October 9, 2015

October 9, 2015

This week, the Supreme Court of Texas set six cases for oral argument. We review each of these orders in this week's edition of the Texas Supreme Court Update.

The State of Texas v. One (1) 2004 Lincoln Navigator; Case 14-0692:

Police arrested Miguel Herrera after discovering a firearm in Herrera's 2004 Lincoln Navigator, which the police subsequently seized. The State later filed a petition seeking to forfeit the vehicle to the State. On Herrera's motion, the trial court suppressed all the evidence gained from the search and seizure of the vehicle and issued a separate judgment that denied the State's petition for forfeiture and ordered possession and title to the vehicle returned to Herrera. The 13th Court of Appeals affirmed. Oral argument is set for November 4, 2015.

Alice M. Wood v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A.; Case 14-0714:

Borrowers, who obtained home-equity loan that encumbered their homestead with a lien, sued current lienholder, loan servicer, and other defendants seeking declaratory judgment and relief for breaching the security instrument. Current lienholder counterclaimed, seeking declaration that it was equitably subrogated to rights of prior lienholders. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of current lienholder and loan servicer and denied borrowers' motion for summary judgment. The Texas Court of Appeals for the 14th District affirmed, holding that the statute of limitation barred the borrowers' claim because the breach of contract occurred more than four years past. Oral argument is set for December 8, 2015.

Glenn Hegar, in his Official Capacity as Texas Comptroller v. Texas Small Tobacco Coalition; Case 14-0747:

Tobacco manufacturers association filed a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that cigarette "fee" under Health and Safety Code imposed upon manufactures who had not participated in the State's settlement with major tobacco companies for antitrust and deceptive advertising actions was unconstitutional. The trial court found the tax unconstitutional. On appeal, the Texas Court of Appeals for the 3rd District affirmed the unconstitutionality. Oral argument is set for December 8, 2015.

Madelon Hyshaw v. Bretton Guy Dawkins; Case 14-0984:

Descendants of two sibling-beneficiaries filed petition to construe testator's will and sought declaratory judgment that they were entitled to fraction of royalty interest in mineral production, rather than fractional royalty interest, as was alleged by descendants of third sibling-beneficiary. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs, finding that descendants were entitled to 1/3 fraction of royalty interest. The San Antonio Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision and rendered judgment holding that will devised tract of land subject to fractional royalty of 1/24 to each beneficiary. Oral argument is set for December 8, 2015.

Michael L. Williams v. Sterling City I.S.D.; Case 14-0986:

School districts brought action against Commissioner of Education alleging Commissioner miscalculated districts' excess revenue when determining the amount of local tax revenue that the State could take back from districts pursuant to school funding statute. The District Court, Travis County, John K. Dietz, J., found in favor of districts. On appeal, the Eastland Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the claw back provision only could only be used for revenue attributable to funding elements listed in the statute. Oral argument is set for December 9, 2015.

Hallmark Marketing Company, LLC v. Glenn Hegar, in his Official Capacity as Texas Comptroller; Case 14-1075:

Appellant, Hallmark Marketing Company, LLC ("Hallmark"), challenged the calculation of its 2008 franchise tax, arguing the Comptroller misinterpreted the phrase "net gain from sale" in subsection (b) of tax code section 171.105. The trial court denied a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Hallmark and granted a motion for partial summary judgment filed by appellees Susan Combs, Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas, and Greg Abbott, Attorney General of the State of Texas. The Court of Appeals for the 13th District of Texas affirmed. Oral argument is set for December 9, 2015.

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