Texas Supreme Court Orders (1/19/16)

Posted by Rich PhillipsIn a rare Tuesday order list issued on January 19, 2016, the Supreme Court of Texas granted one petition for review and set two mandamus petitions for argument. The timing of the order list seems to be driven by two things. First, the Court met in conference on Tuesday. Second, the cases have been set for argument on February 10, which is about three weeks away. It is likely that the Court voted to set these cases for argument during conference on Tuesday and immediately gave notice because of the impending February argument date. The three cases are:No. 14-0767, Linegar v. DLA Piper LLP (US) – This appeal arises from a legal malpractice claim asserting that the law firm failed to perfect a security interest related to a loan that the petitioner made from his retirement account. The primary question is whether the petitioner has standing to sue for legal malpractice. The court of appeals held that he lacked standing to assert the claim because the holder of the note was the trustee for his retirement account. The court of appeals reasoned that the trustee was the only injured party.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. 15-0328, In re Nationwide Ins. Co. of Am. – This mandamus petition arises from the relator’s effort to enforce a mandatory forum-selection clause in an agency contract. The trial court found that the relator waived enforcement of the forum-selection clause. Relator contends that it did not substantially invoke the judicial process and that it eliminated any prejudice caused by delay in seeking to enforce the clause by waiving a contractual limitations period that would have otherwise barred the plaintiff’s claim.