With today’s orders list, the Texas Supreme Court issued nine sets of opinions and granted three new cases for review.

This post discusses the new grants. (A post about the opinions will follow. If you want to read the raw opinions, they are collected here.)

New cases to be argued January 4, 2011

  • Texas A&M University – Kingsville v. Melody Yarbrough, No. 09‑0999 (DDB).

    This case concerns the faculty-grievance procedures at Texas A&M University — which do not permit a third party to review a supervisor’s written evaluation of a tenure-track candidate — satisfy Texas Government Code §617.005, as well as some tricky sovereign-immunity questions about how those procedures can be challenged in the courts. A sleeper issue in the case may be mootness, as the plaintiff actually did receive tenure at the school.

  • Lancer Insurance Co. v. Garcia Holiday Tours, Louis Garcie, Raul Garcia, Oscar Perez, II, Danielle Calhoun, Adriana Riojas, Juan Gabriel Gonzalez, Marisol Salazar, Raul Guerra, Jr., Maria E. Guerra and John A. Vela, Jr., No. 10‑0096 (DDB). Quoting from one of the briefs: “This is a business auto insurance coverage case involving passengers of a bus who allegedly contracted tuberculosis from the bus’s driver.”

    One question is whether transmission of a disease “results from the use of” the covered vehicle. Another is whether the policy’s definition of “sickness” as an element of bodily injury might include disease transmission.

  • In re State of Texas, No. 10‑0235 (DDB).

    The State started to condemn a 40-acre plot of land in Travis County that will be used for the construction of one of the new toll roads (SH 130). Right before the hearing, the owner subdivided the parcel and sold off pieces to a variety of new legal owners (including LLCs through which the original owners held an interest).

    The trial court severed the original condemnation into eight separate actions. With this petition for writ of mandamamus, the State argues that severing the trial into eight parts will undermine the orderly condemnation process.

Looking ahead

These are the first three cases the Court has chosen for its three-day January argument sitting. As of now, there are no cases set for January 5, 2011 or January 6, 2011. And there is very little time left before then. (I would not be surprised to see one or both of those argument dates quietly disappear from the online calendar.)

I’ll take a closer look at this term’s statistics later, but it looks as if the Court is continuing its trend of being very choosy about which cases it sets for argument. The Court has had no shortage of candidates for grants; with today’s orders list, the Court denied review in a significant number of petitions for review and pending motions for rehearing.