News Honors Case Summaries

Archives: Jennifer Rangel Stagen

 

Texas Supreme Court Eliminates $9.6 Million Judgment for Injured Worker Based on the Absence of a Duty

In a highly watched case regarding the duties owed by former property owners, Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, Rick Thompson, and Jennifer Stagen successfully represented Occidental Chemical Corporation and persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to reverse a $9.6 million negligence judgment awarded to a worker who… + read more

In a highly watched case regarding the duties owed by former property owners, Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, Rick Thompson, and Jennifer Stagen successfully represented Occidental Chemical Corporation and persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to reverse a $9.6 million negligence judgment awarded to a worker who was partially blinded by acid at a chemical plant years after Occidental’s sale of the plant. Specifically, the Supreme Court addressed whether a property owner who allegedly creates a dangerous condition owes a duty in premises liability to warn of the dangerous condition or to make it safe and a duty in negligence to use reasonable care not to create the dangerous condition in the first place. In answering that question in the negative, the Court rejected the notion that a property owner acts as both owner and independent contractor when improving its own property, subjecting itself to either premises-liability or ordinary-negligence principles depending on the injured party’s pleadings. Instead, the Court held that premises-liability principles apply to a property owner who creates a dangerous condition on its property, and that the claim of a person injured by the condition remains a premises-liability claim as to the owner-creator, regardless of how the injured party chooses to plead it. Because Occidental sold the property eight years before the plaintiff’s accident, the Supreme Court held that Occidental owed no duty of care as that duty had passed to its vendee. The Court therefore reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing. See Occidental Chemical Corp. v. Jenkins, No. 13-0961, 2016 WL 82662 (Tex. Jan. 8, 2016).

 

Take-Nothing Judgment in Favor of Contractor Affirmed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen successfully represented Triad Electric and Controls, Inc. on appeal from a take-nothing judgment rendered in Triad’s favor after a multi-week jury trial in which the plaintiff, MEMC Pasadena, Inc., sought over $25 million in lost profits allegedly sustained by MEMC’s… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen successfully represented Triad Electric and Controls, Inc. on appeal from a take-nothing judgment rendered in Triad’s favor after a multi-week jury trial in which the plaintiff, MEMC Pasadena, Inc., sought over $25 million in lost profits allegedly sustained by MEMC’s polysilicon manufacturing facility from a power outage during the construction of an expansion project. After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District of Texas in Houston rejected MEMC’s challenges to the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence and the jury charge, concluded that the evidence supported the jury’s findings that MEMC agreed to exclude consequential lost profits in its contract with Triad and was estopped from claiming otherwise, and held that the economic loss rule bars MEMC’s recovery of negligence damages from Triad. The court therefore affirmed the trial court’s judgment that MEMC take nothing from Triad. MEMC Pasadena, Inc. v. Riddle Power, LLC and Triad Electric and Controls, Inc., No. 14-13-00117-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___, 2015 WL 4628143 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 4, 2015, no pet. hist.).

 

Order Granting New Trial Reviewed and Vacated on Mandamus

Brett Kutnick led a team of Hankinson lawyers, including Deborah Hankinson, Joseph Morris, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Stephanie Nelson, in successfully representing the defendants in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a trial court’s order granting the plaintiffs a new trial… + read more

Brett Kutnick led a team of Hankinson lawyers, including Deborah Hankinson, Joseph Morris, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Stephanie Nelson, in successfully representing the defendants in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a trial court’s order granting the plaintiffs a new trial after a multi-week jury trial concerning the alleged breach of an attorney-client contingency fee agreement. Following briefing, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Texas in San Antonio conditionally granted the mandamus petition and ordered the trial court to vacate its order granting a new trial and issue a new order specifying its reasons for granting a new trial. In re Davenport, No. 04-14-00666-CV, 2015 WL 1089679 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Mar. 11, 2015, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.).

 

Hankinson LLP Prevails Again in Texas Supreme Court

Deborah Hankinson, Rick Thompson, and Jennifer Stagen successfully convinced the Texas Supreme Court to affirm the court of appeals’s take-nothing judgment in favor of their client, Georgia-Pacific Corporation.  In this significant asbestos case watched by many legal commentators across the country, the Supreme Court defined… + read more

Deborah Hankinson, Rick Thompson, and Jennifer Stagen successfully convinced the Texas Supreme Court to affirm the court of appeals’s take-nothing judgment in favor of their client, Georgia-Pacific Corporation.  In this significant asbestos case watched by many legal commentators across the country, the Supreme Court defined the substantial-factor causation standard for mesothelioma cases.  The Court ultimately concluded that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove that plaintiff’s alleged exposure to asbestos from Georgia-Pacific joint compound was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s mesothelioma.  Deborah Hankinson argued the case before the Supreme Court.  See Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., No. 10-0775, 2014 WL 3797159 (Tex. July 11, 2014).

 

Death Penalty Sanctions Vacated on Mandamus

Brett Kutnick, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Joseph Morris successfully represented Medtronic, Inc. in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a death penalty sanction for Medtronic’s alleged improper contact with the opposing party’s consulting expert.  Following briefing, the Court of Appeals for… + read more

Brett Kutnick, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Joseph Morris successfully represented Medtronic, Inc. in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a death penalty sanction for Medtronic’s alleged improper contact with the opposing party’s consulting expert.  Following briefing, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth District of Texas in Waco held that (1) petition for writ of mandamus was not barred by laches, (2) Medtronic lacked an adequate remedy by appeal, and mandamus was thus an appropriate vehicle to challenge the trial court’ sanctions order, and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing evidentiary sanctions against Medtronic.  The court thus conditionally granted the petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its order granting sanctions for the alleged improper contact with the consulting expert.  In re Medtronic, Inc., No. 10-14-00077-CV, 2014 WL 2159555 (Tex. App.—Waco May 22, 2014, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.).

 

 

$8.2 Million Judgment for Breach of Contract Reversed on Appeal

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Eagle Oil & Gas Company (“Eagle Oil”) in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, TRO-X, L.P., over $8.2 million in damages and attorney’s fees, based on alleged breaches of… + read more

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Eagle Oil & Gas Company (“Eagle Oil”) in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, TRO-X, L.P., over $8.2 million in damages and attorney’s fees, based on alleged breaches of a contract to acquire and dispose of oil and gas leases and interests.  Following oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District of Texas in Eastland held that (1) Eagle Oil could not, as a matter of law, deprive TRO-X of its right to retain an unpromoted working interest by selling to Eagle Oil & Gas Partners, LLC on a promoted basis without consultation with TRO-X, (2) the evidence conclusively establishes that Eagle Oil did not deprive TRO-X of its right to retain an unpromoted working interest, (3) Eagle Oil did not breach the agreement by sending a letter to TRO-X, and (4) Eagle Oil could not, as a matter of law, deprive TRO-X from acquiring its proportionate share of an overriding royalty interest and working interest back-in, and the evidence conclusively establishes that Eagle Oil did not deprive TRO-X of the interests.  The court thus reversed and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing on its multi-million dollar breach-of-contract claims against Eagle and instead rendered judgment that the plaintiff recover $379,788.80 under a court-ordered accounting.  The court further affirmed the take-nothing judgment rendered in favor of the firm’s other client, Eagle Oil & Gas Partners, LLC, on the plaintiff’s tortious interference claim.  Eagle Oil & Gas Co. v. TRO-X, L.P., 416 S.W.3d 137 (Tex. App.—Eastland  2013, pet. filed), reh’g denied, 427 S.W.3d 580 (Tex. App.—Eastland  2014).

 

Judgment Against Owner of Limited Liability Company Reversed on Appeal Because the Evidence Was Legally Insufficient to Pierce the Corporate Veil

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Jesse Marion in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, Donnelley, L.P., over $578,000 in damages and attorney’s fees based on an alleged breach of a mail processing agreement.  After Brett Kutnick… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Jesse Marion in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, Donnelley, L.P., over $578,000 in damages and attorney’s fees based on an alleged breach of a mail processing agreement.  After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas held that the trial court erred in piercing the corporate veil of Mr. Marion’s mail processing company, Metroplex Mailing Services, LLC, and rendering judgment against Mr. Marion individually because there was no evidence to show that Mr. Marion used Metroplex to perpetrate an actual fraud for his direct personal benefit.  The court thus reversed and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing on its claims against Jesse Marion.  Metroplex Mailing Services, LLC v. RR Donnelley & Sons Co., 410 S.W.3d 889, 2013 WL 5202069 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2013, no pet.).

 

Summary Judgment in Favor of Executive Rights Holder Reversed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented plaintiff Betty Lou Bradshaw, the holder of a non‑participating royalty interest, in her appeal of the trial court’s orders granting summary judgment to multiple defendants on her claims for breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, and a constructive… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented plaintiff Betty Lou Bradshaw, the holder of a non‑participating royalty interest, in her appeal of the trial court’s orders granting summary judgment to multiple defendants on her claims for breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, and a constructive trust. After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas in Fort Worth held that the executive rights holder owed a fiduciary duty to Ms. Bradshaw and that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the executive rights holder breached its fiduciary duty to Ms. Bradshaw.  The court therefore reversed the trial court’s orders granting summary judgment to the defendants and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.  Bradshaw v. Steadfast Financial, L.L.C., 39 S.W.3d 348 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2013, pet. filed).

 

Vacatur of Arbitration Award for Evident Partiality Upheld on Appeal

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Stagen represented Occidental Petroleum Corporation and several of its subsidiaries in moving to vacate an arbitration award regarding the interpretation of a purchase and sales agreement.  After extensive briefing and argument, the trial court vacated the arbitration award for… + read more

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Stagen represented Occidental Petroleum Corporation and several of its subsidiaries in moving to vacate an arbitration award regarding the interpretation of a purchase and sales agreement.  After extensive briefing and argument, the trial court vacated the arbitration award for evident partiality by one of the neutral arbitrators.  The First District Court of Appeals in Houston subsequently affirmed the vacatur of the arbitration award, and after requesting full briefs on the merits, the Texas Supreme Court denied the petitioners’ petition for review and motion for rehearing.  Amoco D.T. Co. v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., 343 S.W.3d 837 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, pet. denied).

 

$3 Million Breach of Fiduciary Duty Judgment Reversed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen were principal members of the legal team that successfully represented Douglas Strebel in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, a member of a Delaware limited liability company and a limited partner in a Texas limited… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen were principal members of the legal team that successfully represented Douglas Strebel in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, a member of a Delaware limited liability company and a limited partner in a Texas limited partnership, nearly $3.5 million in lost distributions, attorney’s fees, and interest based on alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by Strebel.  Following oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas in Houston held that the parties contractually disclaimed the fiduciary duties related to profit distributions to the plaintiff.  The court thus reversed the judgment on the plaintiff’s breach of fidcuary duty claims and remanded the case to the trial court for consideration of the jury’s alternative liability and damages finding on the plaintiff’s minority oppression claim.  Strebel v. Wimberly, 371 S.W.3d 267 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, pet. denied).

 

Breach of Contract Judgment Reversed and Vacated on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen were two of the lawyers who represented defendants Hampden Corporation and Fantasy Diamond Corporation in an appeal of a judgment after a bench trial awarding the plaintiff over $750,000 in damages for breach of a commission agreement. Following oral… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen were two of the lawyers who represented defendants Hampden Corporation and Fantasy Diamond Corporation in an appeal of a judgment after a bench trial awarding the plaintiff over $750,000 in damages for breach of a commission agreement. Following oral argument, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion by concluding that the parties tried the breach of contract action by consent and by granting the plaintiff leave to file an amended petition after the trial to assert that cause of action. The court thus vacated the judgment in its entirety and remanded the case to the trial court to allow it to consider the evidence at trial in light of the claims pleaded in the plaintiff’s earlier-filed petition. Hampden Corp. v. Remark, Inc., 331 S.W.3d 489 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2010, pet. denied).

 

Take-Nothing Summary Judgment Affirmed on Claims Arising from Operation of Traffic Signal Enforcement System

Jennifer Rangel Stagen was on the legal team that represented ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc., a corporation that provides traffic signal enforcement systems to municipalities, in the appeal of a take-nothing summary judgment in its favor. The plaintiff had been cited for a red-light… + read more

Jennifer Rangel Stagen was on the legal team that represented ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc., a corporation that provides traffic signal enforcement systems to municipalities, in the appeal of a take-nothing summary judgment in its favor. The plaintiff had been cited for a red-light violation, and brought claims against ACS for purported violations of the Texas Debt Collection Act and negligence per se based on alleged violations of the Texas Occupations Code and the Texas Transportation Code. The Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment in favor of ACS on all grounds. Amanda Ward v. ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc., d/b/a LDC Collection Systems, 328 S.W.3d 648 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2010, no pet.).

Page 1 of 11