In this week’s edition of Litigation Roundup, a team from Vinson & Elkins gets a win for the Sabine-Neches Navigation District in a case of first impression involving the Water Resources Development Act, a bus manufacturer is hit with a wrongful death lawsuit over the death of a 6-year-old girl and a Taiwanese pipe maker escapes a wrongful death suit.
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Eastern District of Texas
FC Dallas Hit With Patent Suit Over How It Sells Tickets
Dallas’ major league soccer team was hit with a lawsuit Sept. 13 alleging the systems and applications it uses to market and sell tickets violate two patents held by Alvao Digital.
Alvao Digital is represented by Randall T. Garteiser of Garteiser Honea, and counsel for FC Dallas has not yet appeared.
The patents-at-issue, according to the lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Robert W. Schroeder III, allow a ticket purchaser to sell tickets to others after the game has started.
The cause number is 2:22-cv-00358.
Southern District of Texas
Houston Electronics Repair Co. Sues Insurer Over Ransomware Costs
CSAT Solutions LP, a commercial and consumer electronics repair company, has sued its insurers, North American Capacity Insurance and Peleus Insurance Company, alleging they have refused to fully pay its claim for losses that were caused by a November 2020 ransomware attack.
CSAT alleges that it avoided paying the requested $15 million ransom to the hackers but that it racked up $8 million in covered costs responding to the attack.
It submitted proof of loss to the insurers in January 2021, according to the lawsuit, and received reimbursement of a portion of expenses it incurred.
“CSAT repeatedly asked the Insurers to comply with the policy and reimburse it for its covered breach response costs,” the lawsuit alleges. “The Insurers have ignored multiple submissions of documents CSAT provided, taken unreasonable positions about policy terms, and placed their interests above those of their insured, all of which constitutes bad faith.”
CSAT is represented by Mary Kaylan Dunn of Hunton Andrews Kurth.
Counsel had yet to appear on behalf of the insurers Monday afternoon.
The cause number is 4:22-cv-03125.
Dallas County District Court
School District Sued After 6-Year-Old Girl Fatally Hit By Bus
Brock Independent School District, bus manufacturer Blue Bird Body Company and sales and service company Rush Truck Centers of Texas have all been named as defendants in a lawsuit recently filed in the wake of a 6-year-old girl’s death.
Emory Sayre was struck while walking in front of her school bus on April 25 and suffered fatal injuries.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 12, alleges it was a design defect not to include student-detection systems and motion-sensor technology on the bus that would have prevented Sayre’s death.
The Sayres are represented by Muhammad S. Aziz, Karl P. Long and Morgan F. Mills of Abraham Watkins Nichols Agosto Aziz & Stogner and Nicholas A. Rodriguez and Kevin A. Koudelka of Richardson Koudelka.
Counsel had yet to appear for Brock Independent School District, Rush Truck Centers of Texas and Blue Bird Body Company as of Monday afternoon.
The cause number is DC-22-12335.
Fifth Court of Appeals
Taiwanese Pipe Maker Escapes Wrongful Death Suit
Far East Machinery Co., a steel pipe manufacturer, secured a ruling on Sept. 13 that ended a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit brought against it by the families of those killed and injured in a June 2018 natural gas explosion at a hospital construction site in Gatesville, Texas.
Far East appealed after a Dallas County Court-at-Law judge denied its special appearance. Isabel Aranzamendi and others sued the company alleging the pipe it made had not been properly treated to resist absorbing an odorant that’s added to natural gas that makes the naturally odorless substance detectable.
The appellate panel determined that the company “did not target the Texas market for selling pipe … did not purposefully avail itself of the privilege of conducting activities within Texas, and did not invoke the benefits and protections of its laws.”
Far East is represented by Adraon D. Greene and McKenzie L. Brown of Galloway Law Firm.
The families are represented by Chad W. Dunn of Brazil & Dunn and John M. Padilla and Rachael Eve Brown of Padilla & Rodriguez.
Justices Lana Myers, Robbie Partida-Kipness and Cory L. Carlyle sat on the panel.
The cause number is 05-21-00267-CV.
Fourteenth Court of Appeals
Mixed Bag Ruling Sends Total, Kinder Morgan Dispute Back to Trial Court
Summary judgment rulings that resolved a dispute about insurance coverage between Total Petrochemicals & Refining and Kinder Morgan Petcoke were recently reversed by a Texas appeals court and sent the case back to trial for a determination of what damages are attributable to Kinder Morgan’s breach.
The Sept. 15 ruling comes in the case stemming from an on-the-job death of a Kinder Morgan employee. The wrongful death lawsuit settled, with Total and Kinder Morgan each making contributions to the family. Total then sued Kinder Morgan alleging it failed to maintain the minimum insurance coverages required under a contract.
The panel kept intact a trial court ruling that damages resulting from Kinder Morgan’s breach are $6 million at the most, rejecting Total’s argument that it was entitled to recover $9 million.
“Because the issue of damages remains for resolution on remand, we do not reach the parties’ arguments regarding Kinder Morgan’s claims to an offset or to recover its settlement contribution,” the panel held.
Justices Kevin Jewell, Frances Bourliot and Margaret “Meg” Poissant sat on the panel.
Kinder Morgan is represented by Tom Phillips at Baker Botts and Michael C. Cotton, who was previously at Baker Botts and now at Lehotsky Keller, along with James M. Bettis Jr., D. Mitchell McFarland, Justin K. Ratley and Carrie Schadle of Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr.
Total is represented by Wallace B. Jefferson and Rachel A. Ekery of Alexander Dubose & Jefferson.
Ace Property and Casualty Insurance is represented by Sarah R. Smith and Allison N. Griswold of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and Jack G. Carnegie of Clark Hill.
The cause number is 14-20-00661-CV.
Sabine-Neches ‘Harbor Dues’ OK’d In Case of First Impression
The Sabine-Neches Navigation District can continue imposing “harbor dues” on vessels that use the waterway as part of its plan to partially fund a $1.2 billion project to deepen and widen the nation’s third-busiest shipping channel.
The Sept. 14 ruling giving the all-clear to the collection of dues was a blow to BG Gulf Coast LNG and Phillips 66, which had argued the dues violated the Water Resources Development Act.
The companies lodged their challenge in a September 2021 lawsuit, and the Navigation District won dismissal in February. Harry Reasoner argued on behalf of the Navigation District on appeal and told the Fifth Circuit that ruling against his client would have negative repercussions on the shipping industry across the nation.
Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod, Carl E. Stewart and James E. Graves Jr. sat on the panel.
The navigation district is represented by its general counsel DeWayne Layfield and a Vinson & Elkins team that includes Harry Reasoner, Jeremy Marwell, Stacey Neumann Vu, James Dawson, Michael McCambridge and Shelby Hart-Armstrong.
The cause number is 22-40158.