Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court awarding specific performance to Pathfinder Oil & Gas, Inc., which claimed a twenty-five percent working interest in certain mineral leases under a letter agreement that Great Western Drilling Ltd. claimed was unenforceable, holding that Pathfinder was entitled to specific performance. On the day before trial, the parties stipules that only certain issues would be submitted to the jury and that favorable jury findings would entitle Pathfinder to specific performance instead of money damages. The jury charge included only the specifically enumerated jury issues, and the jury answered those issues in favor of Pathfinder. The trial court awarded specific performance as provided by the parties' agreement. The court of appeals reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment, holding that specific performance was unavailable without a jury finding that Pathfinder was "ready, willing, and able" to perform its obligations under the contract. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, through the stipulation, Great Western waived the right to insist on any other fact findings that might otherwise have been required to entitle Pathfinder to specific performance. View "Pathfinder Oil & Gas, Inc. v. Great Western Drilling, Ltd." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in part and rendered judgment dismissing Plaintiff's claims that a governmental entity breached a contractual promise to make a good faith effort to obtain authorization for a higher payment than the parties' written contract required the entity to make, holding that governmental immunity applied and that chapter 271 of the Texas Local Government Code did not waive the entity's immunity. Vizant Technologies sued the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Board for, inter alia, breach of contract, alleging in part that the Board failed to make a promised good-faith effort to authorize increased compensation than that set forth in the parties' contract. The Board filed a plea to the jurisdiction, asserting that governmental immunity barred Vizant's claims. The trial court denied the plea. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of the Board's plea against Vizant's breach of contract claim, holding that, while governmental immunity applied, chapter 271 of the Texas Local Government Code waived the Board's immunity against that claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that governmental immunity barred all of Vizant's claims against the Board and that chapter 271 did not waive that immunity. View "Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board v. Vizant Technologies, LLC" on Justia Law

by
In this breach of contract case filed by Employees against Employer, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court and rendered judgment that Employees taking nothing, holding that there was not legally sufficient evidence that would have allowed reasonable, fair-minded people to find that Employer and Employees impliedly agreed to change the compensation of Employees from payment based on hours worked to fixed annual salaries. Employees were four nurses who worked for McAllen Hospitals, L.P. (Employer). Employees were paid based on the hours they worked. In their lawsuit against Employer, Employees alleging that Employer had promised to pay them annual salaries and had breached that agreement. The jury found that the parties had agreed Employees would receive a fixed amount of pay and that Employer breached that agreement. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the jury's finding that Employer agreed to pay Employees a fixed salary. View "McAllen Hospitals, LP v. Lopez" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals finding that Petitioner waived the argument that his contractual waiver of the statute of limitations was void as against public policy, holding that the court of appeals erred in declining to reach Petitioner's argument but that, when the enforceable portions of Petitioner's contractual waiver were applied, limitations did not bar Respondent's suit against Petitioner. Petitioner guaranteed a loan secured by real property. When the borrower defaulted, Respondent Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s successor foreclosed on the real property securing the loan. After purchasing property at a foreclosure sale Respondent sued Petitioner to recover the deficiency. Petitioner moved for summary judgment, arguing that Respondent's claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations for deficiency claims. Respondent moved for partial summary judgment on the grounds that Petitioner waived Tex. Prop. Code 51.003's statute of limitations when he signed the guaranty agreement. The trial court granted summary judgment for Respondent. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner waived his public policy argument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioner contractually waived the two-year statute of limitations and that a four-year statute of limitations applied to Respondent's claims; and (2) because Respondent sued Petitioner within that four-year period, limitations did not bar the suit. View "Godoy v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that, under David v. Inwood North Professional Group-Phase I, 747 S.W.2d 373 (Tex. 1988), a tenant can terminate a commercial lease contract for the landlord's prior material breach and that the evidence offered to prove attorney's fees in this case was insufficient for fee-shifting awards. After terminating its lease early and vacating the premises while still owing unpaid rent a commercial tenant (Tenant) sued Landlord for breach of contract and breach of the implied warranty of suitability and also sought a declaratory judgment. The jury found that Landlord materially breached the lease agreement first, Landlord breached the implied warranty of suitability, and Tenant had the right to terminate the lease agreement. The trial court awarded Tenant attorney's fees. The court of appeals affirmed. After explaining the prevailing party's evidentiary burden and the standard for shifting reasonable and necessary attorney's fees to the non-prevailing party, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment as to the attorney's fee award but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) a commercial tenant can terminate a commercial lease based on the landlord's prior material breach; but (2) the evidence used to prove attorney's fees was not legally sufficient to support the fee award. View "Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals that the parol evidence rule barred evidence and enforcement of an agreement through which Plaintiff claims to have satisfied his debt to Defendant, holding that the parol evidence rule did not preclude enforcement of the agreement, and therefore, Plaintiff met his burden to establish a prima facie case for the falsity of Defendant's liens. Plaintiff brought this action claiming that after he fully satisfied his debt to Defendant, Defendant filed fraudulent liens and knowingly and intentionally slandered Plaintiff's title to mineral interests that secured that debt. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the claims, arguing that Plaintiff could not establish prima facie support for his slander-of-title and fraudulent-lien claims because the parol evidence rule applied and precluded Plaintiff from establishing any enforceable agreement that satisfied his debt. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the parol evidence rule did not preclude enforcement of the agreement through which Plaintiff claimed to have satisfied his debt to Defendant, and that Plaintiff thus met his burden to establish a prima facie case for the falsity of Defendant's liens. View "West v. Quintanilla" on Justia Law

by
In this case involving a contract to purchase a business-management software system, the Supreme Court held that contractual disclaimers barred Buyer from recovering in tort for misrepresentations Seller made both to induce Buyer to enter into the contract and to induce Buyer later to agree to amend the contract but that Seller’s breach of contract caused Buyer to suffer damages. Buyer sued Seller for, inter alia, common law fraud, fraudulent inducement, and breach of contract. The jury found Seller liable on all claims. The jury awarded damages for fraudulent inducement and common law fraud but awarded zero damages for breach of contract. The court of appeals affirmed liability for fraudulent inducement but reversed the fraud award, concluding that the claim was based on the same misrepresentations as the fraudulent-inducement claim. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Buyer could not recover from recover for fraudulent inducement or common law fraud because Buyer expressly disclaimed any reliance on Seller’s misrepresentations; and (2) Buyer was entitled to a new trial on its claim for breach of contract because the evidence conclusively established that Buyer suffered some amount of damages as a result of Seller’s breach. View "International Business Machines Corp. v. Lufkin Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In this breach of contract case, the Supreme Court held that the waiver of governmental immunity for certain claims provided by the Local Government Contract Claims Act (Act), Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code 271.151-.160, at the time this case arose applies when the remedy sought is specific performance rather than money damages. The Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group sued the City of Antonio alleging that the City failed to comply with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the parties with respect to certain property. For its breach of contract claim, the Restoration Group sought only specific performance. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the Restoration Group. The court of appeals reversed, ruling that the City was immune from suit and that the Act did not waive the City’s immunity from suit for specific performance of a contract. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the City acted in its government capacity when it entered the MOU and, therefore, enjoyed immunity from suit “in the first instance”; but (2) the Act waived the City’s immunity from suit on the Restoration Group’s claim for specific performance. View "Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group v. City of San Antonio" on Justia Law

by
In this interlocutory appeal from an order denying a city’s plea to the jurisdiction and alternative motion for summary judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment sustaining the city’s jurisdictional plea, holding that Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code 271.152, which waives a city’s immunity from suit on certain contracts, did not apply to the underlying claims. Section 271.152 provides that a governmental entity that is authorized to contract and that enters into a contract waives its immunity to suit for purposes of adjudicating a claim under the contract. In the instant case, Plaintiffs, employees of the City of Denton, sued the City for breach of contract, alleging that the City’s policies and procedures manual (the policy) constituted a unilateral contract that the City breached. The trial court denied the City’s jurisdictional plea. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that the policy created a unilateral contract that certain employees could enforce under the statutory waiver. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the policy did not create an enforceable, written contract, a requirement for governmental to be waived under section 271.152. View "City of Denton v. Rushing" on Justia Law

by
In this contract dispute over whether a municipally created economic development corporation is entitled to immunity from suit as if it were a political subdivision of the state, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment denying an economic development corporation’s plea to the jurisdiction, holding that economic development corporations are not governmental entities in their own right and, therefore, are not entitled to governmental immunity. Rosenberg Development Corporation (RDC), an economic development corporation created by the City of Rosenberg under the authority of the Development Corporation Act, executed a contract with Imperial Performing Arts, a nonprofit organization, to renovate a historic theater. When RDC refused to extend the deadline to complete the theater’s renovation, Imperial ceased work on the theater project. This dispute followed. The immunity issue on appeal was limited to Imperial’s breach of contract and declaratory judgment claims. The trial court denied RDC’s plea to the jurisdiction, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that economic development corporations are not governmental entities immune from suit. View "Rosenburg Development Corp. v. Imperial Performing Arts, Inc." on Justia Law