On Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court issued an orders list in the afternoon, choosing three new cases for oral argument. The unusual timing is explained by the argument date chosen: February 10th. By issuing this mid-week order, the Court gives the parties the minimum 21 days notice that the rules expect for oral arguments.
now begins some idle speculation about the calendar…
The Court’s calendar shows the next private conference of the Justices is on February 16-17, 2016. And it shows the next argument sitting as March 8-10, 2016, with no cases yet assigned to those dates. Doing a little math… we might expect some grants to be announced on February 16th, to be argued on March 9th or March 10th.
Of course, the Court can adjust its calendar as it sees fit. But those counsel whose fully-briefed petitions are up for conference in February might want to keep some flexibility in their March calendars.
Cases set for oral argument
Untangling some issues related to individual and corporate standing
Linegar sued DLA Piper for a variety of claims, including fraud and legal malpractice, related to a business deal that went terribly wrong. The jury found in his favor. DLA Piper argues that Linegar actually lacks standing to bring these claims because the funds he lost were held in a corporate retirement account by Zaychan (a company Linegar) owns. According to DLA Piper, only Zaychan would have standing to bring suit. The court of appeals agreed with DLA Piper, dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction.
Linegar's petition argues that DLA Piper owed duties directly to him, and that he was "personally aggrieved" enough to satisfy the threshold for jurisdictional standing. Because this was Linegar's retirement account, he argues, only he was injured. He is not seeking to recover derivatively for corporate injuries.
The Court has granted the petition for review and set the case for argument in February. If that schedule holds, the Court should announce its decision by summer.
How early in the condemnation process can governmental immunity be invoked?
This dispute between two local governments has reached the Supreme Court on a fast track. The question relates to a very early step of the condemnation process: the court appointing special commissioners to make an initial evaluation of property value.
When Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) filed suit to condemn some land for a pipeline easement across land held by another local entity (Lazy W District No. 1), a plea to the jurisdiction was filed immediately, even before appointment of the special commissioners. The trial court declined to move forward until it could first resolve the question raised by the plea, whether it had subject-matter jurisdiction at all. At TRWD's request, the court of appeals granted mandamus relief ordering that the appointments be made immediately. Lazy W petitioned the Supreme Court, which issued a stay freezing proceedings below. It has now scheduled the petition for oral argument.
What litigation conduct will waive a mandatory forum-selection clause?
This is a dispute between Nationwide and one of its agents. The contract contained a mandatory forum-selection clause choosing Ohio (its corporate home) as the place where any suit should be filed.
In 2012, this lawsuit was filed. During 2013 and 2014, Nationwide filed a series of special exceptions, along with a motions to dismiss under Rule 91a and a motion for summary judgment. The trial court focused on the pleading issued, giving the plaintiffs an opportunity to amend, without disposing of any claims on the merits. In 2014, Nationwide conducted some limited amount of discovery. In 2015, Nationwide filed a motion to enforce the forum-selection clause. The trial court denied that request, concluding that Nationwide had substantially invoked the Texas court system. Nationwide has sought review by petition for mandamus, urging that the Texas case be dismissed.
The Texas Supreme Court has scheduled the petition for oral argument.