With today’s orders list, the Texas Supreme Court chose five petitions for argument this fall and issued one opinion.

The Court also granted a joint request to dismiss in ENTERPRISE PRODUCTS PARTNERS, L.P. AND DIXIE PIPELINE COMPANY v. CATHERINE MITCHELL, ET AL., No. 11-0366 , a case that was argued last December and has been abated since May 2013.

Grants

  • WASTE MANAGEMENT OF TEXAS, INC. v. TEXAS DISPOSAL SYSTEMS LANDFILL, INC., No. 12-0522 : The case is about defamation of a business. One issue is whether a corporation can invoke the doctrine of defamation per se, and if so, what proof of damages it must offer. Another is the level of proof that is legally sufficient to show actual malice. set for December 3

  • ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY v. MICHAEL SPELLINGS, ET AL., No. 12-0824 : The petition asks whether equitable subrogation allows an insurer to seek recovery from “the alcohol-providing, drag-racing tortfeasors who caused the accident.” set for December 3

  • IN RE FORD MOTOR COMPANY, No. 12-0957 : The mandamus petition argues that the trial court should have dismissed for forum non conveniens where a car accident took place in Mexico, its occupants were citizens and residents of Mexico, and the connection to Texas was the residence of a wrongful-death beneficiary. set for December 3

  • MCALLEN HOSPITALS, L.P. D/B/A MCALLEN MEDICAL CENTER v. STATE FARM COUNTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF TEXAS, No. 12-0983 : The petition involves the Texas statute governing the liens that hospitals can place over settlement proceeds to injury victims (Texas Property Code chapter 55). set for December 4

  • THE CITY OF WATAUGA v. RUSSELL GORDON, No. 13-0012 : The petition asks whether an officer’s act in handcuffing someone is an “intentional” act under the Texas Tort Claims Act, noting a split among the courts of appeals for similar questions. set for December 4

Opinion

Today’s opinion was a follow-up to last month’s decision in TEXAS COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY v. CITY OF WACO, No. 11-0729 .

The Court describes this as a “companion case” to last month’s TEXAS COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY v. CITY OF WACO, No. 11-0729 decision.

The dispositive issue was the same: whether an entity could demand a contested-case hearing before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about whether a permit change sought by a local dairy operation would adversely impact water quality.

Here, the entity seeking a hearing was Bosque River Coalition, a group that opposed the permit. The Court notes that the group “did not exist at the time” the Commission was receiving public comments. Instead, it adopted the City of Waco’s comments as the basis for its objection.

The Bosque River Coalition argued that three of its members were themselves “affected persons” who could demand a contested-case proceeding because they owned property downstream from this dairy.

The Court held that the statutory construction it found in Chapter 26 of the Water Code in City of Waco compelled the same result here. It reversed and rendered judgment for the Commission, holding that no contested-case hearing was required.