Client Alert: Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Texas Law Regarding Suits Against Architects and Engineers

On February 24, 2017, in a case litigated by Thompson & Knight, the Supreme Court of Texas clarified the meaning of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 150, which requires that suits against architects, engineers, surveyors, and landscape architects be supported by an affidavit, commonly known as a “certificate of merit,” from a similarly licensed third-party expert.  The purpose of a certificate of merit is to provide a basis for the trial court to determine—at the outset of the case—whether a party’s claims are frivolous.  The Court held that a plaintiff suing an architect or engineer must demonstrate not only that the third-party expert who signs the required certificate of merit holds the same license as the defendant, but also that the expert is knowledgeable in the defendant’s practice area.  Prior to this ruling by the Court, lower courts had issued conflicting opinions about whether Chapter 150’s requirement regarding knowledge of the defendant’s practice area could simply be inferred based on the third-party expert holding the same license.