Supreme Court of Texas Update: SCOTX Statutes-O-Rama

This recent homily in the Texas Lawyer mentioned how and why the Texas Supreme Court tends to grant statutory cases. This week’s new opinions surely reflect that statutory bias. They are wall-to-wall statutory cases.

  • Travis Central Appraisal District v. Norman involves whether the Legislature’s amendment to the Labor Code undid the Supreme Court’s prior construction of the act in City of LaPorte v. Barfield. Answer: yes. The Court had previously held that the Labor Code waived immunity of political subdivisions as against retaliatory discharge/workers comp claims.  After the amendment, the Appraisal District now had immunity. Justice Medina wrote the opinion.
  •  Loftin v. Lee involved the application of the Texas Equine Activity Limitation of Liability Act (yes, there is one), which limits liability for the inherent risks of equine activity–e.g., horse back riding. Justice Hecht, writing for the Court, broadly applied the act to risks that, in their general character, are associated with activities involving equine animals, and also held that the failure to fully assess a rider’s skill is no basis for liability if that failure did not cause the injury.
  • Roccaforte v. Jefferson County involved the question of whether personal service of notice of a claim on the county judge and county or district attorney was good enough, even though Section 89.0041 of the Local Government Code required registered or certified mail. Chief Justice Jefferson, writing for the majority, said it was. Justice Willett would have held that it was not, but concurred in the result, finding waiver because the County had engaged in litigation for two years and waited for limitations to expire before complaining.
  • On denial of rehearing in Turtle Health Care v. Linan, the Judge Per Curiam construed the Texas Medical Liability Act to the effect that claims complaining about the failure of a ventilator without properly charged batteries could not be brought outside the Act and its requirements for expert reports.

But just to keep Mr. Smarty Pants Blogger in his place, the Court granted a non-statutory petition for review, Texas Electric Utility Construction v. Infrasource Underground Construction Services, positing the question of whether attorneys fees can be recovered as damages for conversion when the unauthorized use of the converted property results in an injury and a lawsuit that the owner winds up defending.

Next week, we’ll have another very special guest expert on the blog, this time on the issue of how to write for screen readers.

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