With today’s orders list, the Texas Supreme Court decided four cases and granted one new case for argument this fall.

Today’s decisions

  • Nafta Traders, Inc. v. Margaret A. Quinn, No. 08-0613 (DB). The opinion for a unanimous Court was delivered by Justice Hecht. Chief Justice Jefferson wrote a concurrence. You can read more in the next post…

  • BP America Production Co., et al. v. Stanley G. Marshall, Jr., et al., No. 09-0399 (Lehrmann, J.) (DB). The allegations were that BP had fraudulently concealed its development of certain mineral interests from the rightful owners, thus extending the time in which a suit could be filed. The wrinkle here is that the facts of the drilling operations were disclosed in public filings. The Court concluded that (1) the facts could have been discovered by reasonable diligence on the part of the owners, and (2) that the doctrine of fraudulent concealment could not be used to extend the statute of limitations if the party being defrauded should reasonably have discovered the fraud.

  • Genesis Tax Loan Services, Inc. and Suzanne Frossard, Trustee v. Kody and Janet Kothmann and Kody Kothmann, Trustee, No. 09-0828 (Hecht, J.) (DB). This was a challenge to the validity of a tax lien that had been transferred. The Court rejected the technical objections to its validity (among others: a photocopy had been filed rather than the original and the stamp was from a notary rather than the tax official). Interpreting these requirements too strictly, the Court concluded, might actually undermine the goals of the filing system. The Court also gave some guidance to future litigants in lien disputes: Don’t just prove up your own lien and rest. Instead, you have to show that the competing liens are junior. (( From Part II: “[A] plaintiff must do more to prevail than simply offer evidence of the date of its own lien and rest. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant’s competing lien is junior. The general denial of the plaintiff’s claim puts the entire matter at issue. Pleading an affirmative defense is required to raise a matter of avoidance, “an independent reason why the plaintiff should not recover.” The defense that a plaintiff’s lien is not superior as alleged is not an independent reason to deny recovery; it goes to the heart of the plaintiff’s case.” ))

  • Harris Methodist Fort Worth v. Jo Fawn Ollie, No. 09-0025 (per curiam) (DB). Does a patient’s claim that they slipped on a wet floor fall within the Texas medical-malpractice statute? Yes, it does.

Today’s new grant

  • Atmos Energy Corporation, Centerpoint Energy Resources Corp. and Texas Gas Service Co. v. The Cities of Allen, et al., No. 10-0375 (DB). The core issue in the petitions filed by these gas utilities is whether the Railroad Commission has jurisdiction to review a municipality’s decision to reject a rate schedule filed by a gas utility. The cities filed a petition that agrees in part (( See page 4 of the cities’ petition. )) — although they believe that the Commission should have given the city’s complaints a more complete hearing.