Last week the Texas Supreme Court issued one opinion and five grants. The sole opinion and two of the five grants are of particular interest.
In City of Magnolia 4A Economic Development Corp. and City of Magnolia 4B Economic Development Corp. v. David Smedley the Texas Supreme Court determined when the 20-day deadline by which to bring an interlocutory appeal began to run. Specifically, in this case, David Smedley filed suit against the City of Magnolia entities, which are municipal development corporations (MDCs). The MDCs filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted as to the negligence and money damages claims but denied as to the claims for injunctive relief. After the motion to dismiss was granted, the MDCs filed hybrid no evidence and traditional motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims, and the trial court denied the motion for summary judgment. On August 3, 2015, a week after the denial of the summary judgment motions and 7 weeks after the motion to dismiss was granted, the MDCs filed a notice of appeal based on the trial court’s denial of summary judgment.
The Court of Appeals held that the hybrid motion for summary judgment was in effect a motion for reconsideration of the MDCs’ original motion to dismiss; therefore, the 20-day period expired before the MDCs filed their notice of appeal.
The Texas Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the 20-day period to bring an interlocutory appeal ran from the trial court’s ruling on the MDCs’ motion to dismiss or from the trial court’s denial of the hybrid summary judgment motion. Although the Court recognized that both motions raised similar issues and both constitute “pleas to the jurisdiction” for interlocutory-appeal purposes, the Court concluded that the MDC’s hybrid motion for summary judgment was not a motion for reconsideration of the denial of dismissal of the claims for injunctive relief. Instead, the Court found the hybrid motion for summary judgment to be a distinct motion with “an independent twenty-day interlocutory appeal period.” For this reason, the Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
In Albert Lujan v. Navistar Inc. et al from Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court will determine whether to adopt the “sham affidavit doctrine,” which allows a court to disregard a “sham” affidavit that is executed after a deposition and, without explanation, clearly contradicts the deposition testimony on a material point. Oral arguments will be heard on this issue on February 6, 2018.
On February 7, 2018, the Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dennis Rayner and Joe Tex Xpress Inc. v. Krista Dillon from the Texarkana Court of Appeals. The Court will evaluate the legal sufficiency of the evidence to determine whether such evidence supports a jury finding of gross negligence and exemplary damages in the context of a motor vehicle accident involving a long-haul trucker and an individual driving a Chevy Malibu.