Helping Trial Lawyers Navigate the Appellate System

With last week’s orders, the Texas Supreme Court decided five cases, four of which involved per curiam opinions.

In Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Mayes, the Court concluded that the plaintiff failed to raise fact issues sufficient to preclude summary judgment.  Reversing a divided court of appeals for failure to apply the proper standard of review, the Court rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing.

In In re Allied Chemical Corporation, a divided Court conditionally granted mandamus relief to defendants in a mass-tort case set for trial even though the plaintiffs had never identified medical experts who could connect their diseases to the defendants’ products.  The Court determined that the trial setting was premature and that mandamus was appropriate (1) to avoid a “monumental waste of judicial resources,” (2) because the trial setting effectively denied discovery going to the heart of the defendants’ case, and (3) because the setting severely compromised the defendants’ ability to present any case at all at trial.  Justice Hecht concurred, and Chief Justice Jefferson (joined by Justices O’Neill, Wainwright, and Johnson) and Justice Wainwright each issued dissenting opinions.

In Kallam v. Boyd, theCourt withdrew its previous order granting the defendants’ petitions and denied the petitions as improvidently granted because the plaintiff died shortly before oral argument.  Under the circumstances, the Court decided not to address the constitutional issue on which the court of appeals’ decision turned:  whether the Texas Constitution’s Open Courts provision precluded application of the statute of limitations to bar claims before the plaintiff reasonably could have discovered them.

In Brinson Ford, Inc. v. Alger, the Court held that the plaintiff, who fell from a pedestrian ramp at an auto dealership, presented no evidence of a premises condition posing an unreasonable risk of harm.  The Court reversed and rendered judgment for the dealership.

In In re Allstate County Mutual Insurance Co., the Court conditionally granted mandamus relief to an insurer and agent bombarded with a total of 213 discovery requests (89 requests for production, 59 interrogatories, and 65 requests for admission) in a third party car-wreck case.

D. Todd Smith
About the Author

D. Todd Smith is an Austin-based civil appellate specialist who works with trial teams from the earliest stages of litigation. In trial courts, he takes the lead on strategic analysis and briefing, jury charges, and potentially dispositive motions, all with a focus on preserving error and positioning cases for appellate review.

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