Chapter 74 Expert Reports – Affirmed

  • Ahmed and Diagnostic Group v. Murphy
    • 09-18-00105-CV, 2018 WL 3911036
    • 58th District Court of Jefferson County
    • Justice Horton, Aug. 16, 2018
  • Murphy sued Dr. Raees Ahmed and the Diagnostic Group for an alleged failure to properly diagnose and treat a heart failure. Murphy asserted a healthcare liability claim under the Texas Medical Liability Act.
  • Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Murphy’s Chapter 74 expert reports were conclusory and failed to sufficiently demonstrate causation. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss.
  • The Ninth Court held that the reports contained adequate explanations and causal links to meet the minimum standards of Chapter 74 of the Texas Practice and Remedies Code.

Against the County – Reversed and Rendered

  • Jefferson County v. Jackson
    • 09-17-00197-CV, 2018 WL 3580858
    • 172nd District Court of Jefferson County
    • Justice Horton, July 26, 2018
  • Jefferson County filed a plea to the jurisdiction against an employee discrimination suit filed by Jackson. The suit included claims under the Whistleblower Act and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. The trial court denied the plea.
  • The Ninth Court held that despite multiple re-pleadings of various claims, Jackson failed to present any evidence that the trial court could exercise jurisdiction over her case and overcome governmental immunity. Governmental immunity protects political subdivisions of the state, including counties, from lawsuits. The Court rendered judgment granting the plea and ordered the suit dismissed with prejudice.

Lay Opinion – Reversed and Rendered

  • Spaulding v. Sumrall
    • 09-16-00153-CV, 2018 WL 2339619
    • County Court at Law No. 1 of Jefferson County
    • Justice Horton, May 24, 2018
  • The plaintiff exchanged his catamaran for the defendant’s 1974 Corvette Stingray and cash. After learning that the car was not in the condition as represented, plaintiff filed suit under the DTPA. The trial court allowed the plaintiff to prove his damages from his own lay testimony that he was familiar with the market value of Stingrays by looking on the internet at trade price lists.
  • The Ninth Court found that a property owner is generally qualified to testify to the value of his property even if the owner is not an expert; this rule is based on the assumption that the owner is familiar with the owner’s own property. In this case, however, the plaintiff must have shown knowledge of the Stingray’s value when the trade was made between the parties. The plaintiff did not have the expertise to provide the trial court with a reliable opinion regarding the market value of 1974 Stingray; thus, his testimony was legally insufficient to support the damage award.

Arbitration – Reverse and Remanded

  • The Sinclair Group, LTD. v. Haggblom
    • 548 S.W.3d 40
    • 284th District Court of Montgomery County
    • Justice Horton, April 12, 2018
  • Sinclair appealed the trial court’s denial of their motion to compel arbitration. The crux of the dispute fell on whether the appraised complied with the appraisal method establish in the parties’ agreements. Haggblom argued that the appraiser’s opinion was final because the appraisal provision in the agreement stated that “determination of the [fair market value] . . . shall be binding upon the parties.” Sinclair, on the other hand, argued that the term “binding” did not overrule an arbitrable dispute.
  • The Ninth Court found that the parties’ agreements required the parties to arbitrate “[a]ny and all disputes, controversies, or claims arising out of or relating” to the agreements; therefore, given the broad scope of the arbitration agreement language, the dispute over the appraisal method was an arbitrable issue. Noting the State’s public policy of strongly favoring arbitration, the Ninth Court held that the trial court erred by denying the motion to compel arbitration, reversed the order, and remanded the case to resolve the dispute through arbitration.

DWOP – Pet. Denied

  • In re Nowell
    • 548 S.W.3d 104
    • 60th Court of Jefferson County
    • Justice Kreger for the Majority, April 5, 2018
    • Justic Horton for the Dissent
  • Relators answered the suit filed by Henson in February 2010. After the parties conducted initial discovery, the case remained dormant until the election of a new trial judge in January 2017. The new judge set the case on the trial docket for April 2018. Subsequent to the case being set on the trial docket, Relators filed a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution and alternatively, for a continuance.
  • In response to the trial setting and motion to dismiss, Henson’s counsel designated experts and stated that he was unaware that the case had appeared on a dismissal docket. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss but granted a continuance of the case. Relators then filed this mandamus action challenging the judge’s denial of the motion to dismiss.
  • The majority of the Ninth Court noted that a delay of unreasonable duration will raise a conclusive presumption of abandonment of the suit and that the Rules of Judicial Administration provide that civil jury cases are to be brought to final disposition within 18 months of the appearance date. The majority of the Ninth Court then concluded that because Henson had submitted to a deposition, obtained medical records, and responded to requests for discovery, sufficient facts were before the trial court to enable it to conclude that the delay was not attributable to conscious indifference but because both the trial court and plaintiff’s counsel had inadvertently lost track of the case.
  • In his dissenting opinion, Justice Hollis Horton challenged the majority’s opinion regarding the reasonableness of the explanation offered by Henson’s counsel. In particular, Justice Horton noted that the Record was completely devoid of any explanation for the delay by the “attorney in charge” of Henson’s case; that is, the only explanation was one provided by an associate attorney, and the associate gave no reasonable explanation for the significant delays.