Current (and past) cases featured in the press. This may not become a regular feature of the blog, but here are some articles I saw this week that didn’t yet warrant their own separate posts.
In re Cerda, No. 08-0028. In the
firstelection-related case to reach the Texas Supreme Court this year, three firefighters from Fort Worth filed a petition for writ of mandamus on Friday against the Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party to require him to remove Wendy Davis from the primary ballot for Texas Senate District 10. Somewhat unusually, the relators are voters asking the Court to remove the only candidate for Senate District 10 from their primary ballot. The Court has asked for a response by this Friday, January 18th, at 10:00 am. Article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The relators’ press release and the mandamus petition itself were published on Quorum Report. [Updated 1-14-2008: Another election-related mandamus was filed earlier the same day. See this post for more.] [Updated 1-14-2008, 2:15 P.M.: The Texas Supreme Court denied this mandamus today. See this post for more.]
After the Texas Supreme Court reversed and remanded in the breach-of-contract case Pyramid Constructors, Inc v. Port-Neches Grove I.S.D., No. 04-0737, the case eventually went to trial resulting in a $460,000 attorney’s fee award — but no contract damages — against the school district. The article is in the South East Texas Record.
This week’s installment (the blog’s first) of “We’re taking it all the way to the Supreme Court!” Highlighting a lower court case in which the parties have already said as much.
The City of Waco tells KCEN television in Waco (yes, there is a video) that it may appeal an adverse ruling from the Tenth Court of Appeals to the Texas Supreme Court. Here’s the 10th COA Opinion. The opinion notes that “Chief Justice Gray dissents without a separate opinion but notes that there are many reasons he can join no part of the majority opinion or judgment.”
The case concerns whether the Recreational Use Statute (part of the Texas Tort Claims Acts) extends the waiver of immunity to injuries caused when a person fell from a cliff. The City of Waco argued that liability was precluded under the Texas Supreme Court’s precedents Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217 (Tex. 2004), State v. Shumake, 199 S.W.3d 279 (Tex. 2006), and Stephen F. Austin State University v. Flynn, 228 S.W.3d 653 (Tex. 2007), because the City of Waco was not itself involved in creating this dangerous condition. The Tenth Court disagreed with the City’s reading of those cases and instead held that it:
must determine whether Kirwanâ€™s allegations of structurally unstable cliff rock constitute a hidden or latent condition for which a premises defect claim may be brought. The City argues that â€œthe recreational user needs no warning to appreciate the dangers of walking or sitting on crumbling limestone â€˜more than 60 feetâ€™ above the ground at the base of the cliff.â€ According to the City, the ground was not composed of â€œsolid rock ground,â€ as evidenced by crumbing rocks depicted in its photographs. In his affidavit, Black described Circle Point Cliff as consisting of â€œloose rock and natural cracks.â€ He stated that the â€œdanger of slipping on the loose rock and falling off the cliff, as well as the danger that the limestone could continue to crack, should have been obvious to anyone who might walk or sit on the limestone cliff.â€
The court of appeals concluded that the condition was not obvious enough to support summary judgment for the City.
The case also involves a dispute over the adequacy of the City’s warning. The City built what the opinion calls “a low wall obstructing access to the cliff” and posted a sign “for your safety do not go beyond wall.” The court of appeals held that “these signs not only fail to warn of structurally unstable ground, but they fail to warn of any potential hazard.”