgment awarding the appellee recovery of all his damages against the appellant. The appellate court found that the trial court erred in granting the appellee’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict because legally sufficient evidence supported the jury’s liability findings against all three defendants. The appellate court determined that none of the appellee’s cross-points would vitiate the jury’s verdict, and therefore, the court sustained the appellant’s issues and overruled the appellee’s cross-points. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed.


The appellants failed to present scientifically reliable expert testimony or epidemiological evidence demonstrating that the deceased’s exposure to the appellee corporation asbestos products more than doubled her risk of developing mesothelioma.
Neely v. Union Carbide Corp.
Appellate: Civil, Corporations, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 02, 2021
14-18-01027-CV
Frances Bourliot
Published
The appellants appealed the judgment of the trial court, alleging that asbestos fibers designed, manufactured, or marketed by the appellee were a substantial factor in causing the deceased's fatal mesothelioma. The appellate court found that although the individual appellant said that the deceased might have had to repeat her clothes-washing process more than once on the days that she washed his work clothes, there was no specific evidence regarding how much time she would spend doing so or how long the dust from the process would remain airborne. The appellate court determined that the opinions expressed in the doctor’s affidavit also depended on unsupported factual assumptions, unrevealed and unexplained calculations and methodologies, studies for which he did not provide necessary information, and other studies that were not demonstrated to be sufficiently similar to the deceased’s exposure to support causation. The appellate court concluded that the appellants failed to present scientifically reliable expert testimony or epidemiological evidence demonstrating that the deceased’s exposure to the appellee corporation asbestos products more than doubled her risk of developing mesothelioma. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment for the appellee and the judgment was affirmed.                          


The appellate court concluded that because the trial court’s judgment may be upheld on the appellant's joint liability with the appellant firm, the court need not consider his alternative argument regarding an alter-ego theory or a piercing of the corporate veil.
Nevarez v. USAA Fed. Sav. Bank
Appellate: Civil, Banking and Finance, Procedure
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
March 05, 2021
08-19-00120-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The appellants appealed the judgment of the trial court, filing an answer generally denying the allegations and asserting various affirmative defenses, which were not at issue there. On appeal, the appellants appealed the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the appellee. The appellate court found that the appellee proved there was no genuine issue of material fact on its claim for money had and received against the appellant firm and that the appellants’ asserted defenses did not apply there. The appellate court determined that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment against the appellant firm on the appellee's claim for money had and received. The appellate court concluded that because the trial court’s judgment may be upheld on the appellant's joint liability with the appellant firm, the court need not consider his alternative argument regarding an alter-ego theory or a piercing of the corporate veil. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment.  


Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 52.8(c), without hearing oral argument, the court conditionally granted the petitioner mandamus relief and directed the trial court to vacate its order granting the respondent’s motion to designate an individual as an unknown responsible third party.
In re Gonzales
Appellate: Civil, Procedure, Torts
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 05, 2021
20-0506
Per Curiam
Published
The petitioner appealed the judgment of the trial court, alleging that the respondent negligently caused an automobile accident. On appeal, the petitioner challenged a trial court's order allowing the respondent to designate an unknown person as a responsible third party. The Supreme Court found that because the trial court failed to properly apply section 33.004, it abused its discretion by granting the respondent’s motion for leave to designate an individual as an unknown responsible third party. The Supreme Court determined that the petitioner did not have an adequate remedy at law and rendered mandamus relief appropriate. The Supreme Court concluded that pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 52.8(c), without hearing oral argument, the court conditionally granted the petitioner mandamus relief and directed the trial court to vacate its order granting the respondent’s motion to designate an individual as an unknown responsible third party. Accordingly, the court's writ would issue only if the trial court failed to comply.


The appellate court concluded that the appellees were not entitled to attorney’s fees and sustained that issue.
Paxton v. Waller Cnty.
Appellate: Civil, Gov't/Administrative
Texas 7th Court of Appeals
March 04, 2021
07-20-00297-CV
Judy C. Parker
Published
The Attorney General appealed the judgment of the trial court in an action for mandamus and civil penalties against the appellees. On appeal, the Attorney General claimed that the County was unlawfully attempting to prohibit licensed handgun owners carrying handguns from accessing the county courthouse building in its entirety, in violation of Texas Government Code Section 411.209. The appellate court found that because the appellees were seeking a declaration of their rights under the statutes, not challenging their validity, the appellant's immunity was not waived under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act (UDJA). The appellate court could not conclude that the appellant acted outside of his authority in making that determination, and therefore, the appellees failed to allege a viable ultra vires claim against the appellant. The appellate court concluded that the appellees were not entitled to attorney’s fees and sustained that issue. Accordingly, the court reversed the order of the trial court. 


The evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for cargo theft under section 31.18(b)(1) of the Texas Penal Code.
Joe v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 10th Court of Appeals
March 03, 2021
10-18-00221-CR
John E. Neill
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court, contending that the evidence supported his conviction for theft of cargo was insufficient. The appellate court found that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict, a rational factfinder could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in conduct namely, hooking up the trailer to his truck that demonstrated possession of the goods. The appellate court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for cargo theft under section 31.18(b)(1) of the Texas Penal Code. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.


Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict, there was sufficient evidence to support the defendant's conviction in the case for felony assault family violence.
Busby v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 10th Court of Appeals
March 03, 2021
10-18-00262-CR
John E. Neill
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of assault family violence under section 22.01(a)(1), which was enhanced by his prior conviction for assault family violence under section 22.01(b)(2)(A). On appeal, the defendant challenged his conviction for felony assault family violence. The appellate court observed that the State presented certified copies of the complaint, information, and waiver of rights in the case. The appellate court found that it was sufficient evidence to prove the element of a prior conviction involving assault family violence to enhance the charged offense in this case to a third-degree felony, and the defendant's guilty plea constituted some evidence to support his conviction for misdemeanor assault family violence. The appellate court concluded that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict, there was sufficient evidence to support the defendant's conviction in the case for felony assault family violence. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The Supreme Court concluded that only a subset of those who engage in the covered behavior—not just anyone—could be penalized under the ordinance.
In re Durnin
Constitution, Election, Gov't/Administrative
The Supreme Court of Texas
March 02, 2021
21-0170
James D Blacklock
Published
The relators appealed the judgment of the trial court, supporting the City's ordinance and filing the mandamus proceeding seeking changes to the Council’s ballot language. On appeal, the relators supported the citizen-initiated ordinance regarding camping in public spaces, sitting and lying down on public sidewalks, and the aggressive solicitation of money. The Supreme Court found that the relators have clearly established their entitlement to mandamus relief in one respect and the Council’s ballot language said the proposed ordinance created a criminal offense and a penalty for anyone sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in or near downtown and for anyone camping in a public area not designated by the Parks and Recreation Department. The Supreme Court determined that the ordinance itself, however, did not apply to anyone who engaged in the listed activities, and to the contrary, the ordinance contained several exceptions covering a variety of common uses of the sidewalk that the ordinance did not criminalize. The Supreme Court concluded that only a subset of those who engage in the covered behavior—not just anyone—could be penalized under the ordinance. Accordingly, the petition for writ of mandamus was conditionally granted in part. 


The appellate court concluded that it was without jurisdiction to consider the issues raised by the State.
State v. Garcia
Constitution, Criminal, Evidence, Immigration, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 02, 2021
14-20-00548-CR
Jerry Zimmerer
Published
The State appealed the judgment of the trial court which granted the defendant's application for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Article 11.09 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in which he alleged that his guilty plea was involuntary because he was not advised of the immigration consequences of his plea. The appellate court found that unlike the trial court in Garcia, the trial court did not make specific findings of fact, nor did the trial court’s order granted a new trial. The appellate court determined that the trial court vacated the conviction and discharged the defendant, and the record did not reflect that the trial court ordered a rehearing in the case. The appellate court further found that because the trial court’s grant of relief to an applicant for a writ of habeas corpus under Article 11.09 could not be fairly characterized as an unfavorable ruling on a ruling from which the State would otherwise have the right to appeal the order, Article 44.01 did not authorize the State’s appeal in the cause. The appellate court concluded that it was without jurisdiction to consider the issues raised by the State. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction. 


To the extent that the appellant challenged the appellee’s second summary-judgment ground that the appellee could not be sued as a non sui juris entity, the court did not reach that argument as the trial court’s judgment was supportable on the statute-of-limitations ground.
Sorrow v. Harris Cnty. Sheriff
Appellate: Civil, Constitution, Evidence, Gov't/Administrative, Health Care, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Torts
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 02, 2021
14-18-00901-CV
Charles Spain
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, alleging a variety of tort, statutory, and constitutional violations stemming from the appellant’s medical treatment while in the custody of the Sheriff during his pre-trial detention. On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial court’s grant of the appellee’s second amended motion for summary judgment, which dismissed with prejudice the appellant’s claims that he suffered injuries from medical care he received in pre-trial detention while in the appellee’s custody. The appellate court noted that the appellant had not demonstrated that his injuries were categorically undiscoverable, and the trial court did not err in refusing to apply the discovery rule to toll limitations. The appellate court found that to the extent that the appellant challenged the appellee’s second summary-judgment ground that the appellee could not be sued as a non sui juris entity, the court did not reach that argument as the trial court’s judgment was supportable on the statute-of-limitations ground. The appellate court concluded that the record had been supplemented to the extent of documents in the possession of the district clerk. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.


The appellate court concluded that the State agreed with the defendant, the defendant was incompetent at the time of his trial and his trial was rendered invalid on due-process grounds.
Bautista v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 02, 2021
14-18-00042-CR
Jerry Zimmerer
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The appellate court noted that none of the defendant's arguments established that, when viewed under the appropriate standard of review, the evidence was legally insufficient to support his conviction. The appellate court disagreed that the jury’s decision to not convict the defendant of the greater charge factors into the court's analysis of the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the lesser included offense conviction. The appellate court determined that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the evidence provided by the complainant was legally sufficient to support the defendant's conviction. The appellate court concluded that the State agreed with the defendant, the defendant was incompetent at the time of his trial and his trial was rendered invalid on due-process grounds. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case. 


Even if the substance of the plea to the jurisdiction were a motion for summary judgment on the merits, the trial court would have erred in granting summary judgment based on any of the grounds expressly presented in the motion.
Roy v. Alkusari, L.L.C.
Civil Rights, Employment
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
March 02, 2021
14-19-00121-CV
Randy Wilson
Published
The appellant, a former employee, challenged the trial court’s granting of the appellees’ plea to the jurisdiction in the sex-discrimination case. The appellate court observed that a non-governmental defendant’s failure to have enough employees to qualify as an employer under Texas Labor Code section 21.002(8)(A) did not deprive a trial court of subject-matter jurisdiction over claims against the defendant under Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code (the Act). The appellate court found that even if the substance of the plea to the jurisdiction were a motion for summary judgment on the merits, the trial court would have erred in granting summary judgment based on any of the grounds expressly presented in the motion. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and remanded.


The appellate court concluded that the appellant failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence the appellee’s suit was based on, related to, or in response to its exercise of free speech or free association.
Teachers Fed. Credit Union v. Esquivel
Civil Rights, Constitution, Torts
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
February 26, 2021
08-18-00200-CV
Yvonne T. Rodriguez
Published
The appellant appealed the trial court’s denial of its Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to the Texas Citizens Participation Act (the Act). On appeal, the appellant filed a motion to dismiss under the Act, asserting the appellee’s claims were based on or related to the appellant’s exercise of free speech and free association as defined under the Act. The appellate court held that the appellant did not meet its burden in proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the appellee’s lawsuit was based on, related to, or in response to its exercise of the right of free speech or its right of association. The appellate court found that the appellant’s motion was properly denied. The appellate court concluded that the appellant failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence the appellee’s suit was based on, related to, or in response to its exercise of free speech or free association. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of the appellant’s Motion to Dismiss. 


There was sufficient evidence for a jury to have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant recklessly caused the child serious bodily injury by failing to seek medical treatment.
Cyr v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
February 26, 2021
11-19-00041-CR
W. Bruce Williams
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted the defendant of recklessly, by omission, causing serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury to a child fourteen years of age or younger. On appeal, the defendant challenged the punishment at confinement in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for a term of fifteen years. The appellate court found that because the trial court erred in omitting an instruction on concurrent causation and because the error caused at least some harm to the defendant, the court reversed the judgment of conviction and remanded the cause for a new trial consistent with the opinion. The appellate court determined that viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the verdict, there was sufficient evidence for a jury to have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant recklessly caused the child serious bodily injury by failing to seek medical treatment. The appellate court declined to further address the issue of whether there was sufficient evidence that the defendant caused the child serious bodily injury by failing to protect the child. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the cause for a new trial consistent with the opinion.  


The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not err in granting the appellee’s motion to dismiss based on the existence of the forum-selection clause.
Sullivan v. Microsoft Corp.
Contracts, Employment
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
February 26, 2021
08-20-00046-CV
Jeff Alley
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which granted the appellee's motion to dismiss the appellant’s lawsuit based on a forum-selection clause that was contained in an employment agreement signed by both parties. On appeal, the appellant contended that his lawsuit was not based on a breach of that employment agreement, but rather the breach of an offer letter that set forth his compensation schedule, and which did not contain a forum-selection clause. The appellant further alleged that the forum-selection clause did not apply to his breach of contract case, and that the trial court erred in dismissing his lawsuit on that basis. The appellate court noted that the two agreements were not intended to function separately, but were instead intended to function in tandem with each other to accomplish the same purpose, that was, to set forth the terms of the appellant’s employment, to include the nature of his compensation. The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not err in granting the appellee’s motion to dismiss based on the existence of the forum-selection clause. Accordingly, the trial court’s order was affirmed.


The trial court did not violate the appellant's due process right to be heard, including his right to present evidence and to a trial on the merits of his case.
Joseph v. Jack
Appellate: Civil, Constitution, Gov't/Administrative, Procedure
Texas 1st Court of Appeals
February 25, 2021
01-19-00280-CV
April L. Farris
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, filing a bill of review requesting that the trial court vacate the default protective order, reopen those proceedings, and grant a new trial. On appeal, the appellant challenged the denial of both the appellant's bill of review and summary judgment motion. The appellate court found that Travieso did not support the appellant's argument that the serving officer was required to sign the return in his official capacity. The appellate court determined that the serving officer was not required to sign his name in his official capacity and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the appellant's bill of review. The appellate court disagreed with the appellant that the trial court erred by entering judgment on his bill of review when the appellee did not file a cross-motion for summary judgment. The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not violate the appellant's due process right to be heard, including his right to present evidence and to a trial on the merits of his case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court and dismissed any pending motions as moot.  


The appellate court disagreed with the appellant because his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress was not properly before the court when the appellee filed its motion or when the court ruled.
Chehab v. Edgewood Dev., Ltd.
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Damages, Employment, Landlord and Tenant, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Real Property, Torts
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
February 25, 2021
14-20-00031-CV
Kevin Jewell
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, alleging that the lockout notice was libelous per se. On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial court's grant of the appellee’s motion, dismissing with prejudice all of the appellant’s claims. The appellate court observed that the appellant’s live pleading at the time of the summary judgment hearing was the appellant’s first amended petition, which asserted claims for defamation and negligence, but not intentional infliction of emotional distress. The appellate court found that as a result, the summary judgment order disposed of all pending claims and parties when it was signed and the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment on the appellant’s defamation claim. The appellate court affirmed the judgment dismissing the negligence claim. The appellate court disagreed with the appellant because his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress was not properly before the court when the appellee filed its motion or when the court ruled. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The evidence did not satisfy the appellees' burden of proof, and because the appellees did not conclusively negate the unsound-mind exception to limitations, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment.
Rollins v. Pressler
Appellate: Civil, Criminal, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Torts
Texas 1st Court of Appeals
February 25, 2021
01-19-00460-CV
Gordon Goodman
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, alleging that the appellee began molesting him after they met at a Bible study group led by the appellee. On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial court's grant of partial summary judgment in favor of the appellee and the other appellees based on their limitations defense, which disposed of all but a handful of the appellant’s claims. The appellate court found that the prior litigation between the appellant and the appellee did not conclusively prove that the appellant was of sound mind when his sexual-assault claim last accrued. The appellate court noted that the evidence did not satisfy the appellees' burden of proof, and because the appellees did not conclusively negate the unsound-mind exception to limitations, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. The appellate court need not resolve the parties’ dispute about whether the doctrine of fraudulent concealment provided a defense to limitations. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.  


The appellate court concluded that because Section 34.02(a)(4) was susceptible of a construction that provided an actus reus for the phrase “intends to finance or invest,” it was not unconstitutional for punishing mere thoughts and, therefore, it was not facially unconstitutional.
Ex parte Couch
Constitution, Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 2nd Court of Appeals
February 25, 2021
02-19-00216-CR
Wade J. Birdwell
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of money laundering. On appeal, the defendant filed an application for writ of habeas corpus and an amended application for writ of habeas corpus, seeking dismissal of all four indictments. The appellate court noted that the Legislature enacted Penal Code Section Section 34.02(a)(4) with knowledge of the Court of Criminal Appeals’ construction of the phrase “finances or invests” in the illegal investment statute, and thus, the Legislature included the phrase “intends to finance or invest” to foreclose the similar argument made regarding the illegal investment statute. The appellate court found that the construction aligned with the legislative intent and the statute’s context defined an actus reus, and avoided violating the Constitution. The appellate court concluded that because Section 34.02(a)(4) was susceptible of a construction that provided an actus reus for the phrase “intends to finance or invest,” it was not unconstitutional for punishing mere thoughts and, therefore, it was not facially unconstitutional. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed.       


The appellate court concluded that because the appellee did not conclusively negate the appellant’s unsound mind-tolling theory, it was not entitled to summary judgment based on limitations.
Rollins v. S. Baptist Convention
Appellate: Civil, Procedure, Torts
Texas 1st Court of Appeals
February 25, 2021
01-19-00149-CV
Gordon Goodman
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, alleging that he was sexually abused by a member of the appellee’s executive committee. On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the appellee on the basis that the appellant’s claims against it were barred by limitations. The appellate court noted that the trial court ruled for the appellee on a single ground: limitations; and it was undisputed that the appellant raised the unsound mind-tolling exception in the trial court. The appellate court found that the appellant had preserved the issue for appellate review and the appellee bore the burden to prove that the appellant was of sound mind to obtain summary judgment. The appellate court determined that because the appellee did not conclusively negate the unsound-mind exception to limitations, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. The appellate court concluded that because the appellee did not conclusively negate the appellant’s unsound mind-tolling theory, it was not entitled to summary judgment based on limitations. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed and remanded.


The appellate court concluded that in light of the evidence illustrative of the defendant's violent character, the admission of two witnesses’ opinion testimony was harmless.
Seidule v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
February 25, 2021
14-20-00010-CR
Kevin Jewell
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court, challenging his murder conviction. The appellate court found that the trial court’s exclusion of the two witnesses’ evidence of the victim’s prior violent acts did not substantially injure the defendant's rights, and the error, if any, was harmless. The appellate court noted that the other evidence showed the defendant's violent character, which rendered the complained-of admitted evidence generally cumulative. The appellate court determined that the defendant admitted that he initially shot the victim while the victim stood, unarmed, at the kitchen sink. The appellate court concluded that in light of the evidence illustrative of the defendant's violent character, the admission of two witnesses’ opinion testimony was harmless. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The appellate court concluded that each side presented a significant amount of evidence on which the county intended to be her residence because the evidence was conflicted, and thus, the court could not substitute the court's judgment for the trial court’s.
Southcross Energy Partners GP, LLC v. Gonzalez
Appellate: Civil, Litigation: Personal Injury, Procedure, Real Property, Torts
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
February 24, 2021
04-18-00515-CV
Luz Elena D Chapa
Published
The appellant challenged the money judgment the trial court rendered in the appellees’ favor after a jury trial, seeking reversal and rendition of a take-nothing judgment. In response, the appellee cross-appealed the judgment, seeking reversal and a remand for a new trial. The appellate court found that applying the court's heightened standard of review, accounting for the undisputed facts in the case, and having thoroughly considered all of the evidence arguably relevant to the gross negligence finding, the court could not say the conscious indifference element of the jury’s gross negligence finding regarding the officer was supported by legally sufficient evidence. The appellate court was compelled to reverse the award of punitive damages, and although the cross appellants relied on the juror's testimony, the testimony of her mother and stepfather, and documentary evidence, there was conflicting evidence in the record. The appellate court concluded that each side presented a significant amount of evidence on which the county intended to be her residence because the evidence was conflicted, and thus, the court could not substitute the court's judgment for the trial court’s. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part, reversed, and rendered in part. 


The appellate court concluded that because the Declaratory Judgments Act neither created jurisdiction nor permitted the rendition of advisory opinions, the trial court properly dismissed the appellant's claim for declaratory relief.
Tex. Med. Res., LLP v. Molina Healthcare of Tex., Inc.
ADR, Constitution, Health Care, Insurance
Texas 5th Court of Appeals
February 23, 2021
05-19-01447-CV
David Schenck
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, claiming to have provided emergency medical care to more than 3,800 patients enrolled in the appellee's Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) plans. On appeal, the appellant sought judicial resolution of their claim that the appellee's reimbursement regime under Medicare–Medicaid programs, as implemented through the federal Affordable Care Act and corresponding federal and state regulations, was inadequate. The appellee filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting the appellants lacked standing to assert claims under the emergency care statute, the unfair settlement practices statute and the prompt payment statute. The appellate court found that the trial court did not err in dismissing the appellant's Section 1271.155 of the Texas Insurance Code claim. The appellate court noted that the appellant could not seek penalties under the prompt payment statute and thus the trial court did not err in dismissing the appellant's claim against the appellee for violation of the prompt payment statute. The appellate court concluded that because the Declaratory Judgments Act neither created jurisdiction nor permitted the rendition of advisory opinions, the trial court properly dismissed the appellant's claim for declaratory relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s order granting the appellee's Plea to the Jurisdiction.      


The appellate court concluded that the burden to demonstrate the specific reasons why the extraordinary writ of injunction was required under these circumstances was with the relators.
In re Alamo Defenders Descedants Ass'n
Appellate: Civil, Constitution, Procedure
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
February 23, 2021
08-20-00188-CV
Jeff Alley
Published
The relators appealed the judgment of the trial court, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to stop construction on the project, contending generally that the defendants were violating provisions of the Texas Health & Safety Code because the grounds contained a historically documented mission cemetery predating the relator as well as the physical remains of the relator's members’ ancestors. The appellate court found that according to a response from the Attorney General, current archaeological activities were taking place at the project site in accordance with a plan that was already approved by the THC, and any human remains found were either being left in situ or are being kept on-site in a sealed vault at the relator. The appellate court determined that there was no indication that there was an active threat to any human remains, and the association had not explained how the current archaeological arrangement was improper or inadequate such that immediate injunctive relief or relief pending the duration of appeal was necessary. The appellate court concluded that the burden to demonstrate the specific reasons why the extraordinary writ of injunction was required under these circumstances was with the relators. Accordingly, the writ was denied. 


The appellate court concluded that the trial court’s erroneous admission of the evidence recovered from the safe did not affect the defendant's substantial rights.
Barron v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
February 26, 2021
11-18-00324-CR
W. Stacy Trotter
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court after the defendant caused the victim’s death while under the immediate influence of sudden passion that arose from adequate cause and assessed his punishment at two years’ imprisonment in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. On appeal, the defendant challenged the trial court's sentence. The appellate court held that the State adduced sufficient evidence from which a rational trier of fact could have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the essential elements of murder and could have found against the defendant on his claim of self-defense. The appellate court could not conclude that the defendant was deprived of his right to a fair and impartial trial before a neutral and detached judge. The appellate court concluded that the trial court’s erroneous admission of the evidence recovered from the safe did not affect the defendant's substantial rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.


The trial court’s determination was within the zone of reasonable disagreement, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the surveillance videos.
Jackson v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
February 23, 2021
14-19-00168-CR
Meagan Hassan
Published
The defendant challenged his conviction for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. The appellate court found that conclusive proof of authenticity before the admission of disputed evidence was not required. The appellate court noted that Rule 901 only required some evidence sufficient to support a finding that the evidence at issue was what the proponent claims. The appellate court determined that the standard for admissibility was considered a liberal one and the State presented sufficient evidence to support a jury determination that the surveillance videos in the State’s exhibit were authentic. The appellate court concluded that the trial court’s determination was within the zone of reasonable disagreement, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the surveillance videos. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.


The appellate court concluded that the evidence was factually sufficient to prove the petitioner had the requisite behavioral abnormality under the SVP Act.
In re Cardova
Criminal, Health Care
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
February 22, 2021
08-18-00220-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The petitioner appealed the judgment of the trial court which entered a directed verdict finding that the petitioner was a repeat sexually violent offender and that the petitioner suffered from a behavioral abnormality that made him likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence. On appeal, the appellate court was asked to determine whether the petitioner was a sexually violent predator (SVP) for the purposes of Chapter 841 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. The appellate court found that although the court perceived that a long history of sexual offenses would be an aggravating factor, the court did not perceive the commission of three crimes in quick succession as a factor favoring the petitioner, and at the very least, the court did not find it to be a consideration that undermined the sufficiency of the evidence. The appellate court determined that the remaining evidence contrary to the behavioral-abnormality finding was so significant in light of the entire record such that the jury could not have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that its finding was true. The appellate court concluded that the evidence was factually sufficient to prove the petitioner had the requisite behavioral abnormality under the SVP Act. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.  


The appellate court determined that although the third lessee's lease did not terminate, it partially terminated seven years later, except as to the 160 acres surrounding the reclassified well.
PPC Acquisition Company LLC v. Del. Basin Res., LLC
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Damages, Procedure, Torts
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
February 19, 2021
08-19-00143-CV
Jeff Alley
Published
The lessees appealed the judgment of the trial court in a dispute over oil and gas interests that several parties had or did not have in three separate mineral leases on the same 640-acre section of land. On appeal, the lessees claimed to hold the 640 acres based on one producing well that was completed. The lessors contended that the failure to develop additional wells, the re-classification of the single well from gas to oil, and the failure to timely file a Form P-15 for that well, along with its limited designation of acreage, terminated the lease for all or at least part of the acreage in the section. The appellate court found that the first lessee's lease and the second lessee's lease did not terminate or partially terminate. The appellate court determined that although the third lessee's lease did not terminate, it partially terminated seven years later, except as to the 160 acres surrounding the reclassified well. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. 


The trial court did not violate the defendant's due process rights when it failed to appoint him counsel to assist him in filing his application for writ of habeas corpus.
Ex parte Rinehart
Constitution, Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 7th Court of Appeals
February 08, 2021
07-20-00219-CR
Judy C. Parker
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of one count of burglary of a building and found true to allegations of two prior felony convictions. On appeal, the defendant challenged the trial court's conviction and sentence to ten years’ incarceration, suspended for a period of ten years. The defendant further challenged the trial court’s denial of his application for writ of habeas corpus relief filed under article 11.072 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The appellate court noted that the original order placing the defendant on community supervision for a period of ten years was valid in a case involving a conviction for the offense of burglary of a building other than a habitation enhanced by two prior state jail felonies. The appellate court found that the determination that the original imposition of a ten-year period of community supervision was not invalid overruled certain of the defendant's arguments that were premised on his contention that the sentence was illegal. The appellate court concluded that the trial court did not violate the defendant's due process rights when it failed to appoint him counsel to assist him in filing his application for writ of habeas corpus. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.                                                                


The appellate court declined the appellants’ request to overturn, in the name of insufficient evidence, the jury’s verdict to the extent that it may award lost profit.
GRCDallasHomes LLC v. Caldwell
Appellate: Civil, Business, Contracts, Procedure, Real Property
Texas 2nd Court of Appeals
January 28, 2021
02-19-00406-CV
Wade J. Birdwell
Published
The appellants appealed the judgment of the trial court which found that the appellants had an agreement with the appellee but did not breach it. On appeal, the appellants challenged the jury's finding that the appellants held $563,000 in equity. The appellate court noted that a trial court has limited discretion to refuse a declaratory judgment and generally may do so only where judgment would not remove the uncertainty giving rise to the proceedings or where there was no justiciable controversy. The appellate court found that if there was to be a declaration, it must be that the note did not reflect a non-recourse arrangement, that retaining the property was not the appellee’s exclusive remedy, and that the provision did not preclude liability against the appellants. The appellate court declined the appellants’ request to overturn, in the name of insufficient evidence, the jury’s verdict to the extent that it may award lost profit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.              


The appellate court concluded that the appellant had not demonstrated any harm from the allocation of costs, even if that allocation was found to be erroneous.
Loftin v. Loftin
Appellate: Civil, Family, Juvenile, Procedure
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
February 05, 2021
08-19-00107-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which rendered a final decree of divorce dissolving the marriage between the appellant and the appellee, and determining issues concerning the care and custody of the couple’s two young daughters. The appellate court noted that insofar as the appellant challenged the exclusion of the appellee's exhibit, the appellant did not preserve any error because he never offered that exhibit into evidence and, as a consequence, the trial court never ruled to exclude it. The appellate court found that regardless of whether the trial court’s evidentiary ruling was in error, the appellant had not demonstrated any resultant harm. The appellate court determined that the trial court sustained the evidentiary objection asserted against the tender of the phone into evidence, yet the trial court also clarified that possession of the phone itself would remain with the court as agreed by the parties. The appellate court concluded that the appellant had not demonstrated any harm from the allocation of costs, even if that allocation was found to be erroneous. Accordingly, the final decree of divorce was affirmed.


The Supreme Court concluded that in the appellate court, the defendant challenged the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s finding of adverse possession and the appellate court did not reach those issues.
Brumley v. McDuff
Appellate: Civil, Damages, Evidence, Procedure, Real Property, Torts, Wills/Trusts/Probate
The Supreme Court of Texas
February 05, 2021
19-0365
Jane N. Bland
Published
The defendants appealed the judgment of the trial court which ruled that the plaintiffs held peaceable and adverse possession of the property for the requisite time. On appeal, the defendants challenged the legal and factual sufficiency of the plaintiffs’ evidence and the trial court’s denial of their jury questions. The Supreme Court noted that it examined the substance of the plaintiff’s petition not its form to determine whether it stated a trespass-to-try title action. The Supreme Court found that the record was replete with instances that confirmed that the defendant understood that the plaintiffs had alleged a claim of adverse possession. The Supreme Court concluded that in the appellate court, the defendant challenged the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s finding of adverse possession and the appellate court did not reach those issues. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed.


The evidence was legally insufficient to support the defendant's conviction for engaging in organized criminal activity; however, the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for the lesser included offense of delivery of a controlled substance.
Alfaro v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
February 04, 2021
14-19-00143-CR
Frances Bourliot
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence in support of the jury’s finding that he committed the offense of engaging in organized criminal activity. On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to prove an ongoing combination between himself and at least two others named in the indictment. The appellate court found that the evidence did not show any connection between the defendant and the first individual or the defendant and the second individual. The appellate court determined that the Rules of Appellate Procedure authorized the court to reform a judgment of conviction after a jury trial to reflect a conviction for a lesser included offense if the court determined the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction for the greater offense. The appellate court concluded that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the defendant's conviction for engaging in organized criminal activity; however, the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for the lesser included offense of delivery of a controlled substance in an amount of one gram or more but less than four grams. Accordingly, the court modified the trial court’s judgment to show a conviction for the lesser included offense.


The appellate court concluded that it was enough that the detective authenticated the photos and text messages that were obtained through the extraction, even without a proper Kelly v. State predicate.
Wright v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 2nd Court of Appeals
February 04, 2021
02-19-00395-CR
Wade J. Birdwell
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of aggravated robbery and sentenced him to fifty years’ confinement. The appellate court found that the detective effectively used a digital tool to bag up digital evidence. The appellate court noted that while the court was confident that the right experts could shed light on the many complex dimensions involved in that process, the court did not believe that an expert was required to demonstrate the reliability of each of those dimensions before the detective could testify that he simply copied data from one location to another. The appellate court concluded that it was enough that the detective authenticated the photos and text messages that were obtained through the extraction, even without a proper Kelly v. State predicate. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.  


The appellate court concluded that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the probate court’s award of attorney’s fees where no evidence was presented as to all required elements.
Mortensen v. Villegas
Appellate: Civil, Real Property, Wills/Trusts/Probate
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
February 01, 2021
08-19-00080-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court, contesting the dismissal of claims asserted in an heirship proceeding pending in a statutory probate court. On appeal, the appellant asserted claims against the appellees, as well as against other defendants who were not parties to the appeal. The appellate court noted that the appellant failed to raise a cause of action in which the probate court had subject-matter jurisdiction given his failure to allege a single claim that qualified as either a probate proceeding, as a matter related to a probate proceeding, or as one that triggered the probate court’s pendent and ancillary jurisdiction. The appellate court found that because the appellant failed to properly and timely object in the probate court that the fees lacked a legal basis, he failed to preserve error on that basis. The appellate court concluded that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the probate court’s award of attorney’s fees where no evidence was presented as to all required elements. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part, reversed, and remanded in part.


The appellate court dismissed the appellant’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction and in the objecting members’ appeal and affirmed the Order on Motion to Vacate Order Appointing Receiver or to Dissolve Receivership.
Chandy v. Kerala Christian Adult Homes, LLC
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Procedure, Real Property
Texas 5th Court of Appeals
February 01, 2021
05-20-00510-CV
Leslie Lester Osborne
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court which denied a motion to dissolve the receivership. On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial court’s order denying a motion to dissolve the receivership. The appellate court found that reviewing the trial court’s decision whether to terminate a receivership under an abuse of discretion standard, the court may not substitute our judgment for that of the trial court, and may reverse only when the court acted arbitrarily, unreasonably or without regard for any guiding rules or principles. The appellate court determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to vacate the receiver’s appointment or to dissolve the receivership and decide the objecting members’ sole issue against them. The appellate court dismissed the appellant’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction and in the objecting members’ appeal and affirmed the Order on Motion to Vacate Order Appointing Receiver or to Dissolve Receivership. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. 


The Texas Rules of the appellate Procedure did not allow an appellant to include in a reply brief a new issue in response to some matter pointed out in the appellee’s briefs but not raised by the appellant’s original brief.
Jennings v. Jennings
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Procedure, Real Property
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
February 03, 2021
04-19-00485-CV
Patricia O. Alvarez
Published
The appellants appealed the judgment of the trial court which granted the appellees’ traditional motion for summary judgment, ordered specific performance, and severed the order. The appellate court noted that in a Rule 11 Settlement Agreement, the parties and a limited partnership agreed to dissolve the partnership and partition the surface ownership of the Mira Flores Ranch, and the appellants repudiated the Agreement, and the appellees filed a traditional motion for summary judgment on their breach of contract action and sought specific performance of the Agreement. The appellate court found that the appellants waived the Agreement’s deadline to execute the dissolution documents and the appellees’ assertions met the DiGiuseppe v. Lawler pleading requirements. The appellate court determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted specific performance of the Agreement. The appellate court concluded that the Texas Rules of the appellate Procedure did not allow an appellant to include in a reply brief a new issue in response to some matter pointed out in the appellee’s briefs but not raised by the appellant’s original brief. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.


The appellate court concluded that the Department had shown that termination of the parental rights was in the child’s best interest, and therefore, there was no reversible error.
In re J.A.V.
Appellate: Civil, Family, Procedure
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
January 29, 2021
08-20-00181-CV
Yvonne T. Rodriguez
Published
The parents appealed the judgment of the trial court which terminated their parental rights to the child. On appeal, the parents challenged the trial court's termination of rights. The appellate court found that the Department established that the mother and the father both engaged in a course of endangering conduct necessary to trigger the Subsection (E) predicate for termination of their parental rights to the child. The appellate court concluded that the Department had shown that termination of the parental rights was in the child’s best interest, and therefore, there was no reversible error. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed. 


The appellate court concluded that its opinion, judgment, and mandate did not preclude the second plaintiff's claims—whether they were asserted by the second plaintiff or the company.
Eagle Supply & Mfg. L.P. v. Landmark Am. Ins. Co.
Appellate: Civil, Corporations, Insurance, Procedure
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
January 29, 2021
11-19-00016-CV
John M. Bailey
Published
The plaintiffs appealed the judgment of the trial court which denied two motions for summary judgment brought by the defendants with respect to the plaintiffs' claims. On appeal, the defendants asserted that the trial court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate claims brought directly against them by the injured party to access liability insurance coverage. The appellate court noted that the trial court agreed by entering orders that granted the defendants' motions to dismiss with prejudice all remaining claims brought by the plaintiffs. The appellate court excepted from the court's decision the second plaintiff's claims and any claims related to the assignment that the plaintiff asserted it had received from the company. The appellate court concluded that its opinion, judgment, and mandate did not preclude the second plaintiff's claims—whether they were asserted by the second plaintiff or the company. Accordingly, the appellee company and the second appellee company were not entitled to a dismissal with prejudice based upon the court's disposition of the prior appeal. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed and remanded.  


The Supreme Court concluded that subrogation permitted a lender to assert rights under a lien its loan had satisfied when the lender’s own lien was infirm.
PNC Mortgage v. Howard
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Procedure, Real Property, Torts
The Supreme Court of Texas
January 29, 2021
19-0842
Per Curiam
Published
The petitioner appealed the judgment of the trial court which declared the Bank of Indiana foreclosure void, leaving the respondents’ claims against the petitioner pending. On appeal, the petitioner challenged the trial court's declaration that the petitioner’s lien and note were unenforceable, and it rendered judgment that the petitioner took nothing on its claims against the respondents. The Supreme Court found that applying case law to the case, the appellate court erred in concluding that the petitioner’s failure to timely foreclose under the deed of trust barred its subrogation rights. The Supreme Court determined that the availability of better credit terms and interest rates could make refinancing an attractive financial tool for borrowers and subrogation operated as a hedge against the risk of refinancing the outstanding amount of an existing loan, opening the credit market to borrowers. The Supreme Court concluded that subrogation permitted a lender to assert rights under a lien its loan had satisfied when the lender’s own lien was infirm. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed and remanded. 


The Supreme Court concluded that the parties invited the court to consider other briefed issues that the appellate court did not reach, but the court declined to do so.
Patients Med. Ctr. v. Facility Ins. Corp.
Appellate: Civil, Corporations, Employment, Gov't/Administrative, Health Care, Insurance, Litigation: Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation
The Supreme Court of Texas
January 29, 2021
19-0533
Debra Ann H. Lehrman
Published
The respondent appealed the judgment of the trial court in a dispute arising out of a medical fee dispute between a petitioner, the health care provider, and the respondent, the worker’s compensation insurance carrier, over the proper amount of reimbursement for services rendered to a covered patient. On appeal, the respondent requested a contested case hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), which reached the same conclusion as the Division. The Supreme Court found that in a worker’s compensation medical fee dispute resolution proceeding, the burden of proof in a contested case hearing before SOAH was on the party seeking review of the Division’s initial medical fee dispute resolution (MFDR) decision. The Supreme Court determined that the appellate court erred in holding that the burden always and necessarily remained on the petitioner. The Supreme Court concluded that the parties invited the court to consider other briefed issues that the appellate court did not reach, but the court declined to do so. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and remanded. 


The appellate court agreed that there was nothing in the court's record that showed how the trial judge arrived at the segregation amount and the testimony offered no basis to do so.
Eggemeyer v. Hughes
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Procedure, Real Property
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
January 28, 2021
08-19-00002-CV
Jeff Alley
Published
The appellants appealed the judgment of the trial court in a boundary dispute that the individuals ostensibly settled with an agreement setting a common boundary based on the position of a fence, rock mounds, and several mesquite trees. On appeal, the appellants were convinced that the remnants of a fence, which also appeared on several old surveys, defined their property boundary. Conversely, the appellee relied on several rock monuments that marked section lines as the dividing boundary between the properties. The appellate court noted that the trial court agreed with the appellee and awarded him the disputed land, along with some, but not all, of the attorney’s fees that he sought. The appellate court found that the evidence was factually sufficient to support the trial court’s judgment as to the property line. The appellate court agreed that there was nothing in the court's record that showed how the trial judge arrived at the segregation amount and the testimony offered no basis to do so. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed and remanded. 


Because a Section 2001.038(a) suit challenged the facial validity of an agency rule, that must be the end of the inquiry and the appellate court reasoned that simply because VONT might under some circumstances be useful did not require that chiropractors be able to perform the test
Tex. Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners v. Tex. Med. Ass'n
Appellate: Civil, Ethics, Health Care, Procedure, Professional Responsibility
The Supreme Court of Texas
January 29, 2021
18-1223
Nathan L. Hecht
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court in a dispute arising prior to the Legislature's amendment of the evaluation provision of the Act to add the word "diagnose," so that the Act now authorized chiropractors to “diagnose, analyze, examine, or evaluate the biomechanical condition of the spine and musculoskeletal system.” The Supreme Court noted that the appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment invalidating the rules as authorizing diagnosis outside the statutory scope of chiropractic practice and the Medical Association made too much of the references to nerves in the Board’s definitions of musculoskeletal system and subluxation complex. The Supreme Court found that the respondent had not overcome the definitions presumption of validity by demonstrating that they contravene specific language in the Act or run counter to the Act’s objectives. The Supreme Court concluded that because a Section 2001.038(a) suit challenged the facial validity of an agency rule, that must be the end of the inquiry. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the appellate court in part and rendered judgment declaring that the challenged provisions were valid.  


The appellate court agreed with the plaintiff that the trial court erred in determining that the plaintiff failed to prove its compliance with the condition precedent set forth in the mortgage requiring a notice of default.
In re Marshall
Appellate: Civil, Contracts, Evidence, Procedure, Securities
Texas 4th Court of Appeals
January 27, 2021
04-20-00450-CV
Irene Rios
Published
The relators appealed the judgment of the trial court, asserting claims for an attempted hostile take-over by a minority shareholder of a medical waste disposal company. On appeal, the relators alleged that the shareholder attempted to trigger a buy-sell agreement to force the buy-out of the majority shareholders and the trial court abused its discretion by denying their motion to compel discovery from the real party in interest. The appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion by sustaining the shareholder's objections to requests for documents ten, eleven, thirteen through nineteen, and twenty-two. The appellate court determined that the trial court abused its discretion by sustaining the shareholder's objection that those requests sought documents that were confidential, proprietary and/or trade secrets. The appellate court agreed with the relators and concluded that they lacked an adequate remedy at law. Accordingly, the court conditionally granted the petition for writ of mandamus in part and denied in part.  


The appellate court concluded that considering the record evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court’s ruling and measuring the court’s ruling against the applicable criteria, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by setting bail at $200,000 in each cause.
Ex Parte McManus
Constitution, Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 7th Court of Appeals
January 26, 2021
07-20-00152-CR
Per Curiam
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted the defendant of felony evading arrest and granted the defendant’s application and motion and set bail at $200,000 in each cause. The appellate court noted that the trial court should also consider the existence of outstanding bonds, any aggravating circumstances alleged to have been involved in the charged offense, the nature of the crime, circumstances under which it was committed, the accused’s potential sentence, and the future safety of a victim of the alleged offense as well as the safety of the community. The appellate court found that it was reasonable to assume that, if released on a reduced amount of bail in each cause, the defendant might not appear for court when summoned as he did previously. The appellate court concluded that considering the record evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court’s ruling and measuring the court’s ruling against the applicable criteria, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by setting bail at $200,000 in each cause. Accordingly, the court denied the request for habeas relief.


The appellate court found that the trial court erred in denying the Department's plea to the jurisdiction because the appellee failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on an essential element of her prima facie case of retaliation.
Tex. Dep't of Motor Vehicles v. Bustillos
Appellate: Civil, Employment, Gov't/Administrative, Procedure, Workers' Compensation
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
January 25, 2021
08-18-00165-CV
Gina M. Palafox
Published
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (the Department) appealed the judgment of the trial court denying the Department's plea to the jurisdiction and the other sustaining objections asserted by the appellee to portions of the evidence attached to the plea. On appeal, the Department challenged the allegations that the Department retaliated against her for filing a workers’ compensation claim in violation of chapter 451 of the Texas Labor Code. The Department further asserted that the jurisdictional evidence of the case negated a prima facie case of retaliation and thus, the appellee had failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to retaliatory intent, as required to survive a jurisdictional plea. The appellate court found that the trial court erred in denying the Department's plea to the jurisdiction because the appellee failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on an essential element of her prima facie case of retaliation, or otherwise rebut the Department's legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for terminating her employment. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s denial of the Department's plea to the jurisdiction and dismiss the retaliation claim based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 


The instrument resulted from a gift, not a purchase contract and there were no negotiations in which the parties engaged, nor was there written confirmation of an “agreement” in which the reservation was clearly discussed or agreed upon.
Parker v. Jordan
Appellate: Civil, Procedure, Real Property, Wills/Trusts/Probate
Texas 8th Court of Appeals
January 21, 2021
08-19-00121-CV
Yvonne T. Rodriguez
Published
The executor appealed the judgment of the trial court in an action asserting trespass-to-try-title and declaratory judgment against the deceased's daughters to resolve a dispute concerning the breadth of a conveyance in a Gift Deed, executed by the deceased. On appeal, the executor filed the trespass to try title and declaratory judgment action. The appellate court noted that the instrument at issue resulted from a gift, not a purchase contract and there were no negotiations in which the parties engaged, nor was there written confirmation of an “agreement” in which the reservation was clearly discussed or agreed upon by the parties that would make knowledge of an omission of such a reservation in the deed “irrebuttable.” The appellate court found that even though the deceased’s remainder interest was “vested” by virtue of testator death and was therefore capable of being transferred because the individual's Life Estate had yet to expire, the remainder interest was still only a future ownership interest, which would not ripen into a present ownership interest until the individual’s death. The appellate court sustained the deceased's first issue, reversed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment to the first appellee daughter, and rendered judgment in the deceased's favor. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and rendered. 


The Supreme Court concluded that the appellate court's holding regarding standing was in direct conflict with Pike, and the holding affected the trial court’s consideration of the other issues it reached.
Cooke v. Karlseng
ADR, Appellate: Civil, Business, Damages, Procedure
The Supreme Court of Texas
January 22, 2021
19-0829
Per Curiam
Published
The petitioner appealed the judgment of the appellate court which vacated the arbitrator's award in favor of the petitioner. On appeal, the Supreme Court was asked to consider whether the appellate court erred in holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over claims of a limited partner for harm done to the partnership because he lacked standing to bring those claims individually. The parties went to arbitration and the trial court affirmed an award in the individual petitioner's favor. The Supreme Court noted that the petitioner filed a petition for review in the Court and the court decided Pike v. Texas EMC Management, LLC. The Supreme Court declined to do so and all the parties asked the court to address the issues the appellate court did not reach. The Supreme Court concluded that the appellate court's holding regarding standing was in direct conflict with Pike, and the holding affected the trial court’s consideration of the other issues it reached. Accordingly, the petitioner's petition was granted and the appellate court's decision was reversed and remanded. 


The appellate court concluded that the Appraisal District failed to show that summary judgment for the petitioner was precluded or established its right to summary judgment.
San Augustine Cnty. Appraisal Dist. v. Chambers
Appellate: Civil, Gov't/Administrative, Real Property, Tax
Texas 12th Court of Appeals
January 21, 2021
12-20-00128-CV
Greg Neely
Published
The Appraisal District appealed the judgment of the trial court, challenging the petitioner's protest asserting that the Appraisal District did not have authority to tax their mineral interests. On remand, the trial court granted the petitioner's motion and denied the Appraisal District's motion. The appellate court found that in the absence of cross-conveyancing, the petitioner did not own an interest in minerals located in other tracts in the pool, and therefore, the petitioner's interests lied in Shelby County. The appellate court found that the petitioner established entitlement to judgment as a matter of law and the Appraisal District had not, by the application of affirmative defenses or otherwise, raised an issue of material fact regarding whether it may assess taxes on the petitioner's interests. The appellate court concluded that the Appraisal District failed to show that summary judgment for the petitioner was precluded or established its right to summary judgment. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed.  


The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered that the child’s surname be changed to the father's surname.
In re G.L.H.
Appellate: Civil, Family, Juvenile, Procedure
Texas 11th Court of Appeals
January 22, 2021
11-19-00312-CV
W. Stacy Trotter
Published
The appellant appealed the judgment of the trial court in the suit affecting the parent-child relationship. On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial court's order that the surname of the appellant’s son was changed to the surname of his the father. The appellate court found that the evidence was both legally and factually sufficient to support the trial court’s finding that a change of surname was in the child’s best interest. The appellate court determined that the trial court made a reasonable decision based upon the evidence presented. The appellate court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered that the child’s surname be changed to the father's surname. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s order.  


The appellate court determined that the defendant was correct that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove an essential element of the offense under Jackson v. Virginia and he was therefore entitled to an acquittal.
Root v. State
Criminal, Evidence, Procedure
Texas 14th Court of Appeals
January 21, 2021
14-19-00075-CR
Meagan Hassan
Published
The defendant appealed the judgment of the trial court which convicted him of failing to comply with a sex offender registration requirement. The appellate court found that a material variance existed between the statutory allegations in the indictment and the proof, rendering the evidence insufficient to sustain the defendant's conviction. The appellate court noted that the defendant properly requested a directed verdict arguing that the State did not and could not prove that he failed to report his email address within seven days after his release from prison because he did not create his email address until after. The appellate court determined that the defendant was correct that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove an essential element of the offense under Jackson v. Virginia and he was therefore entitled to an acquittal. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s judgment.


Since the motion to dismiss submitted by the appellant’s counsel did not show that the appellant had waived her right to appeal in accordance with section 51.09 of the Family Code.
In re A.S.H.
Appellate: Civil, Family, Juvenile, Procedure
Texas 7th Court of Appeals
December 18, 2020
07-20-00267-CV
Lawrence M. Doss
Published
The appellant, a juvenile, appealed the judgment of the trial court which rendered orders of adjudication and disposition. On appeal, the appellant's counsel filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the appeal filed by the appellant’s counsel. The appellate court concluded that because the motion to dismiss submitted by the appellant’s counsel did not show that the appellant had waived her right to appeal in accordance with section 51.09 of the Family Code. Accordingly, the trial court denied the motion without prejudice to its refiling.