Texas Supreme Court Arguments (3/9/16)

Posted by Rich PhillipsOn Wednesday, March 9, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court heard argument in the following three cases:14-1022, Texas State Board of Pharmacy v. Witcher — The primary issue in this administrative law appeal is whether the Texas State Board of Pharmacy’s reasoning in suspending Ms. Witcher’s license was merely the application of existing Board policy to a particular set of facts, and was therefore permissible, or whether it rose to the level of ad hoc rulemaking, and therefore violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The suspension was based on an unwritten board policy that a pharmacist with an active suspension in another state cannot practice pharmacy in Texas.No. 15-0117, In re Lazy W Dist. No. 1 – This mandamus petition arises from the intersection of condemnation law and governmental immunity. Both the condemnor and the condemnee are governmental entities. The condemnee filed a plea to the jurisdiction, and the trial court held that it would not appoint special commissioners to determine the damages caused by the taking until after it disposed of the plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals issued a writ of mandamus ordering the trial court to appoint special commissioners and wait for their award before considering the plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals relied on cases holding that a condemnation proceeding is administrative until the special commissioners have issued their award and one party objects to the award. The court of appeals reasoned that the trial court has no discretion to do anything but appoint special commissioners until after the commissioners issue their award and a party objects to that award. The relator contends that governmental immunity deprives the trial court of the power to appoint special commissioners.No. 15-0631, In re J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc. – This mandamus petition arises from an accident in Waller County, Texas. Relator JB Hunt filed suit in Waller County but did not immediately serve the defendants. Relator claims that it agreed to delay service until the defendants were out of the hospital. A few days later, the defendants filed suit in Dallas County and served citations. The Dallas County court denied JB Hunt’s plea in abatement and the court of appeals denied mandamus relief.Video of the oral arguments is available here.