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Dallas’ Hankinson, Levinger Named Among State’s Top Appellate Attorneys by Chambers USA

DALLAS – Deborah Hankinson and Jeffrey Levinger, founding partners in the Dallas-based civil appellate firm of Hankinson Levinger LLP, are recognized as two of the state’s top appellate lawyers in the prestigious Chambers USA 2010 legal directory. The U.K.-based publication exclusively lists law firms and… + read more

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DALLAS – Deborah Hankinson and Jeffrey Levinger, founding partners in the Dallas-based civil appellate firm of Hankinson Levinger LLP, are recognized as two of the state’s top appellate lawyers in the prestigious Chambers USA 2010 legal directory. The U.K.-based publication exclusively lists law firms and attorneys who are strongly recommended based on in-depth interviews with peers and clients.

Ms. Hankinson, a former Texas Supreme Court Justice, practices appellate law and serves as a mediator and arbitrator in cases involving a variety of complex legal issues. In addition to her work at Texas’ highest civil appellate court, Ms. Hankinson previously served as a Justice on the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas.

The publication notes that the “incredibly talented” Ms. Hankinson “is recommended for her intimate knowledge of judiciary procedures and her seasoned approach.” She was recognized earlier this year as one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America by Lawdragon; one of D Magazine’s Best Women Lawyers in Dallas; and as one of the country’s top appellate attorneys in The Best Lawyers in America. She has been recognized among Texas’ top lawyers each year since the Texas Super Lawyers list first was published in 2003, and is ranked by Texas Lawyer newspaper as one of the state’s “Go-To” appellate attorneys, 2007.

Mr. Levinger, who has practiced appellate law for more than 25 years, is cited by Chambers as a “highly experienced, talented and knowledgeable appellate specialist”. Earlier this year, Mr. Levinger was named to “The Defenders,” an elite list of North Texas’ top business defense attorneys published by the Dallas Business Journal. He currently serves as Chairman of the State Bar of Texas Committee on Pattern Jury Charges (Malpractice, Premises, and Products) and is an officer of the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section. He has been recognized among Texas’ top lawyers each year since the Texas Super Lawyers list first was published in 2003, and also was honored earlier this year in D Magazine’s Best Lawyers in Dallas listing. Mr. Levinger also is listed in The Best Lawyers in America as one of the nation’s top lawyers in both appeals and commercial litigation, since 2008.

Hankinson Levinger, the preeminent civil appellate firm in the Southwest, provides clients with innovative legal insights and judicial perspective in all phases of litigation. The firm’s attorneys work with trial teams to develop strategies designed to put a case in the best position before, during, and after trial. Hankinson Levinger represents national clients, regional companies, governmental bodies, and individuals with trial and appellate matters, and offers mediation and arbitration services as well.

Learn more about the firm at http://www.hankinsonlaw.com.

For more information on Hankinson Levinger and the Chambers honor, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.

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Hankinson Client Prevails in Trespass to Try Title Action

In this trespass to try title action, the plaintiff operator had filed suit against another operator who had purchased a lease on a tract of land on which the plaintiff also claimed to hold a lease. Ruling in favor of the defendant, represented by Deborah… + read more

In this trespass to try title action, the plaintiff operator had filed suit against another operator who had purchased a lease on a tract of land on which the plaintiff also claimed to hold a lease. Ruling in favor of the defendant, represented by Deborah Hankinson, the court of appeals held that the plaintiff had introduced insufficient evidence at trial to establish superior title out of a common source. The court reasoned the operator could not fill a gap in record title through the oral expert testimony of an attorney, and that documentary evidence is required to establish title. The court of appeals also concluded that the plaintiff had introduced no evidence to prove title by prior possession of the property through production from wells on the lease. McCammon v. Ischy, 2010 WL 1930149 (Tex. App. – Austin 2010, pet. denied).

 

Take-Nothing Judgment in Intellectual Property Dispute Affirmed on Appeal

In Rusty’s Weigh Scales v. North Texas Scales, the plaintiff alleged that NTS misappropriated trade secrets when it repaired industrial weighing scales originally sold and programmed by the plaintiff. Hankinson LLP was hired to represent NTS after the trial court initially rendered judgment for the… + read more

In Rusty’s Weigh Scales v. North Texas Scales, the plaintiff alleged that NTS misappropriated trade secrets when it repaired industrial weighing scales originally sold and programmed by the plaintiff. Hankinson LLP was hired to represent NTS after the trial court initially rendered judgment for the plaintiff. Deborah Hankinson successfully persuaded the trial court to withdraw the first judgment and render judgment that the plaintiff take nothing.  After briefing and argument, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of NTS, concluding that the plaintiff provided insufficient evidence to support any damages award. Rusty’s Weigh Scales v. North Texas Scales, 314 S.W.3d 105 (Tex.App.—El Paso 2010, no pet.).

 

Hankinson Client Prevails in Indemnification Offset Argument

Manchester, the manufacturer of an LP-gas cylinder that exploded, appealed from the trial court’s denial of its indemnification claim against ECI, the manufacturer of the cylinder’s valve assembly component. Ruling in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, ECI, the Court of Appeals held Manchester was a… + read more

Manchester, the manufacturer of an LP-gas cylinder that exploded, appealed from the trial court’s denial of its indemnification claim against ECI, the manufacturer of the cylinder’s valve assembly component. Ruling in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, ECI, the Court of Appeals held Manchester was a manufacturer as to ECI within the meaning of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, and not just a mere seller. Because the injured claimants’ pleadings in the underlying products liability case alleged that both the valve and cylinder were defective, both ECI and Manchester had a duty to indemnify each other. The proof at the indemnification trial, however, established that neither the cylinder nor the valve was defective. Therefore, the parties’ duties of indemnification offset each other. Manchester Tank & Equip. Co. v. Engineered Controls Intern., Inc., 311 S.W.3d 573 (Tex. App. – Waco 2009, pet. denied).

 

Meaning of Ambiguous Indemnity Provision Properly Submitted to Jury

Pursuant to a stock purchase agreement, Maxus sold Occidental all the stock of a subsidiary and agreed to indemnify Occidental against claims arising out of the subsidiary’s prior chemical business. The court of appeals held that the indemnification provision was ambiguous as to whether the… + read more

Pursuant to a stock purchase agreement, Maxus sold Occidental all the stock of a subsidiary and agreed to indemnify Occidental against claims arising out of the subsidiary’s prior chemical business. The court of appeals held that the indemnification provision was ambiguous as to whether the indemnity was limited to a twelve year period or was indefinite in duration. Because of the ambiguity, the court held the trial court had properly submitted the question of its meaning to the jury, which had found in favor of Occidental. The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of Occidental, which was represented by Deborah Hankinson. Maxus Energy Corp. v. Occidental Chemical Corp., 244 S.W.3d 875 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2008, pet. denied).

 

Supreme Court Strengthens Causation Requirement in Asbestos Cases

In an asbestos-related products liability and negligence case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, Borg-Warner, holding a plaintiff must prove that exposure to the defendant’s product was a “substantial factor” in bringing about his asbestosis. The expert’s testimony that plaintiff had… + read more

In an asbestos-related products liability and negligence case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, Borg-Warner, holding a plaintiff must prove that exposure to the defendant’s product was a “substantial factor” in bringing about his asbestosis. The expert’s testimony that plaintiff had been exposed to “some asbestos” was insufficient. Instead, the plaintiff was required to introduce evidence showing the approximate amount of Borg-Warner fibers to which he had been exposed. The plaintiff further had to establish and that this exposure sufficiently contributed to the total dose of asbestos he inhaled such that it could be considered a substantial factor causing his asbestosis. Borg-Warner Corp. v. Flores, 232 S.W.3d 765 (Tex. 2007).

 

Deputy Constables Entitled to Procedural, not Substantive, Due Process

When a newly elected constable refused to swear in three deputy constables, they brought suit against the county claiming substantive and procedural due process violations. The Supreme Court held that as civil servants who could be dismissed only for just cause, the deputies had no… + read more

When a newly elected constable refused to swear in three deputy constables, they brought suit against the county claiming substantive and procedural due process violations. The Supreme Court held that as civil servants who could be dismissed only for just cause, the deputies had no substantive due process rights in their continued employment. Even if they did, however, the county’s termination of their employment was not so arbitrary and conscience-shocking that it violated substantive due process. Because they were not given the procedural due process that the county’s civil service system required, the deputies were entitled to nominal damages without proof of actual injury. On remand, if the county establishes just cause to terminate them, the deputies will only be entitled to damages directly resulting from the denial of a hearing, but if the county does not show just cause, the deputies may recover damages resulting from their dismissal. Deborah Hankinson and Rick Thompson represented the County of Dallas. County of Dallas v. Wiland, 216 S.W.3d 344 (Tex. 2007).

 

City Waives Immunity only to Extent Claims against City Offset City’s Claims

The Supreme Court held that when a municipality and another party bring suit against each other, the city only waives its immunity to the extent the claims against it offset its own affirmative claims. As to any damages claim against the city that exceeds the… + read more

The Supreme Court held that when a municipality and another party bring suit against each other, the city only waives its immunity to the extent the claims against it offset its own affirmative claims. As to any damages claim against the city that exceeds the amount of the offset, the trial court has no jurisdiction. The Court further held that the Texas Tort Claims Act only waives a municipality’s immunity when the city is the user of the property causing injury, which the City of Dallas was not in this case. Deborah Hankinson represented the City in this important decision. Reata Const. Corp. v. City of Dallas, 197 S.W.3d 371 (Tex. 2006).

 

Preferential Rights Expire upon Final Production Payment

Representing First Permian, Deborah Hankinson successfully argued that the preferential right reserved by the assignors of certain oil and gas leases had terminated upon the assignees’ final production payment. The court reasoned that the preferential right did not create an independent right for the assignors… + read more

Representing First Permian, Deborah Hankinson successfully argued that the preferential right reserved by the assignors of certain oil and gas leases had terminated upon the assignees’ final production payment. The court reasoned that the preferential right did not create an independent right for the assignors to enjoy forever, but was intended to exist only as long as necessary to protect the assignors’ interest in the full payment for the leases. First Permian, L.L.C. v. Graham, 212 S.W.3d 368 (Tex. App. – Amarillo 2006, pet. denied).

 

Judicial Candidate Reinstated on Ballot

In this Texas Election Code case, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision to remove from the primary ballot the name of a candidate for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The candidate, represented by Deborah Hankinson and Rick Thompson, had timely filed a… + read more

In this Texas Election Code case, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision to remove from the primary ballot the name of a candidate for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The candidate, represented by Deborah Hankinson and Rick Thompson, had timely filed a lengthy petition signed by hundreds of eligible voters to have his name placed on the Republican ballot, but due to a clerical error, several of the pages failed to state he was running for “Place 8” on that court. The Republican Party chair overlooked the defects and approved the petition, which another candidate then challenged. The Supreme Court held that when a challenge is made based on facial defects in a petition that could have been timely cured had the party chair not overlooked them, the trial court must abate the challenge and allow the candidate the opportunity to cure. The Court reasoned that candidates should have the same opportunity to cure as a proper review before the filing deadline would have allowed them. Facial defects should exclude a candidate from the ballot only when a proper review by the party chair would have led to the same result. In re Francis, 186 S.W.3d 534 (Tex. 2006).

 

Hankinson Client Prevails in Preferential Rights Dispute

Non-operating working interest owners brought suit against an oil and gas unit operator, claiming the operator had violated the preferential rights provision of the operating agreement. Affirming the judgment of the trial court for the operator, the court of appeals held the operator had complied… + read more

Non-operating working interest owners brought suit against an oil and gas unit operator, claiming the operator had violated the preferential rights provision of the operating agreement. Affirming the judgment of the trial court for the operator, the court of appeals held the operator had complied with the terms of the notice provision. The court held the provision did not require the operator to provide detailed information to the plaintiffs about how the total purchase price for all the unit operator’s property in the area was allocated to the unit in question. Additionally, the court concluded plaintiffs’ affiliate had not been properly elected successor operator because plaintiffs had failed to count the operator’s votes. In this appeal, Deborah Hankinson successfully represented Occidental Petroleum. Fasken Land and Minerals, Ltd. v. Occidental Permian, Ltd., 225 S.W.3d 577 (Tex. App. – El Paso 2005, pet. denied).

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