As I speculated last Friday, the Court did issue a mid-week orders list with grants today for its early February argument calendar.

The surprise is that some of today’s grants are going to be heard on February 27, 2014 at a special sitting in Hillsboro. The Court has chosen two cases for that day, which is typical for days when it travels to hear oral argument.

The Court calendar lists February 25 and 26 as potential argument dates as well, but no cases have (yet) been set for those dates. With no private conferences between now and February 11, today’s may be the last set of grants to be argued this Term.

New Grants

Six cases were chosen for argument. In the interest of getting this post out quickly, I’m borrowing Osler McCarthy’s summaries of the issues.

February 5, 2014

  • Rahul K. Nath, M.D. v. Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, No. 12-0620 : “The principal issues in this appeal from client sanctions for alleged litigation abuse are (1) whether Dr. Nath waived his challenge to the sanctions in the Supreme Court; (2) whether the sanctions — more than $1.3 million for attorney fees for two defendants — were unbridled; and (3) whether the sanctions violate constitutional protections established in TransAmerican Natural Gas Corp. v. Powell.

  • Marcia Fuller French, et al. v. Occidental Permian Ltd., No. 12-1002 : “In this case contesting the royalty value of minerals recovered by carbon-dioxide-injection, the principal issues are (1) whether the gas should be valued in its ‘native’ state, before extraction, or at the wellhead commingled with CO2; (2) whether removing, compressing and transporting CO2 should be classified as production operations; and (3) whether CO2 removal at an off-site processing plant for reuse is a production or post-production operation.”

February 6, 2014

  • City of Houston v. Shayn A. Proler, No. 12-1006 : “Principal issues in this employment-discrimination suit are (1) whether a fire captain’s reassignment as unfit from “fire suppression” work to training duties — allegedly because he avoided firefighting — constituted unlawful discrimination without a medical evaluation and (2) whether the trial court properly gave injunctive relief without a damages award and the city, in response to an arbitration order, returned him to firefighting duty before he filed his lawsuit.”

  • In re State Bar of Texas, No. 13-0161 : “In this mandamus action related to disciplinary proceedings against prosecutors for withholding exculpatory evidence, a principal issue is whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying the commission’s use of a partial criminal-trial transcript from an expunged case.

February 27, 2014 (Hillsboro)

  • Ashish Patel, Anverali Satani, Nazira Momin... v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, et al., No. 12-0657 : “The principal issues in this challenge to state regulation of ‘eyebrow threaders’ as cosmetologists are (1) whether the state has immunity from declaratory-judgment claims raising constitutional challenges to statutes; (2) whether the suit is capable of judicial disposition, on standing or ripeness grounds or by seeking redundant remedies; and (3) whether this due-course-of-law challenge under the Texas Constitution should be evaluated under a ‘real and substantial’ test and not by a rational-basis analysis.

  • Gilbert Wheeler, Inc. v. Enbridge Pipelines (East Texas), L.P., No. 13-0234 : “In this case by landowners seeking property damages for violation of a pipeline right-of-way easement agreement, the principal issues are (1) whether the cost to restore the property is the proper damages measure in this contract-breach case and (2) whether the appeals court erred by holding that the landowners waived their claims by failing to submit a jury question on the nature of the property injury.”