Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of Purchasers of Estate Property

June 13, 2018 in Case Summaries

In a long-running dispute between Stanley Graff and the purchasers of a multi-million-dollar apartment complex owned by the estate of Graff’s father, Levinger PC persuaded the Dallas Court of Appeals to affirm the probate court’s summary judgment rejecting Graff’s effort to rescind or recover damages arising from the October 2000 purchase of the complex.  Among other rulings, the Court held that Graff’s claims of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud accrued by August 2002 and thus were barred by the four-year statute of limitations; that the independent executor had the authority to sell the real property and thus the transaction should not be rescinded; and that Graff’s claims for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty against the purchasers failed because there was no evidence that they assisted an appraiser in his valuation of the property.  Graff v. 2920 Park Grove Venture, Ltd., No. 05-16-01411-CV, 2018 WL 2949158 (Tex. App.—Dallas June 13, 2018, pet. denied) (mem. op.).

Courts:  Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Subject Matter:  Business Litigation, Ethics & Professional Liability

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Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms $351 Million Judgment in Favor of Highland Capital Affiliate Against Credit Suisse

Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms $351 Million Judgment in Favor of Highland Capital Affiliate Against Credit Suisse.

February 20, 2018 in Case Summaries

Jeff Levinger assisted the trial team at Reid Collins & Tsai in securing the affirmance of a $351 million judgment in favor of an affiliate of Highland Capital Management against Credit Suisse. The judgment consisted of $211 million in actual damages and $140 million in pre- and post-judgment interest, and was based on fraud and breach of contract claims regarding an inflated appraisal that Credit Suisse used to induce the Highland affiliate to finance the Lake Las Vegas development. Applying New York law, which the parties had chosen to govern their relationship, the Dallas court of appeals rejected Credit Suisse’s argument that certain disclaimers in the loan documents protected it from liability for the falsified appraisal. The court also rejected Credit Suisse’s contention that a jury’s award of out-of-pocket damages for fraudulent inducement foreclosed the trial court from subsequently awarding rescissory damages in a bench trial on the remaining claims. Credit Suisse AG, Cayman Islands Branch v. Claymore Holdings, LLC, 2018 WL 947902 (Tex. App. ‑‑ Dallas Feb. 20, 2018, pet. filed) (mem. op.).

 

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Oil & Gas/Real Estate

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Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms Jury Finding that Goodyear Was Grossly Negligent in Exposing Deceased Tire Builder to Asbestos

September 13, 2017 in Case Summaries

Working closely with trial lawyer Chris Panatier, Jeff Levinger convinced the Dallas Court of Appeals to affirm a jury’s finding that the gross negligence of Goodyear at its tire manufacturing facility in Tyler caused its employee Carl Rogers to be exposed to significant amounts of asbestos, which resulted in his death from mesothelioma. Based on extensive expert testimony and historical data concerning the dangers of asbestos, the court of appeals upheld the jury’s finding that Goodyear’s conduct—especially its failure to monitor its employees’ exposure to asbestos for over ten years—involved an extreme degree of risk, and that Goodyear had subjective awareness of that risk but proceeded with conscious indifference to the safety of its employees. The court also rejected Goodyear’s argument that Rogers had not established causation by adequately ruling out the radiation that was used to successfully treat a previous bout with lung cancer. Finally, over a dissent by Justice Ada Brown, the majority suggested a remittitur of the damages awarded under the exemplary-damages cap statute based on its determination that the evidence did not support the entirety of the award for past and future economic damages. The Texas Supreme Court denied Goodyear’s petition for review after full briefing on the merits. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Rogers, 538 S.W.3d 637 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2017, pet. denied).

Courts: Supreme Court of Texas, Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Products Liability & Personal Injury, Labor & Employment

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Dallas Court of Appeals Reverses Trial Court’s Assertion of Personal Jurisdiction Over Mexican Reinsurance Broker

Dallas Court of Appeals Reverses Trial Court’s Assertion of Personal Jurisdiction Over Mexican Reinsurance Broker.

August 22, 2017 in Case Summaries

Levinger PC teamed with trial lawyer Thomas Cook of Zelle LLP to persuade the Dallas Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s assertion of personal jurisdiction over Cooper Gay Mexico, a reinsurance broker based in Mexico City. Elamex, S.A. de C.V., a Mexican food manufacturer with plants in Juarez and El Paso, had sought to hold Cooper Gay Mexico liable for more than $25 million as a result of an excess insurer’s refusal to pay Elamex for fire damages to its Juarez plant. After an extensive analysis of Cooper Gay Mexico’s efforts in seeking to obtain the excess insurance and in placing the reinsurance for the excess policy, the court of appeals concluded that Cooper Gay Mexico neither had any contacts with Texas nor sought any benefit by trying to avail itself of jurisdiction in Texas. Rather, the evidence showed that all of Cooper Gay Mexico’s relevant contacts were either with its affiliate in Florida or the excess insurer in Mexico. Cooper Gay Martinez del Rio y Asociados Intermediaros de Reaseguro S.A. de C.V. v. Elamex, S.A. de C.V., No. 05‑16‑01436‑CV, 2017 WL 359960 (Tex. App. ‑‑ Dallas Aug. 22, 2017, no pet.).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Procedural and Evidentiary Issues

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Dallas Court of Appeals Again Stops Forced Sale of Valuable Partnership Property

Dallas Court of Appeals Again Stops Forced Sale of Valuable Partnership Property

April 6, 2017 in Case Summaries

For a second time, Levinger PC persuaded the Dallas Court of Appeals to reject a trial court order requiring the forced sale of valuable real property over the objection of client Steven Spiritas, a 50% partner in the entity that owns the property.  The trial court had granted partial summary judgment declaring the occurrence of a winding-up event, and then appointed a winding-up representative to sell the partnership’s property.  Spiritas brought a petition for writ of mandamus to challenge the winding-up orders, arguing that the trial court’s appointment of a winding-up representative impermissibly allowed execution on a nonappealable, interlocutory order.  The court of appeals granted Spiritas’s petition, holding that the trial court had abused its discretion by allowing the execution of a non-final order, and that mandamus relief was available to prevent the property from being sold before Spiritas could exercise his appellate rights.  In re Steven Spiritas, Individually and as Trustee of the Spiritas SF 1999 Trust, No. 05-16-00791-CV, 2017 WL 1281394 (Tex. App.-Dallas Apr. 6, 2017) (orig. proceeding).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Oil & Gas/Real Estate

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