The Texas Supreme Court today announced its fall schedule to hear oral arguments for previously accepted cases. From Sept. 13 through Nov. 10, the high court will hear oral arguments in 26 cases — a typical number considering the court generally hears 85 to 90 cases each term, says Osler McCarthy, the court’s attorney for public information. The court allots lawyers for both sides 20 minutes to present their cases, but McCarthy says the court rarely observes that time limit as justices commence with pointed questions for the lawyers before them. “If the red light is on and someone is at the podium, and someone on the bench has a question, generally those questions will be answered,” he says. McCarthy writes in an e-mail that he thinks the following scheduled cases have interesting facts or legal questions:
Evanston Insurance Co. v. Legacy of Life Inc.
“The facts in this one look interesting, to be sure. An interesting legal twist is that Texas does not allow mental anguish damages, as a [general] rule, without some evidence of physical injury. But this seems to raise the possibility from language in the insurance policy,” McCarthy writes.
Jack Edward Milner v. Vicki Ann Milner
“The Milner case may be interesting to law firm partners facing their own divorces (or divorce by one of their partners). . . . I would think the family lawyers would have an interest,” McCarthy writes.
Rusk State Hospital v. Dennis Black and Pam Black
The case “involves a procedural issue that appellate lawyers (and the trial lawyers who often would be responsible to teeing up appellate issues) get their jollies over,” he writes.
Texas Electric Utility Construction Ltd. v. Infrasource Underground Construction Services LLC
“The issue is whether Texas should adopt the ‘tort of another’ exception to the general rule disallowing attorneys fees to be recovered as actual damages,” writes McCarthy.
City of Austin v. Harry M. Whittington, et al.
McCarthy notes the case has an interesting issue and involves Austin lawyer Whittington, who was shot in the face in a 2006 hunting accident by then-Vice President Dick Cheney.
Matthew W. Wasserman, M.D. v. Christina Bergeron Gugel
Texas West Oaks Hospital LP v. Frederick Williams
“Both cases are more twists on what’s a health care-liability claim – and, as a practical matter, whether the case proceeds if so because [a] medical-expert report was not filed,” McCarthy writes.
Venkateswarlu Thota, M.D., and North Texas Cardiology Center v. Margaret Young
“[T]he damages-instruction issue could have sweeping effect . . . not sure how often it comes up in litigation,” McCarthy writes.
Safeshred Inc. v. Louis Martinez III
“Sabine Pilot is one of the few exceptions to Texas’ employment-at-will doctrine (employee fired for refusing to break the law). Here the issue is . . . when a wrongful termination is based on Sabine Pilot, whether that’s enough to get punitive,” writes McCarthy.
-- Angela Morris