06.05.18

This week, the Supreme Court of Texas issued four opinions and twelve grants. One opinion and three grants are of particular interest.

In Sky View at Las Palmas LLC and Ilan Israely v. Roman Geronimo Martinez Mendez et al., the Texas Supreme Court determined that the one-satisfaction rule does not bar credit for amounts already paid to the plaintiffs by the defendant's insurer and the plaintiffs' former law firm when the plaintiff has suffered a single, indivisible injury.

In this case, Martinez sued Sky View, Israely, two law firms, and a title company after loaning money to Sky View and Israely which was never repaid. In his breach of contract and fraud suit against Sky View and Israely, Martinez won $2.6 million. However, based on the one-satisfaction rule, Skyview argued that the award should be reduced by the $2.3 million collective settlement amount that Martinez already received from the title companies and law firm.

Focusing on the fact that Martinez proved and asked the jury to compensate him only for a single injury, the Supreme Court agreed that Skyview was entitled to settlement credits amounting to the sum of the prior settlements. The Court clarified that under the one-satisfaction rule a plaintiff is entitled to only one recovery for a single, indivisible injury. By establishing that Martinez had received $2.3 million in settlement proceeds for the same injury for which he sought to recover from Skyview, Skyview shifted the burden to Martinez to show that the settlement proceeds were for a different injury, which Martinez failed to do. The Court also rejected the argument that there must be a finding of joint liability before applying to one-satisfaction rule as having no merit. For these reasons, the Court reversed and remanded the case.

In RSL Funding LLC and RSL Special-IV LP v. Rickey Newsome, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on an arbitration dispute case presenting two main issues for determination: (1) whether an arbitration agreement that clearly and unmistakably delegates the determination of arbitrability is enforceable and (2) whether an arbitrator can modify or void a court's Transfer Order in the context of transferring structured settlement/annuity payments. A date for oral argument on these issues has not yet been set.

The Court will also hear oral arguments for Exxon Mobil Corp. v. The Insurance Co. of Pennsylvania, a subrogation dispute between a contractor, Exxon Mobil, and a subcontractor's insurance company, The Insurance Company of Pennsylvania. In connection with this case, the Court will evaluate whether the standard subrogation endorsement permits a court to consider extrinsic contract provisions in the evaluation of the issue of waiver of subrogation rights. The date for the oral argument has not been determined. A date for oral argument on these issues is pending.

Additionally, the Court will hear the oral arguments in Tracy Windrum v. Victor Kareh, M.D., at a date to be determined, on whether there was sufficient evidence in this wrongful death and medical malpractice case to establish a breach of the standard of care and proximate cause.