For the week of March 28, 2011, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued twenty-one opinions in civil cases. Eleven 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 ten cases are as follows:
Biggs v. Baylor Univ. Med. Ctr. (05-09-00430-CV) – Recites well-established rule that, in medical negligence cases, a trial court’s discretion to deny extensions of time to file expert reports is not limitless.
Billelo v. CLC McKinney Partners, L.P. (05-09-01525-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing no-evidence summary judgment; and (2) rule that an owner of livestock has no common law duty to confine his animals within fences, but that there is a statutory duty.
Carr v. Main Carr Dev., LLC (05-10-01346-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing interlocutory order denying motion to compel arbitration; (2) standard for reviewing whether an arbitration agreement is enforceable; (3) rule that a third-party beneficiary to a contract can compel or be compelled to arbitrate under an arbitration provision in a contract; (3) rule that a third party may only enforce a contract as a third-party beneficiary when the contracting parties themselves intended to secure some benefit for the third party and entered into the contract directly for the third party’s benefit; (4) rule that a court cannot create a third-party beneficiary contract by implication; (5) rule that the presumption in favor arbitration applies to the scope of an arbitration agreement, but does not apply to the existence of such an agreement or to the identity of parties who may be bound to such an agreement; and (6) definition of “direct benefits estoppel.
Furmanite Worldwide, Inc. v. Nextcorp, Ltd. (05-09-00580-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing traditional summary judgment; (2) standard for reviewing no-evidence summary judgment; (3) standard for reviewing an unambiguous contract; (4) rule that, when a contract contains an ambiguity, the granting of a motion for summary judgment is improper; (5) definition of “waiver”; (6) elements of waiver; (7) elements of equitable estoppel; (8) rule that summary judgment may not be granted on grounds not presented in the motion; (9) definition of “recital”; and (10) rule that recitals in a contract will not control the operative phrases of the contract unless those phrases are ambiguous.
Hernandez v. Sovereign Cherokee Nation Tejas (05-09-00535-CV) – Recites well-established (1) standard for reviewing trial court’s imposition of sanctions; (2) standard for legal sufficiency review; (3) standard for factual sufficiency review; (4) standard for reviewing exemplary damage award; and (5) factors considered in determining whether an exemplary damage award is excessive.
In re D.C. (05-10-01539-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that appellate jurisdiction is never presumed; and (2) rule that, absent a timely-filed notice of appeal, an appellate court does not have jurisdiction over an appeal.
In re Johnson (05-11-00290-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that a contempt order is void if it is beyond the power of the court to render it or if it deprives liberty without due process of law; and (2) rule that, for a person to be held in contempt for violating a court decree, the decree must spell out the details of compliance in clear, specific, and unambiguous terms so that the person will know exactly what duties and obligations are imposed upon him.
Mazon Assocs., Inc. v. Heritage Wholesale Nursery, Inc. (05-09-01218-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule as to what must be done to preserve a legal sufficiency and factual sufficiency challenges for appeal after a jury trial; (2) standard for reviewing trial court’s exclusion of expert testimony; (3) rule that appellate court must uphold trial court’s evidentiary ruling if any legitimate basis exists for the ruling; (4) elements which must be satisfied for expert testimony to be admitted; (5) rule that legal definitions are questions of law solely within the province of the trial court; and (6) rule that an appellate court may not reverse a judgment on the basis of evidentiary error unless the appellate court concludes that the error probably caused rendition of improper judgment.
Ritchie v. Rupe (05-08-00615-CV) – Recites well-established (1) rule that jury questions should not be submitted where the facts in question are conclusively established; (2) rule that, when party of a case is decided by the jury and part by the court, a party may request and the court may issue findings of fact and conclusions of law on the court-decided issues; (3) rule that construction of statutes is a question of law; (4) standard for reviewing questions of law; (5) rule that a trust is not a separate legal entity that may sue or be sued; (6) rule that lawsuits by or against trusts must be brought by or against the legal representative, the trustee of the trust; and (7) definition of “a trust.” Additionally, holds that Texas law authorizes a trial court to order a buyout of an oppressed minority shareholder as an equitable remedy for shareholder oppression.
Smale v. Torchmark Corp. (05-09-01190-CV) – Recites well-established rule that, when a trial court does not specify the basis for its ruling, it is appellant’s burden on appeal to show each independent ground or basis asserted in support of the judgment is insufficient to support the judgment.