Decisions

Most Viewed Decisions

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS EIGHTH DISTRICT EL PASO

TEMPORARY ALTERNATIVES, INC., d/b/a dmDICKASON PERSONNEL SERVICES OF EL PASO, Appellant, v. MISTI K. JAMROWSKI, Appellee.

The appellant seeks to compel arbitration against a former employee who filed suit in district court. The agreement is illusory. By reserving itself the plenary power to unilaterally alter or terminate the agreement at any point prior to formal arbitration without allowing the appellee the opportunity to avail herself of the procedure to which she initially agreed, the appellant retained the power to avoid arbitration altogether. The trial court's denial of arbitration is affirmed. El Paso Court of Appeals, No. 08-13-00166-CV, 05-21-2014

Practice Areas: Alternative Dispute Resolution , Arbitration (ADR)

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS EIGHTH DISTRICT EL PASO

COUNTY OF EL PASO, TEXAS and EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, Appellants, v. LISA LATIMER, Appellee.

A county argues that due to the untimeliness of her whistleblower suit, the appellee failed to comply with the jurisdictional elements of her cause of action, thus, the trial court lacked jurisdiction over her claims. When it is unclear whether an employer has a post-termination grievance procedure, the terminated employee's notice to the employer that he believes that an adverse personnel action was taken against him due to a good faith report of a violation of the law by the governmental entity, if made within 90 days, is sufficient to toll the limitations period of Texas Government Code §554.005. The trial court's order denying the appellant's plea to the jurisdiction is affirmed. El Paso Court of Appeals, No. 08-13-00082-CV, 05-21-2014

Practice Areas: Labor and Employment

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT, HOUSTON

IN RE CLIFFORD HALL, Relator

The relator challenges a commitment order issued after his alleged failure to pay child support. The repeal of Texas Family Code §157.162(d), which was effective June 14, 2013, was retroactive as it applied to contempt hearings held on or after that date, rather than on actions filed after that date. On the dates that relator allegedly committed the acts of contempt (failing to pay the child support timely), he had the "affirmative defense" of payment. The repeal did not violate the relator's substantive protections in this case because relator had the ability to take advantage of that affirmative defense before its repeal. The relator's petition for writ of habeas corpus is granted with respect to a single alleged failure to make a payment, the remainder of the petition is denied. Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, No. 14-14-00062-CV, 05-28-2014

Practice Areas: Family Law

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

In the Matter of: PLACID OIL CO., Debtor;JIMMY WILLIAMS, SR.; JIMMY WILLIAMS, JR.; DALTON GLEN WILLIAMS; JEANETTE WILLIAMS SHOWS; GWENDOLYN WILLIAMS PEACOCK, Individually and on Behalf of the Deceased, Myra Williams, Appellants v. PLACID OIL COMPANY, Appellee

The plaintiffs brought tort claims against a debtor in connection with the allegedly asbestos-related illness and death of a family member. The bankruptcy court granted the debtor's motion for summary judgment, and the district court affirmed. The law does not require that a creditor serve upon the debtor a formal complaint in order to make himself reasonably ascertainable or known. However, at a minimum, the debtor must possess specific information about a manifested injury, to make the claim more than merely foreseeable. Because a bar date notice need not inform unknown claimants of the nature of their potential claims, the debtor's notices were substantively sufficient to satisfy due process. The district court's judgment is affirmed. 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-11120, 05-27-2014

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, NINTH DISTRICT, BEAUMONT

IN RE COMMITMENT OF DAVID DODSON

The appellant challenges a civil commitment order. Conditions including restriction to a facility, where some temporary supervised trips are allowed, and the wearing of a leg monitor, are not necessarily punitive. Subjecting a person to ineffective treatments does not necessarily mean that the treatments are punishment. The Sexually Violent Predator statute is a civil statute that is not punitive. Therefore, the application of the SVP statute to the appellant does not violate the prohibition against the enactment of a retroactive law. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Beaumont Court of Appeals, No. 09-13-00222-CV, 05-29-2014

Practice Areas: Constitutional Law

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee v. REGON HOLLIS HILL, Defendant - Appellant

The appellant challenges a search that resulted in his conviction for alleged possessing a firearm and ammunition after having been convicted of a felony. The appellant and a passenger were approached by police while they sat in a car parked in the lot of an apartment building, on a weekend night. They were not offending any traffic ordinance; there was no evidence of recent crimes in the neighborhood, no reason to suspect that the appellant or his passenger were wanted by the police, and no other reason to believe that anything unusual was taking place. That the encounter occurred at night in a county alleged to be a high crime area does not support a suspicion of criminal activity. That the passenger exited the car rapidly and took steps towards the apartment did not provide reason to suspect criminal activity. The trial court's denial of the motion to suppress is reversed and the conviction and sentence are vacated. U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-60095, 05-29-2014

Practice Areas: Criminal Law

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS FIRST DISTRICT HOUSTON

BUFFY M. LAWRENCE, Appellant v. THE REYNA REALTY GROUP, Appellee

A real estate broker sued the appellant to recover a broker's commission in connection with the sale of the appellant's home. The broker's late notification to the Real Estate Commission does not bar his recovery of a commission. Because the appellant acknowledged in writing a continuation of the listing agreement under which the broker performed, the listing agreement's integration clause and the appellant's statute-of-frauds defense did not bar the jury's consideration of whether the listing agreement between the parties remained, subject to a modification of its duration or ratification of work done post-termination. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Houston's 1st Court of Appeals, No. 01-13-00819-CV, 05-15-2014

Practice Areas: Contracts

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS FIFTH DISTRICT DALLAS

ROY RODGERS, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

A jury found the appellant guilty of alleged continuous sexual abuse of a young child and assessed punishment at seventy years' imprisonment. During the punishment phase, the trial court received information from the jury foreman, through the bailiff, that the original verdict of guilty of indecency with a child was not the decision of the jury. Instead, as affirmed by the jury foreman and every other juror after polling, the jury unanimously intended to find appellant guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a young child. The trial court did not err by permitting the jury to correct its verdict during the punishment phase. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-12-01472-CR, 05-22-2014

Practice Areas: Criminal Law

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS EIGHTH DISTRICT EL PASO

MARRS AND SMITH PARTNERSHIP and RICKEY SMITH, Appellants/Cross-Appellees, v. SOMBRERO OIL AND GAS COMPANY, L.L.C., Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

This is a breach of contract action involving an oil and gas lease. The trial court did not err in awarding attorney's fees to the appellee sought pursuant to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 38. Because the appellee pleaded that all conditions precedent had been met, the appellants were obligated to specifically deny that the appellee failed to present its contract claim as required by Chapter 38. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. El Paso Court of Appeals, No. 08-12-00372-CV, 05-16-2014

Practice Areas: Contracts

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

BENJAMIN OROZCO, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CRAIG PLACKIS, Defendant-Appellant.

The appellant owns a franchisor of restaurants. An employee, claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act sued the owners of a franchise, who settled, and the appellant. The appellee failed to produce legally sufficient evidence to satisfy the economic-reality test and thus failed to prove that the appellant was his employer under the FLSA. The magistrate judge's denial of judgment as a matter of law is reversed and rendered. 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-50632, 07-03-2014

Practice Areas: Labor and Employment