Dallas Court of Appeals cases for the week of July 25, 2011

Dallas Court of Appeals cases for the week of July 25, 2011

Dallas Court of Appeals cases for the week of July 25, 2011

For the week of July 25, 2011, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued thirty-four opinions in civil cases.  Nineteen of these dispose of a case without a detailed discussion of the merits (e.g., dismissing a case for want of prosecution, dismissing a case for mootness, dismissing a case pursuant to settlement).  The remaining fifteen cases are as follows:

Blackard v. Fairview Farms Land Co., Ltd. (05-10-00123-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that there is no presumption that an order granting summary judgment is a final order; (2) rule that an order granting summary judgment is not a final order unless it actually disposes of every pending claim and party or unless it clearly and unequivocally states that it finally disposes of all claims and parties; (3) rule that pleadings are sufficient if they give the opposing party fair notice of the claim involved; (4) rule that a judgment is final when the judgment disposes of some but not all of the defendants, the only remaining defendants have not been served or filed answers, and nothing in the record indicates that the plaintiff ever expected to obtain service on the unserved defendants; (5) standard for reviewing no-evidence summary judgment; and (6) standard for reviewing traditional summary judgment.

Fulgham v. Fischer (05-10-00097-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that, in an appeal from a bench trial, the trial court’s findings of fact have the same weight as a jury verdict; (2) standard for reviewing factual sufficiency of evidence; (3) rule that, in a bench trial, the trial court is the sole judge of the credibility of witnesses; (4) standard for reviewing legal sufficiency of evidence; (5) standard for reviewing conclusions of law; (6) rule that incorrect conclusions of law will not require reversal if the controlling findings of fact will support a correct legal theory; (7) rule that failure to cite legal authority or provide substantive analysis in an appellate brief results in waiver of a complaint; (8) rule that quantum meruit does not arise out of a contract but rather is independent of a contract; and (9) elements of quantum meruit cause of action.

Gaffar v. Kamal (05-10-00560-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that, in a bench trial where no findings of fact or conclusions of law are filed, all findings necessary to support the trial court’s judgment are implied; (2) rule that, when a complete reporter’s record is filed, implied findings may be reviewed for legal and factual sufficiency by the same standards applied to a jury’s answer; (3) rule that, when a party attacks the legal sufficiency of an adverse finding on an issue for which he had the burden of proof, the party must demonstrate on appeal that the evidence conclusively established as a matter of law all vital facts to support the issue; and (4) rule that a statute of limitations does not begin to run until the cause of action accrues.

In re M.C.B. (05-10-00158-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing traditional summary judgment; (2) holding that strict compliance with rules relating to issuance, service, and return of citation must be shown on the fact of the record or the attempted service of process will be rendered invalid; and (3) rule that a default judgment is improper against a defendant who has not been served in strict compliance with the law, even if he has actual knowledge of the lawsuit.

In re Oncor Elec. Delivery Co. LLC (05-11-00825-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that, in order to obtain mandamus relief, relators must show both that the trial court has abused its discretion and that they have no adequate appellate remedy; and (2) holding that an improper denial of leave to designate a responsible third party is not an adequate appellate remedy.

In re Tarrant County (05-11-00379-CV) – Recites well-established rule that, while a county can insist on being sued in that county, the county may waive that right.

Jackson v. Citibank (South Dakota), N.A. (05-10-00224-CV) – Recites well-established rule that a citations to an appendix of an appellate brief are not a substitute for citation to the appellate record.

Main v. Royall (05-09-01503-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing trial court’s evidentiary rulings; (2) rule that improperly admitted evidence constitutes reversible error only if the error probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment; (3) standard for reviewing no-evidence summary judgment; (4) elements of defamation cause of action; and (5) rule that, for a statement to be actionable as defamation, it must refer to an ascertainable person.  Additionally, holds that authors and publishers of books shall be treated as members of the media for the purpose of statute authorizing interlocutory appeal of trial court order denying a motion for summary judgment based on First Amendment grounds.

Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. v. Atmel Corp. (05-09-01155-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing traditional summary judgment; and (2) rule that the construction of an unambiguous contract is a question of law.

Mukoro v. Myers (05-10-00856-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing traditional summary judgment; (2) rule that an employer is not liable for an employee’s intentional and malicious acts that are unforeseeable given the employee’s duties; and (3) rule that, in an attorney-client relationship, a fiduciary duty arises as a matter of law.

RM Crowe Prop. Servs. Co., L.P. v. Strategic Energy, L.L.C. (05-10-00234-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that a party challenging the legal sufficiency of an adverse finding on an issue for which he had the burden of proof, the party must demonstrate on appeal that the evidence conclusively established as a matter of law all vital facts to support the issue; (2) definition of “novation”; (3) elements of a novation affirmative defense; (4) a party asserting an affirmative defense in a trial before the court must request findings of fact in support of the defense to avoid waiving it; (5) factors  to guide a trial court in determining whether attorneys’ fees are reasonable and necessary; (6) standard for reviewing the amount of attorneys’ fees awarded by a trial court sitting as trier of fact; (7) rule that billing records need not be introduced to recover attorneys’ fees; and (8) rule that, to meet a party’s burden to segregate its attorneys’ fees, it is sufficient to submit to the fact-finder testimony from the party’s attorney concerning the percentage of hours that related solely to a claim for which fees are not recoverable.

Schultz v. Lester (05-09-01549-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing evidentiary rulings; (2) test governing whether expert testimony is admissible; (3) rule that, when the reliability of an expert’s opinion is challenged, the trial court must ensure that the expert opinion comports with applicable professional standards; (4) rule that a general objection to evidence as a whole, which does not point out specifically the portion objected to, is properly overruled if any part of the evidence is admissible; (5) rule that a trial court’s ruling on a motion in limine preserves nothing for appellate review, as a party must object at trial to preserve error on appeal; (6) for reversal based on an evidentiary ruling, the appellant must show that the evidentiary ruling was in error and that the error probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment; (7) presumption that a jury followed the trial court’s instructions; (8) definition of “adjudicative facts”; and (9) standard for reviewing a trial court’s submission of jury instructions and jury question.

Siddiq v. Hawkins (05-09-00581-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing legal sufficiency of evidence; (2) standard for reviewing factual sufficiency of evidence; (3) standard for reviewing trial court’s conclusions of law; (4) definition of “equitable title”; (5) definition of “legal interest”; (6) definition of “legal title”; (7) rule that an equitable title is superior to a legal title; (8) rule that a purchaser under a contract for conveyance of property does not acquire equitable title to the property until he pays the purchase price and fully performs the obligations under the contract; (9) definition of “resulting trust”; (10) rule that, when properly recorded and indexed, an abstract of judgment creates a judgment lien that is superior to the rights of subsequent purchasers and lienholders; and (11) rule that a party has constructive notice of instruments properly recorded in the proper county.

Thornton v. Dobbs (05-10-0041-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that, in an appeal from a bench trial, the trial court’s findings of fact have the same weight as a jury verdict; (2) standard for reviewing factual sufficiency of evidence; (3) rule that, in a bench trial, the trial court is the sole judge of credibility of witnesses; (4) rule that, when an appellant challenges the legal sufficiency of an adverse finding on which he did not have the burden of proof at trial, he must demonstrate that there is no evidence to support the adverse ruling; (5) standard for reviewing trial court’s conclusions of law; (6) rule that incorrect conclusions of law will not require reversal if the controlling findings of fact will support a correct a correct legal theory; (7) elements of breach of contract cause of action; and (8) elements required for the formation of a valid and binding contract.

Watson v. Homeowners Ass’n of Heritage Ranch, Inc. (05-10-00364-CV) – Recites well-established standard for reviewing traditional summary judgment.

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