Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Rowlett on KMS Retail Rowlett, LP's complaint alleging that the City's exercise of its eminent domain authority to take KMS's private road easement and convert it to a public road connecting several commercial retail and restaurant sites, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. Specifically, the Court held that the court of appeals did not err in concluding that (1) chapter 2206 of the Government Code, which prohibits takings for economic development purposes, did not apply to the taking in this case; (2) the City's condemnation was necessary for a constitutional public use; and (3) KMS failed to raise a fact issue as to whether the taking was fraudulent, in bad faith, or arbitrary and capricious. View "KMS Retail Rowlett, LP v. City of Rowlett" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court concluding that Petitioner, who represented a putative class of citizens seeking to strike down state statutes and a city's ordinance authorizing use of red-light cameras as a traffic-enforcement tool, was not required to seek an administrative remedy before filing his case in district court, holding that Petitioner lacked standing to bring one of his claims, that governmental immunity applied to another claim, and that Petitioner was required to seek administrative relief before filing a takings claim in district court. In reversing, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court had no jurisdiction over Petitioner's claims because Petitioner had failed to seek administrative relief. The Supreme Court affirmed but for different reasons, holding (1) Petitioner lacked standing to bring his prospective claims for declaratory and injunctive relief; (2) governmental immunity barred Petitioner's reimbursement claim; (3) Petitioner was required to exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing his constitutional takings claim in district court; and (4) an amended pleading would not cure the defects in Petitioner's claims. View "Garcia v. City of Willis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, holding that the public's right to information under the Texas Public Information Act (PIA) is subject to reasonable limitations when its production may lead to physical harm. Plaintiffs sought information regarding the source of drugs used in Texas executions by lethal injection. The trial court agreed with Plaintiffs that disclosing the source's identity would not create a substantial threat of physical harm to the source's employees and others. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law that the physical safety exception to the PIA applies to protect the identity of a vulnerable retail compounding pharmacy from public disclosure. View "Texas Department of Criminal Justice v. Levin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the court of appeals holding that an interlocutory order denying a motion for summary judgment based on a claim against or defense by a member of the media or personal quoted by the media involving constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech or of the press refers to the ruling on the entire motion, including nonconstitutional grounds, and Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on all claims against them. Plaintiff sued a publication and an orchestra alleging various tort claims. Defendants each moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims. The trial court granted the motions in part but denied the publication’s motion on Plaintiff’s claims for defamation, conspiracy to defame, negligence, and gross negligence and denied the orchestra’s motion on Plaintiff’s claims for conspiracy to defame and tortious interference with employment. Defendants appealed based on Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 51.014(a)(6). Some of Defendants’ defenses arose under constitutional guarantees of free speech and a free press, but others did not. The court reversed the denial of the publication’s motion for summary judgment and part of the denial of the orchestra’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims. View "Dallas Symphony Ass’n v. Reyes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court in this case brought by three pensioners, holding that the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System did not violate Tex. Const. art. XVI, 66 by amending its pension plan to reduce the interest rate paid on Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) accounts. Petitioners elected DROP before the amendment in this case and argued that the change in interest rate reduced or impaired service retirement benefits granted or accrued in violation of section 66. The trial court initially rendered judgment for Petitioners but, on reconsideration, ruled that reducing the DROP account interest rate prospectively did not violate section 66. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the the pension plan amendments did not violate section 66 because the DROP account interest rate change was prospective and will not impact funds deposited before the amendments became effective. View "Eddington v. Dallas Police & Fire Pension System" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning where taxes on compressors were due, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals, holding (1) Tex. Tax Code 23.1241 and 23.1242 controlled the taxable situs of the compressors at issue; and (2) Midland County was the taxable situs of the compressors. EXLP Leasing owned and leased out compressor stations used to deliver natural gas into pipelines. In response to a 2012 amendment to the Tax Code, EXLP began paying taxes on the compressors located in Loving County to Midland County. Loving County continued placing the compressors on its appraisal rolls at full market value, asserting that the compressors’ presence within the counties fixed taxable situs there. The appraisal review board sided with the county. The trial court agreed with the county, concluding that sections 23.1241 and 23.1242 were unconstitutional. The court of appeals held (1) the statutes are constitutional, and (2) the compressors’ taxable situs is Loving County. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) sections 23.1241 and 23.1242 control the taxable situs of the compressors; and (2) Midland County is the taxable situs of the compressors. View "Loving County Appraisal District v. EXLP Leasing LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that Texas Tax Code 23.1241 and 23.1242 controlled the taxable situs of the compressors at issue in this case and that Midland County, rather than Ward County, was the taxable situs of the compressors. EXLP Leasing owned and leased out compressor stations used to deliver natural gas into pipelines. While some of the compressors were in use in Ward County, EXLP paid taxes on those compressors to Midland County in response to a 2012 amendment to Tax Code sections 23.1241 and 23.1242 that included leased heavy equipment in a statutory formula used to value heavy equipment held by dealers for sale. An appraisal review board agreed with Ward County that the compressors' presence in the county fixed taxable situs there. The trial court concluded (1) sections 23.1241 and 23.1242 are unconstitutional; (2) taxes on the compressors were due to Ward County; and (3) the compressors fell under the challenged statutory framework as “heavy equipment.” The court of appeals concluded that the statues were constitutional but otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court held (1) the statutes are constitutional; (2) EXLP properly paid taxes on compressors in Midland County; and (3) the compressors met the statutory definition of “heavy equipment.” View "Ward County Appraisal District v. EES Leasing LLC" on Justia Law

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In this appeal of a condemnation judgment the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals holding the trial court’s evidentiary rulings were an abuse of discretion and reinstated the judgment of the trial court. The State planned to condemn a portion of a 33,000 square-foot property owned by Stephen and Kimberly Morale in the Town of Little Elm. The special commissioners awarded the Morales $49,804 in damages for the taking. The Morales objected to the award and demanded a jury trial. The jury awarded $1,064,335 to the Morales, and the trial court essentially rendered judgment on the verdict. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the trial court erroneously admitted and excluded various evidence at trial, thereby probably resulting in the rendition of an improper judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court’s challenged evidentiary rulings were not an abuse of discretion. View "Morale v. State" on Justia Law

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Relator, who was designated a sexually violent predator and civilly committed pursuant to the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act, was not entitled to appointed counsel in proceedings on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the Act’s 2015 amendments. The trial court denied Relator’s request for appointed counsel on the State’s motion to modify Relator’s civil commitment order. The court of appeals granted mandamus relief to Relator, ordering the trial court to vacate its orders and appoint counsel to represent Relator in further proceedings on the State’s motion to modify. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the State’s petition for writ of mandamus, holding that Relator was not entitled to appointed counsel on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the amended Act, and therefore, the court of appeals abused its discretion in granting Relator mandamus relief. View "In re State of Texas" on Justia Law

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Relator, who was designated a sexually violent predator and civilly committed pursuant to the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act, was not entitled to appointed counsel in proceedings on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the Act’s 2015 amendments. The trial court denied Relator’s request for appointed counsel on the State’s motion to modify Relator’s civil commitment order. The court of appeals granted mandamus relief to Relator, ordering the trial court to vacate its orders and appoint counsel to represent Relator in further proceedings on the State’s motion to modify. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the State’s petition for writ of mandamus, holding that Relator was not entitled to appointed counsel on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the amended Act, and therefore, the court of appeals abused its discretion in granting Relator mandamus relief. View "In re State of Texas" on Justia Law