Lawmakers upended the state’s system of elected district court judges and regional intermediate appellate courts as business interests won a new court system for complex business disputes. The 2023 legislature rejected efforts to cut local governments out of public nuisance suits and weaken the state’s anti-SLAPP statute.
Legislation to create a new intermediate appellate court to hear cases involving state government and appeals from new business specialty courts advances as the legislative session starts to wind down.
House Bill 19 was amended during floor debate to target the new system for complex business cases towards urban areas where the courts have shifted in recent election cycles from Republicans to Democrats. The House rejected a proposed amendment to have the specialty court judges elected rather than appointed by the governor.
W. Mark Lanier, founder of The Lanier Law Firm, is recognized nationally for winning big personal injury and product liability claims against major corporations. But he also has represented clients in fraud, breach of contract and other forms of business litigation, the type of lawsuits that could be steered to a new system of business courts being considered by Texas lawmakers this year.
Lanier recently discussed his decision to publicly oppose the business court bill with The Texas Lawbook.
Debate is expected Monday on HB 19, controversial legislation to create a separate system of courts to hear high-dollar business disputes. The bill has emerged as a partisan issue, laments Mark Lanier, a high-profile trial lawyer and Republican donor who opposes the proposal. In other, less contentious, action, the House has voted to increase juror pay and raise the mandatory retirement age for judges.
The Texas Supreme Court rejected MRC Permian’s attempt to invoke a contract’s force majeure clause when it missed a deadline to drill a new well. MRC pointed to a well collapse at a different side for the delay, while Point Energy said MRC simply miscalculated the deadline.
A rare alliance between groups representing trial lawyers and defense counsel is raising constitutional questions and other concerns about legislation that would create a new system of trial and appellate courts for high-dollar business disputes. House Bill 19 appears on track for House floor debate as soon as next week.
The Texas Supreme Court decides a closely watched business case by finding that adoption of American Arbitration Association rules in oil and gas leases shows “clear and unmistakable” evidence of intent to arbitrate. A dissenting justice says the ruling will strip courts of power to decide whether a particular dispute falls outside the scope of an agreement to arbitrate.
The Supreme Court has reinstated Wal-Mart’s lawsuit against Xerox over $4 million in denied reimbursements for food purchases made during a prolonged outage of the electronic benefit transfer system.
As a Houston arbitrator and former appellate justice, Michael Massengale was the perfect lawyer for the Texas House investigatory committee to choose to help investigate and write the official report about that tragic day last May when so much went wrong and 19 children and two teachers were murdered. For the first time since the report was released, Massengale has given an in-depth interview to Texas Lawbook reporter Janet Elliott about his role in the investigation, the challenges he and the committee faced and his hopes for legislative improvements to police training and school safety.