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SCOTX aka Supreme Court of Texas: What I Did On My Summer Vacation

And so we reach the dog days of summer when things start getting back to "normal" for grownups while kiddos head back to school, there to write the obligatory essay: what I did on my summer vacation.

Well, the Supreme Court of Texas is back to it again this week, having held its first full conference since the summer break.  The result was 2 new opinions hot and fresh from the oven or perhaps cooked well done on a Texas sidewalk under the August sun.   The court also granted two petitions for review and set one mandamus for argument.

After the jump summaries and links to the new opinions. 

  • In Regal Finance v. Tex Star Motors (pdf), the Court grappled with the question of whether the evidence was legally sufficient to support a jury finding that the secured creditor acted in a commercially reasonable manner in disposing of the collateral.  (It was).  Justice Medina wrote the court's opinion and Justice Johnson wrote a dissenting opinion (pdf). 
  • In Fresh Coat v. K2 (pdf), the examined a synthetic stucco manufacturer’s duty to indemnify a contractor under Chapter 82 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code including (1) Is synthetic stucco a “product”?and (2) Is the contractor that installs it on a house a “seller”?  The court answered both questions in the affirmative and found a duty to indemnify. Justice Willett wrote the court's opinion.

Still lodged somewhere in the void is Solar Applications Engineering, the court's oldest cause, pending since April 2006--about 18 months before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy at that quaint and distant time when General Motors was still a publicly traded company.   So I expect hunger striking mechanics and material men on the Court's front steps. 

In exchange for the two causes it jettisoned, the Court added three matters:  

  • Texas Department of Public Safety v. Cox Newspapers (pdf) arising from a suit for writ of mandamus against the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to compel disclosure of travel vouchers submitted by DPS officers who serve on the Governor’s security detail, pursuant to the Public Information Act, TEX. GOV’T CODE § 552.022.   According to the Attorney General, issues presented include:

1. Pursuant to the Public Information Act’s authorization of common-law exceptions to disclosure, the Court permits withholding of public information that would injure a person by disclosure of embarrassing private facts. Should the Court do the same with respect to public information that would threaten physical injury to a person, consistent with over 30 years of undisturbed Attorney General legal opinion and recent legislative endorsement?  

2. The Public Information Act excludes from required disclosure public information that is confidential under other law. Are the travel records of the Governor’s security detail excused from disclosure because they relate to DPS’s staffing requirements and tactical plans for protecting the Governor, his family, and others from attack, making the records confidential information under the Texas Homeland Security Act?

Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that Genesis failed to effectuate a transfer of the tax liens.

Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that Genesis was required to plead lien superiority as an affirmative defense when the plaintiff explicitly pleaded that his liens were superior to those of Genesis.

  • In re Smith (pdf) (who did not submit electronic versions of his petition for writ of mandamus) which involves denial of a claim for compensation for wrongfully imprisoned persons.  The Attorney General (i.e., the opposition) says of the issue:

An applicant for compensation under the Texas Wrongful Imprisonment Act may not receive compensation for any concurrent sentence served on another crime to which the Act does not apply. At the time of Smith’s wrongful conviction, he was on parole for another crime not subject to the Act. Was Smith serving a concurrent sentence that limited the amount of compensation to which he was entitled under the Act?

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About this Author

Kendall M. Gray, Antitrust Litigation Attorney, Andrews Kurth Law Firm

Kendall is a board certified civil appellate specialist who has represented clients in state and federal appellate courts such as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Fifth, Ninth, Tenth and Federal Circuits, the Supreme Court of Texas and many intermediate courts of appeal. His practice includes a variety of complex commercial, medical malpractice and toxic tort matters, as well as a particular focus in disputes involving employee benefits, managed care and ERISA. The disputes commonly require complex written and oral advocacy on such topics as ERISA preemption,...