Tasked with implementing new laws creating a business court system for complex, expensive litigation, the Texas Supreme Court is gauging whether the state’s law schools might want to provide courtroom space. With 10 new trial courts and an intermediate appellate court coming online next September, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht discusses logistics and substantive issues the court is considering during its rulemaking process. Meanwhile, the chief justices for the 14 courts of appeals are identifying cases involving state government for likely transfer to the new Fifteenth COA, which will have exclusive jurisdiction over those cases and appeals from the business courts.
In this edition of Litigation Roundup, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sides 2-1 with a group of small refineries challenging an EPA decision to deny their requested exemptions from certain obligations under the Clean Air Act, the founder of SAExploration reaches a settlement with the SEC in a $100 million fraud case and private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe XI moves to toss an FTC monopoly suit lodged against it.
After hearing six days of testimony, a jury in the Northern District of Texas unanimously sided with Computer Sciences Corporation and found the company was entitled to $70 million in actual damages for Tata Consultancy Services’ misappropriation of its proprietary source code and $140 million in exemplary damages because the misappropriation was willful and malicious.
An amici army 40 strong, led by dating app Bumble Inc. and joined by Match Group, SXSW, Amalgamated Bank, Central Presbyterian Church, a handful of boutique law firms, doctors and hospitality companies, filed their brief with the Texas Supreme Court Monday, about a week before the court is slated to hear oral arguments in Texas v. Zurawski. But the business community is far from the only voice trying to persuade the Texas Supreme Court. A group of 20 states filed an amicus brief, as did a group of 90 Texas legislators and a handful of national women’s rights organizations.
One Nation Under Insurance: The Insurance Industry’s Hold on Our Country, Our State and Our Pocketbooks – Part 2 – The Claims Practices Statute
The Prompt Payment of Claims Act is a statute ostensibly enacted to provide enforcement mechanisms for Texas businesses, among others, and their lawyers in transactions between insurance companies and their policyholders. But significant changes in the potential penalties for failing to timely investigate and pay policy benefits have been favorable to foreign insurance companies and harmful to Texas businesses.
Litigation Roundup: Baylor Wins Licensing Dispute, Louisiana Bar Admonished by 5th Circuit for Speech
In this edition of Litigation Roundup, the Austin appellate court rejects Texas’ bid to cut two qui tam whistleblowers out of their share of a $236 million settlement with Xerox, the Fifth Circuit finds Tesla’s uniform policy does not run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act and two Dallas pain doctors are indicted in a $12 million fraud scheme.
Melinda Abbt was awarded about $130,000 in mental anguish and exemplary damages and about $120,000 in attorney fees Thursday by a Harris County jury that agreed her former direct supervisor at the Houston Fire Department had unlawfully shared an intimate video of her with a fellow firefighter in 2007. Abbt didn’t find out about the disclosure until 2017 and filed suit the next year. She was unable to return to work after learning the video she made for her husband had been circulated.
A new antitrust lawsuit filed in Texas names more than 30 real estate companies and associations across the state that home sellers QJ Team and Five Points Holdings allege have participated in a conspiracy developed by the National Association of Realtors that saddles home sellers with costs that should be borne by buyers. The proposed class action lawsuit alleges the practice results in inflated commissions and increased home prices. Last month in a similar lawsuit, a federal jury issued a $1.78 billion verdict to the sellers of about 260,000 homes in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois.
A jury that heard three days of testimony in a contentious lawsuit where attorney Justin Pfeiffer was seeking $32,000 in back wages from his former firm, Berg & Androphy, unanimously decided after about an hour of deliberations Monday that no employment contract agreement existed between the parties. The lawsuit pitted Pfeiffer, now a partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, against Houston trial lawyer David Berg.
Litigation Roundup: Client Sues Winston; SCOTUS Clears Path for Environmental Suit; McKool Awarded $4.7M in Fees
Last week was business for lawyers and judges inside the courtroom and publicly. Texas voters by a nearly two-to-one margin rejected Proposition 13, which would have raised the mandatory retirement age for state judges from 75 to 79. In litigation, two energy companies sued Winston & Strawn for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty; The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt an environmental trial set to start later this month in Louisiana against BP America, Shell Oil and Hilcorp Energy in which the plaintiffs seek $7 billion in damages; a Dallas jury awarded McKool Smith in $4.7 million in legal fees; and Akin scored a win for Elon Musk’s SpaceX in an immigration dispute.