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Texas Supreme Court Denies Appointment of Counsel to Indigent Prison Inmate in Civil Case

An indigent prison inmate sought court-appointed counsel in his medical malpractice lawsuit against a prison doctor who ordered the inmate to return to heavy work detail.  The Texas Supreme Court concluded that prisoner litigation against an employee of the prison did not present the type… + read more

An indigent prison inmate sought court-appointed counsel in his medical malpractice lawsuit against a prison doctor who ordered the inmate to return to heavy work detail.  The Texas Supreme Court concluded that prisoner litigation against an employee of the prison did not present the type of exceptional circumstances warranting the appointment of counsel in a civil case.  Rick Thompson authored the briefs filed in the Texas Supreme Court on behalf of the State.  See Gibson v. Tolbert, 102 S.W.3d 710 (Tex. 2003).

 

 

Texas Supreme Court Upholds State’s Immunity for Discretionary Highway Design Decisions

The widow and children of a driver killed in a highway accident sued the State for premises defect under the Texas Tort Claims Act.  According to plaintiffs, the State should have warned the driver of the dangerous condition of the highway median or should have… + read more

The widow and children of a driver killed in a highway accident sued the State for premises defect under the Texas Tort Claims Act.  According to plaintiffs, the State should have warned the driver of the dangerous condition of the highway median or should have installed safety features in the median to prevent the head-on collision.  The Texas Supreme Court concluded that the State retained its sovereign immunity from claims arising from such discretionary roadway design decisions.  Rick Thompson authored the winning briefs filed in the Texas Supreme Court on behalf of the State.  See Tex. Dep’t of Transp. v. Ramirez, 74 S.W.3d 864 (Tex. 2002).

 

Texas Supreme Court Rejects Waiver-by-Conduct Exception to Sovereign-Immunity Doctrine

Governmental entities, like the TNRCC, have sovereign immunity from suits for alleged breaches of contracts. Nevertheless, IT-Davy, a general contractor, sued the TNRCC for breach of contract, alleging an equitable, waiver-by-conduct exception to the sovereign-immunity doctrine. According to IT-Davy, the TNRCC waived its immunity from… + read more

Governmental entities, like the TNRCC, have sovereign immunity from suits for alleged breaches of contracts. Nevertheless, IT-Davy, a general contractor, sued the TNRCC for breach of contract, alleging an equitable, waiver-by-conduct exception to the sovereign-immunity doctrine. According to IT-Davy, the TNRCC waived its immunity from suit by accepting full performance of the contract without fully paying for the accepted services. The trial court and the court of appeals adopted this waiver-by-conduct exception. In the Texas Supreme Court, Rick Thompson argued that the TNRCC was protected by its sovereign immunity from suit and that any waiver-by-conduct exception to sovereign immunity should be adopted by the Texas Legislature, not Texas courts. The Texas Supreme Court agreed, reversed the court of appeals judgment, and dismissed IT-DAVY’s breach of contract claim because it was precluded by TNRCC’s immunity from suit. Tex. Natural Res. Conservation Comm’n v. IT-Davy, 74 S.W.3d 849 (Tex. 2002).

 

Brett Kutnick Co-Publishes a Paper on Texas Contort Law that is Presented at the Dallas Bar Association Business Section Meeting

This article analyzes the struggle faced by courts and commentators to clarify the boundary between contract claims and tort claims.  Although the line between a cause of action for contract and one sounding in tort is often blurred, an examination of Texas case law reveals… + read more

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This article analyzes the struggle faced by courts and commentators to clarify the boundary between contract claims and tort claims.  Although the line between a cause of action for contract and one sounding in tort is often blurred, an examination of Texas case law reveals some guiding principles when making the determination of whether a cause of action that includes breach of contract will also support tort and punitive damages.

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