Texas Supreme Court weekly orders (11/21/14)

In its weekly orders (11/21/14), the Texas Supreme Court issued five new opinions and granted review in three cases. Click here to read the order list and find the opinions.The five new opinions (all of which are per curiam) are in the following cases:No. 12-0485, In re Corral-Lerma — Following its recent opinion in In re Nalle Plastics Family LP, the Court held that the defendant’s supersedeas bond did not have to include an amount for the attorney’s fees award. In a new ruling, the Court held that interest on the attorney’s fees award also did not need to be included.No. 13-0094, Texas Comm’n on Envtl. Quality v. Resendez — This is a retaliatory-discharge case filed by an alleged whistleblower. The plaintiff had reported the alleged wrongdoing to supervisors and a state senator. The Court held that this did not meet the whistleblower-statute’s requirement to report the wrongdoing directly to an authority with outward-looking law-enforcement powers.No. 13-0815, Damuth v. Trinity Valley Cmty. Coll. — The plaintiff brought a breach-of-contract claim after being fired as a coach/faculty member at the college. Disagreeing with the court of appeals, the Court held that sovereign immunity was waived by the Local Government Contract Claims Act. The Court reasoned that an employee’s service contract is within the waiver of immunity.No. 13-0816, El Paso Mktg., L.P. v. Wolf Hollow I, L.P. —  A power-plant owner claimed its cost to buy replacement power after its plant was damaged by poor quality natural gas. In an earlier appeal, the Court held that a contract exclusion for consequential damages did not bar this claim. On remand, the court of appeals ordered a new trial, thinking that the Supreme Court’s ruling dictated this result. In a second trip to the Supreme Court, the Court held that the remand for trial was in error. Rather, the court of appeals should address the merits of other arguments made in the appeal.No. 13-1006, In re Essex Ins. Co. —  Claiming that he was an independent contractor, an injured worked sued the manufacturing plant where he sustained an injury. He joined the plant’s liability insurer, seeking a declaration that the insurer owed coverage to the plant for his injury. The Court granted mandamus, holding that the joinder violated the rule that an injured party cannot bring a direct action against the defendant’s liability insurer.The three cases in which the Court granted review are:No. 12-1007, Boeing Co. v. Abbott — This case involves a request for information about Boeing’s lease of the former Kelly Air Force Base. Boeing argues that certain financial information is exempted from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act.No. 13-0175, Abutahoun v. Dow Chem. Co. — This is a mesothelioma wrongful-death case. The principal issue is whether the plant owner (Dow) is shielded from liability because it did not control or supervise the work of the pipe-insulating company for which the decedent had worked.No. 13-0966, San Antonio Water Sys. v. Nicholas — This retaliatory-discharge case raises several issues about the plaintiff’s claim that she was wrongfully fired for reporting alleged sexual harassment. A principal issue is whether a reasonable person would have believed that the conduct was illegal harassment. There is also an issue whether the defendant’s immunity defense allows consideration of the argument that the plaintiff’s belief was not objectively reasonable.– Scott Stolley, Thompson & Knight