In Teel v. Sumrow, the Fifth Court reversed and rendered judgment for the defense in a suit for breach of fiduciary duty, finding that limitations had run on the claim as a matter of law. “[W]e note that the letter Sumrow wrote to Dr. Bray in July 2008 indicates that by that time, Sumrow knew or suspected Teel had engaged in some wrongful conduct to wrongfully deprive Sumrow of money Sumrow believed Teel owed him (‘screw me out of my money’).” As for reasonable diligence, the Court observed: “[I]n financial affairs, many citizens take a good deal on faith – not everyone zealously checks his mail every day or his bank statement every month – but it would not require ‘daily’ or even monthly diligence to discover the injury alleged in this case.” No. 05-16-00840-CV (Nov. 13, 2017) (mem. op.)
It’s that time of year again. The polls are open until the end of November to vote for next year’s listings of Texas SuperLawyers; online voting can be done at the SuperLawyers website, here.
A trial was held, but after the verdict, a bankruptcy caused several years of inactivity before entry of final judgment in 2015. Unfortunately, in the meantime, a significant part of the reporter’s notes had been lost or destroyed. While Tex. R. App. 34.6 can require a new trial in such a situation if the loss occurs through no fault of the appealing party, the Fifth Court found it did not apply here. In Piotrowski v. Minns, the Texas Supreme Court noted that the applicable Government Code provision “authorizes reporters to cull stale notes from their records after three years when no party has requested otherwise,” whcih means that without a specific request from a litigant, “the litigant is not free from fault if the notes are destroyed as the statute authorizes. 873 S.W.2d 368, 371 (Tex. 1993). The Court found that Piotrowski was good law and controlled here, where no such request had been made in the relevant time period. Geeting v. Dyer, No. 05-16-00128-CV (Nov. 7, 2017) (mem. op.)
The opinion in 7-Eleven, Inc. v. Cardtronics, Inc. reminds both of the importance of proving irreparable injury to obtain a temporary injunction, and the deferential standard of review if the trial court denies relief. Specially, 7-Eleven alleged that cancellation of a contract involving ATMs would cause business disruption, but the Fifth Court saw the evidence differently:
“Seltzer’s testimony is nothing more than fear and speculation as to what may occur unsupported by any relevant data. Although the Agreement had been in place for almost ten years, 7-Eleven offered no evidence to show how over-the-counter sales have been impacted by the addition of the ATMs, or as specific to this case, the impact of the Allpoint network. This does not mean 7-Eleven had to prove any specific amount of damage, only that it needed to offer some concrete evidence that damages will in fact occur by something more than Seltzer’s unsupported conclusory opinion. As for Updyke, he testified only that the retailer loses between 65 and 80 percent of those ‘ATM customers, ATM transactions’ over time. He specifically stated he was not referring to over-the-counter sales customers. To the extent 7-Eleven relies on Cardtronics’s promotional material used to retain 7-Eleven’s business, the trial court could have reasonably seen that as nothing more than a sales pitch, not concrete evidence of specific irreparable harm. Under the particular facts before us, we conclude the trial court could have reasonably determined that 7-Eleven’s claim of harm is speculative and that 7-Eleven failed to demonstrate irreparable injury.
No. 05-17-00623-CV (Nov. 10, 2017) (mem. op.)
In Nu-Build & Assocs. v. Sooners Group, LP, the Fifth Court drove home a recent holding about damages for cost of completion: “We agree because (i) a party seeking completion cost damages in tort and contract cases must prove that those costs are reasonable; and (ii) proof of amounts charged and paid, alone, is no evidence the payment was reasonable. Because Sooners adduced no evidence that the $3.6 million it paid to complete project was reasonable, we sustain Nu-Build’s fourth issue and [reverse and render].Mustang Pipeline Co., Inc. v. Driver Pipeline Co., Inc., 134 S.W.3d 195, 200–01 (Tex. 2004) (per curiam); 701 Katy Bldg., L.P. v. John Wheat Gibson, P.C., No. 05-16-00193-CV, 2017 WL 3634335, at *9 (Tex. App.—Dallas Aug. 24, 2017, no pet. h.) (mem. op.).
In recent years, the U.S. and Texas Supreme Court have been widely recognized as limiting the reach of long-arm personal jurisdiction. While the necessary showing is now more difficult in some case, it is far from impossible, as shown by Colmen LLC v. Santander Consumer USA, In that case, among other “[s]ince . . . 2015 . . . Colmen reached out to Santander in Texas to solicit the purchase of the fifty-two separate installment sales contracts at issue in this lawsuit. As required, for each individual contract, Colmen forwarded its proposed terms and conditions and all contractually required information, including customer credit-related information, to Santander’s offices in Texas.” No. 05-17-00101-CV (Nov. 3, 2017).
After the commercial, at about 2:30 in this news segment, I offer a couple of thoughts about recent developments in the Russia investigation.
Recent decisions have grappled with whether a “memorandum of decision” qualifies as a final judgment for purposes of starting appellate deadlines; the recent case of In re RKK further contributes to that dicsussion, finding that the trial court’s memorandum in that case did start the clock. No. 05-17-00794-CV (Oct. 25, 2017) (mem. op.)
In an uncommon but fundamental challenge to an arbitration agreement, the plaintiff relied upon his inability to understand English. The Fifth Court rejected this challenge under general principles of contract formation:
“It is unusual that MiCocina translated the Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate, summary plan description, and handbook into Spanish, but not the one-page Acknowledgment form. However, on this record, there is no evidence of a fraudulent misrepresentation or trickery that would relieve Balderas of the consequences of failing to read or have read to him a document he voluntarily signed. In light of the obligation an illiterate party has to have a document read to them before they sign it and the lack of evidence of a fraudulent misrepresentation or trickery, we conclude Balderas is bound by his signature on the Acknowledgment. Accordingly, Balderas failed to prove procedural unconscionability and fraudulent inducement.”