Unrelated to Jurisdiction – Pet. Granted

  • In re Lamar University
    • 091800241CV, 2018 WL 3911062
    • 60th District of Jefferson County
    • Per Curiam, Aug. 16, 2018
  • The real parties in interest, coaches of Lamar University’s softball team, filed a lawsuit against the University alleging a failure to follow Lamar’s policies with respect to grievances and appeals of their employment termination.
  • Real parties filed a temporary restraining order against the University to prohibit Lamar from taking any further action under Texas State University Rules and a mandatory permanent injunction to compel Lamar to follow its Human Resources policy manual.
  • Relators filed a plea to the jurisdiction, alleging that as at-will employees, the real parties had not right to a grievance or appeal of their employment termination, as well as failure to plead a valid cause of action due to the defense of sovereign immunity.
  • In response, real parties requested a continuance on the plea to the jurisdiction until they could conduct discovery and develop their case.
  • The trial court granted the TRO, and without ruling on the plea to the jurisdiction, the trial court granted the request for expedited discovery.
  • The Ninth Court held that though trial courts have discretion to permit limited discovery on jurisdictional issues, the requested discovery in this case was unrelated to the jurisdictional issue before the trial court. Thus, the trial court abused its discretion by ordering expedited discovery on matter unrelated to jurisdiction. The trial court is to vacate its order granting expedited discovery and rule on the plea to the jurisdiction.

Adequate Relief – Pet. Denied

  • In re Oxbow Calcining LLC
    • 09-18-00273-CV, 2018 WL 3763441
    • 172nd District
    • Per Curiam, Aug. 9, 2018
  • PASE filed a petition and application for post-judgment turnover proceeding; Oxbow filed a motion to transfer venue to Harris County and compel the dispute to arbitration, as well as a motion to quash the hearing. Oxbow argued that the motion to transfer and motion to compel should be decided first. The trial court denied the motion to quash.
  • Oxbow contends it lacks an adequate remedy by appeal because the order effectively deprives Oxbow of its contractual right to arbitration and severely compromises its ability to present its defense at the hearing on PASE’s application for a turnover order.
  • The Ninth Court held that Oxbow had an adequate remedy by appeal because any order from a hearing on an application for turnover is appealable.

New Trial – Pet. Granted

  • In re Enterprise Refined Products Company, LLC
    • 091800069CV, 2018 WL 2246584
    • 172nd District Court of Jefferson County
    • Per Curiam, May 17, 2018
  • The trial court granted plaintiff’s motion for new trial after the jury apportioned responsibility 70% on the plaintiff and 30% on the defendant.
  • Further, trial court held that (1) insufficient evidence supported the jury’s findings on plaintiff’s contributory negligence, (2) the great weight and preponderance of the evidence supports larger damage awards than the jury awarded, and (3) the defendant’s jury argument that plaintiff should not have been on the gangway because he was supposed to be on light duty due to a previous injury was improper and so prejudicial that it could not have been cured by an instruction to disregard, and a new trial was required.
  • Ninth Court held that (1) there was ample evidence for the jury to place liability on the plaintiff, (2) the finding of liability rendered the damages questions immaterial, and (3) the defense’s argument did not reach to the level of being incurable. The trial court is to vacate its order granting new trial and reinstate the jury’s findings.

Responsible Third Parties – Pet. Granted

  • In re United Parcel Service, Inc.
    • No. 09–18–00002–CV, 2018 WL 753503
    • 60th District of Jefferson County
    • Per Curiam, Feb. 8, 2018
  • UPS filed a motion to designate several responsible third parties (RTP) on October 3, 2017, which at the time was more than 60 days before trial scheduled for December 2017.
  • The trial court’s original May docket control order placed a deadline to designate RTP by June 2, 2017. In October 2017, the trial court signed a new docket control order that vacated the December trial setting to an April 2018 setting and extended deadlines except for the June 2, 2017 deadline to designate RTP.
  • The other parties objected on the basis that UPS’ motion to designate RTP was after the June 2, 2017 deadline, and that the trial court’s new docket control order and trial setting did not invalidate the June 2, 2017 deadline. For those reasons, the trial court denied UPS’ motion.
  • The Ninth Court found that the original docket control order required UPS to designate responsible third parties approximately six months before the initially scheduled trial, a period approximately three times earlier than the statutorily given 60 day period. Though trial courts have authority to enter docket control orders, nothing in Rule 166 allows them to disregard statutory time limits. The Ninth Court held that the trial court abused its discretion and conditionally granted UPS’s petition for mandamus relief, directing the trial court to withdraw its order.