This week the Texas Supreme Court issued 9 opinions and 5 grants. Five of these opinions are of particular interest.
In re HEB Grocery Co. – 15-0625:
In this mandamus appeal, the Texas Supreme Court addressed whether prohibiting HEB’s medical expert from examining the Plaintiff in a slip and fall case against HEB was an abuse of discretion by the trial court.
The Texas Supreme Court held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the physical examination for the following reasons: (1) the extent of the Plaintiff’s injuries and damages is relevant, (2) the Plaintiff’s expert had already examine him and the Defendant’s expert should be afforded the same opportunity, (3) the results of such an examination would go to the heart of the defense strategy, (4) HEB’s expert would be at a distinct disadvantage at trial if he is unable to examine the Plaintiff, and (5) there is some evidence in the record that the Plaintiff had a previous accident and some of his current complaints were complications or aggravations of previous injuries.
In re J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. – 15-0631:
In this mandamus appeal, the Texas Supreme Court considered whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying an abatement plea that included an allegation that an earlier suit filed in another county but involving the same traffic accident dominated.
The Texas Supreme Court held that the trial court abused its discretion because there is no exception to the first-filed rule. The Court also clarified that the active-interference test for deciding mandamus relief is abrogated by the balancing test set forth in In re Prudential.
Linegar v. DLA Piper US, LLP – 14-0767:
In this malpractice case, the Texas Supreme Court tackled the issue of whether a person whose only injury is lost retirement money held by a corporate trustee has standing to sue for legal malpractice.
DLA Piper represented Mr. Linegar in the details of a temporary loan to a company. Before the loan was paid back, the company declared bankruptcy. Mr. Linegar brought a legal malpractice suit against DLA Piper alleging that it had failed to secure the loan properly and when the company declared bankruptcy Mr. Linegar lost his retirement fund. Following a jury trial, Ms. Linegar was awarded the value of the retirement fund and other damages. The Court of appeals reversed finding that Mr. Linegar did not have standing because the loan was from a corporate trustee.
The Texas Supreme Court concluded that Mr. Linegar established that DLA Piper owed him a duty individually and that he suffered a personal and concrete grievance; therefore, Mr. Linegar did have standing to bring a legal malpractice claim against DLA Piper.
Hebner, et al. v. Reddy, et al. – 14-0593:
In this health-care liability case, the Texas Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether an expert report served prior to the filing of the lawsuit meets the Chapter 74 requirement that an expert report be filed within 120 days from the date suit is filed. The Court concluded that pre-suit service is not required but does facilitate the objective of the statute by encouraging early settlement of health care liability cases; therefore, pre-suit service of an expert report prior to the filing of the lawsuit is sufficient to meet the 120-day deadline. However, the Court further ruled that the Defendant’s 21-day period to object to the sufficiency of the expert report does not begin to run until the Defendant has been sued and served with process.
Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Ltd., et al v. Andrade, et al. – 15-0563:
In this case, the Texas Supreme Court addressed the limits of vicarious liability in the context of a health care liability claim.
Following injuries to their daughter during her birth, the parents brought suit against the obstetrician for negligence and against the hospital limited partnership and the hospital’s general partner under a theory of vicarious liability. The trial court denied the limited partnership and general partner’s summary judgment motion, and the appellate court affirmed.
The Texas Supreme Court held that the limited partnership could not be vicariously liable in this case because (1) the limited partnership’s business as a hospital operator does not include the practice of medicine and (2) the limited partnership agreement did not give the obstetrician any authority to practice medicine at the hospital.