On Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Supreme Court issued orders granting six new cases for argument. Three were set for argument March 1, 2011; the other three have not yet been assigned an argument date. (You saw the tweet about it, right?)

What issues were granted? Takings, takings, patent law (( Yes, in state court — that’s actually the question. No, the answer isn’t obvious. )), specificity of new-trial orders, whether a notarized statement is admissible in an administrative proceeding, and yet another case about the scope of the health-care liability statute.

The pattern holds from last month of the Court waiting until about 21 days before the argument date before filling its calendar. (( Normally, the Court issues grants of review with its regular Friday orders list. These mid-week orders may in part be a result of the new way that the Court has arranged its calendar. The Court may also be catching up from issuing relatively few grants during the fall. ))

Three cases set for March 1, 2011

  • Texas Rice Land Partners Ltd. and Mike Latta v. Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas LLC, No. 09-0901 (DDB). Does this pipeline company — which agreed with the Railroad Commission to carry other people’s products as well as its own — qualify as a “common carrier” so as to be granted eminent domain powers under Texas law? [Rescheduled for April 19, 2011]

  • FPL Farming Ltd. v. Environmental Processing Systems L.C., No. 09‑1010 (DDB). This case is about wastewater injected underground and, when it migrates to a neighboring property, whether that is a trespass. Other issues are whether the permit that authorized the injection creates a shield from liability and whether its issuance was a taking.

  • Vernon F. Minton v. Jerry W. Gunn, et al., No. 10‑0141 (DDB). A question here is whether an unsettled patent-law question that’s folded into a Texas legal malpractice claim is beyond the reach of Texas courts to resolve.

Three cases granted for a future argument date

  • Basith Ghazali, M.D. v. Patricia Brown, No. 10-0232 (DDB). Does the health-care liability act (you know, all the expert-witness-report requirements and the like) apply to laser hair removal?

  • Texas Department of Public Safety v. Stephen Joseph Caruana, No. 10-0321 (DDB). Was an officer’s notarized statement admissible in a license-revocation hearing?

  • In re United Scaffolding Inc., No. 10-0526 (DDB). Was the trial court’s order granting a new trial specific enough? (( Osler McCarthy’s email announcement of the grants also included the text of the trial court’s order, so you can form an opinion for yourself:

After re-considering Plaintiff James and Lisa Levine’s Motion for New Trial, the Court GRANTS the motion and orders New Trial based upon:
A. The jury’s answer to question number three (3) is against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence; and/or
B. The great weight and preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that the determined negligence of Defendant was a proximate cause of injury in the past to Plaintiff, James Levine; and/or
C. The great weight and preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that the determined negligence of Defendant supports an award of past damages; and/or
D. In the interest of justice and fairness