Texas Supreme Court Argument Preview (12/10/14)

The Supreme Court of Texas will hear argument in three cases on Wednesday, December 10, 2014:No. 12-0987, Gharda USA Inc. v. Control Solutions, Inc. – This case arose from a fire at a warehouse and office building. The primary issue is whether the expert testimony presented at trial is legally sufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict that the fire was caused by the defendants’ chemicals stored in the building. The trial court granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and the court of appeals reversed in a 2-1 decision. No. 13-0584, Southwestern Bell Telephone L.P. d/b/a AT&T Texas v. Emmett – This case presents the construction of Texas Water Code § 49.223, which requires a flood control district to pay for relocation of utilities required by, among other things, alteration by the district of any bridge. AT&T Texas contends that the Harris County Flood Control District made necessary the relocation of AT&T Texas’s equipment from a bridge because the bridge was being demolished. Harris County and the City of Houston contend that the statute does not apply because it is the City, not the flood control district, that made the relocation necessary. No. 13-0593, Texas Student Housing Authority v. Brazos County Appraisal District – In this property tax dispute, Texas Student Housing Authority contends that its property is exempt from taxation under Texas Tax Code § 11.11 and Texas Education Code § 53.46. The taxing authority contends that the exemption was forfeited for certain years because the property was made available to Texas A&M University for housing of participants in university-sponsored summer programs. The trial court agreed with the taxing authorities. The court of appeals reversed as to one year and affirmed as to others. Both parties filed petitions for review. The arguments will be streamed live (and be available for viewing later) here.- Rich Phillips, Thompson & Knight