Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

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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Amarillo Appellate Court Upholds Vacatur of Multi-Million Dollar Arbitration Award.

Amarillo Appellate Court Upholds Vacatur of Multi-Million Dollar Arbitration Award.

February 14, 2017 in Case Summaries

Working closely with Michael Gruber and his trial team at Gruber Elrod Johansen Hail Shank, Jeff Levinger wrote the appellee’s brief that persuaded the Amarillo Court of Appeals to uphold the vacatur of a $2.3 million arbitration award against Raeanne Martin in a dispute among the shareholders of a closely-held Texas corporation.  Although the Court noted that review of an arbitration award is “extraordinarily narrow,” it held that the three-member arbitration panel had exceeded its powers by hearing and deciding the dispute even though the parties had previously signed a Rule 11 settlement agreement.  Having affirmed the vacatur of the award on that ground, the Court did not reach the second basis for vacatur  that the panel also had exceeded its powers by granting relief that was not authorized under the parties’ shareholder agreement.  Higginson v. Martin, No. 07-15-00343-CV, 2017 WL 603626 (Tex. App.-Amarillo Feb. 14, 2017, pet. denied).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Procedural and Evidentiary Issues

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Judgment Against General Contractor Is Reversed Based On Erroneous Jury Charge Submission

Judgment Against General Contractor Is Reversed Based On Erroneous Jury Charge Submission

October 27, 2016 in Case Summaries

 

Led by the advocacy of Carl Cecere, Levinger PC persuaded the Dallas Court of Appeals to reverse a judgment of nearly $1.5 million against general contractor Viking Healthcare in favor of Zeig Electric, a subcontractor, in connection with the construction of a specialty hospital in Sherman, Texas. The appellate court determined that no evidence supported the liability question submitted to the jury, which asked whether Viking and a project manager that was not a party to the subcontract “failed to comply with the Agreement” with Zeig. Despite the absence of evidence, the court remanded the case for a new trial “in the interest of justice.” The Supreme Court denied review after requesting briefing on both Zeig’s petition and its motion for rehearing. Viking Healthcare, LLC v. Zeig Electric, Inc., No. 05‑15‑00835‑CV, 2016 WL 7448335 (Tex. App. — Dallas Oct. 27, 2016, pet. denied) (mem. op.).

 

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts, Supreme Court of Texas

Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Procedural & Evidentiary Issues

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