This morning, the Texas Supreme Court begins its October argument sitting. You can, as always, watch the live webcast or later review the oral argument videos on iTunes (link opens iTunes).

Each day has at least one case that may attract some public attention. On Tuesday, the Court hears a case involving a challenge to Texas’s use of electronic-voting machines. On Wednesday, the Court hears a case that could have huge effects on the calculation of child-support payments. On Thursday, the Court hears a petition that asks it to set new rules for discovery into defendants’ net worth, as well as a class action case about racially disparate impacts due to credit scoring by insurance companies.

(The net-worth-discovery case was dismissed before argument after the claims at issue were dropped.)

Tuesday October 12, 2010

  • Reid Road Municipal Utility District No. 2 v. Speedy Stop Food Stores, Ltd., No. 09‑0396 (DDB) (Justice Guzman not sitting). The law has generally permitted an individual property owner to testify about their opinion of the value of his or her own property, without requiring them to formally qualify as an expert witness. The question is whether that same exception applies to corporate property owners, permitting them to offer non-expert witnesses on this question.

  • Esperanza Andrade, in her official capacity as Secretary of State for the State of Texas v. NAACP of Austin, Nelson Linder, Sonia Santana, and David Van Os, No. 09‑0420 (DDB). The underlying suit is a challenge to the State’s use of electronic voting machines. The question on appeal is whether these plaintiffs have legal standing (including an individual injury) to challenge the Secretary of State’s approval of those machine.

  • In re Coy Reece, No. 09‑0520 (DDB). This mandamus petition challenges a trial court’s finding of criminal contempt against a party for lying during a deposition for failure to provide sufficient procedural protections.

Wednesday October 13, 2010

  • Jeremy Molinet v. Patrick Kimbrell, M.D. and John Horan, M.D., No. 09-0544 (DDB). This case asks how the statute of limitations applies to doctors named as “responsible third parties” by a defendant in a medical-malpractice action, when the first doctor did not name them until the time for filing a direct suit against them would have expired.

  • James Derwood Iliff v. Jerilyn Trije Iliff, No. 09-0753 (DDB). This could be an important case for anyone in a profession with a wide range of earning potential (such as law). The question is whether a voluntary choice to leave a high-paying job for personal reasons constitutes “intentional … underemployment” such that child support would be calculated based on the person’s potential rather than actual income.

  • The City of Houston v. Steve Williams, et al., No. 09-0770 (DDB). This case asks how a dispute over the calculation of benefits for city firefighters is affected by sovereign immunity.

Thursday October 14, 2010

  • Jose Carreras, M.D., P.A. v. Carlos Francisco Marroquin, et al., No. 09‑0857 (DDB). This appeal asks whether the medical-malpractice tolling statute is triggered by a pre-suit notice that otherwise complies with the statute but fails to include an authorization form for the release of medical records.

* In re Mark A. Jacobs, M.D., Debra C. Gunn, M.D. and Obstretical and Gynecological Associates, P.A., No. 09-0942 (DDB). This mandamus petition challenges an order requiring discovery of a defendant’s net worth. The defendants contend that, because net worth is generally not relevant to tort actions, there must some formal factual demonstration that exemplary damages (for which net worth is relevant) might be available.

Updated: It has been pointed out to me that the In re Jacobs mandamus petition had already been dismissed by the Court before my post. My apologies for not noticing that, or noting it on the blog before.

  • Patrick O. Ojo, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated v. Farmers Group, Inc.; Fire Underwriters Association; Fire Insurance Exchange; Farmers Underwriters Association; Farmers Insurance Exchange, No. 10-0245 (DDB). This class-action suit comes to the Texas Supreme Court as a certified question from the Ninth Circuit. The question is whether Texas law provides a claim against an insurer for using credit scoring in a manner that has a racially discriminatory impact.