Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas
Memorial Hermann Health System v. Gomez
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's judgment for Plaintiff, a cardiovascular surgeon who sued Defendant, a hospital and Plaintiff's former employer, for engaging in a retaliatory "whisper campaign" against him, holding that the lower courts erred.After leaving the employment of Defendant for a new rival, Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging that Defendant used faulty data on his patients' mortality rates to suppress competition and injure his reputation and practice. The jury rejected Plaintiff's anticompetition claims but concluded that the hospital had defamed him and disparaged his professional association. The trial court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff, and the court of appeals affirmed. At issue on appeal was how a reasonable juror would interpret the charge that was given for the defamation and business disparagement claims. The Supreme Court held (1) the plain text of the charge must be given its commonsense meaning in the context of the case; and (2) the trial court erred in awarding Plaintiff damages for defamation and business disparagement. View "Memorial Hermann Health System v. Gomez" on Justia Law
AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. v. IPic-Gold Class Entertainment, LLC
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court granting summary judgment for Petitioners and dismissing Respondents' allegations that Petitioners conspired to restrain trade in the movie-theater market in violation of section 15.05(a) of the Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act, holding that Respondents set forth sufficient evidence to survive a motion for summary judgment.In Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986), the United States Supreme Court held that, in order to survive a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff seeking damages for a violation of section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, must present evidence that "tends to exclude the possibility" that the alleged conspirators acted independently. The parties agreed that this requirement governed in cases brought under the Texas Antitrust Act but disagreed on its application in this case. The court of appeals held that Respondents satisfied this requirement. The Supreme Court reversed after construing the Texas Antitrust Act in harmony with federal law, holding that Respondents' evidence was not enough to survive summary judgment under the Texas Act. View "AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. v. IPic-Gold Class Entertainment, LLC" on Justia Law
Monteglongo v. Abrea
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Defendants' motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), Tex. Civ. Proc. & Rem. Code 27.001-.011, as untimely, holding that because Plaintiff's amended petition in this case asserted new legal claims, Defendants' motion to dismiss those claims was timely.In his original petition, Plaintiff asserted claims for deceptive trade practice, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended petition reasserting the same claims, adding new claims for fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, fraudulent concealment, and breach of contract, and alleging the same essential facts alleged in the original petition and requesting the same relief. The trial court denied Defendants' TCPA dismissal motion, concluding that the motion was untimely. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in holding that Defendant's motion to dismiss the new claims was untimely because the amended petition asserted new legal actions and thus triggered new sixty-day period for Defendants to file a motion to dismiss those new claims. View "Monteglongo v. Abrea" on Justia Law
HouseCanary, Inc. v. Title Source, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting a motion to reconsider the court's denial of a motion to seal brought under Tex. R. Civ. P. 76a, holding that the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA), Tex. Civ. Proc. & Rem. Code 134A.006a, does not provide an independent, self-contained pathway for sealing court records.Plaintiff sued Defendant for breach of contract, and Defendant asserted counterclaims, including misappropriation of trade secrets. The jury found in favor of Defendant. Defendant subsequently filed a Rule 76a motion to seal thirty trial exhibits. The trial court denied the motion to seal but then granted Defendant's motion to reconsider that relied exclusively on section 134A.006a of TUTSA. The Supreme Court remanded this case to the trial court to exercise its discretion under the applicable provisions of both TUTSA and Rule 76a, holding that the trial court erred by failing to apply the non-displaced provisions of Rule 76a in ruling on the motion to reconsider. View "HouseCanary, Inc. v. Title Source, Inc." on Justia Law
Pike v. Texas EMC Management, LLC
This case case arising out of the breakup of a limited partnership created to produce and market a new cement product the Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals largely affirming the judgment of the trial court in favor of the limited partnership and a technology-supplying partner, holding that Plaintiffs failed to present legally sufficient evidence of damages and that the technology-supplying partner was not entitled to a permanent injunction for misappropriation of trade secrets.The partnership, its general partner, and the limited partner that supplied the cement-making technology sued the limited partners responsible for funding, the general manager of the partnership, and the companies that foreclosed on and purchased the partnership's assets. Defendants asserted counterclaims. The court of appeals largely affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the damage awards were not supported by legally sufficient evidence; (2) the technology-supplying partner was not entitled to a permanent injunction for misappropriation of trade secrets; and (3) the company that purchased the partnership's assets and promissory note did not prove it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its counterclaim for the partnership's failure to pay a deficiency balance on the note. View "Pike v. Texas EMC Management, LLC" on Justia Law
Kyle v. Strasburger
This case arose from an allegedly forged home-equity loan. Plaintiff sued the lenders, bringing several claims, including statutory fraud and violations of the Texas Finance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The trial court granted summary judgment for the lenders without stating its reasons. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the court of appeals (1) properly affirmed summary judgment on Plaintiff’s constitutional forfeiture claim; and (2) erred in holding that Plaintiff’s remaining claims were barred on statute of limitations and waiver grounds. View "Kyle v. Strasburger" on Justia Law
Sloan v. Law Office of Oscar C. Gonzalez, Inc.
Plaintiff sued Defendants, attorneys Eric Turton and Oscar Gonzalez and the Law Office of Oscar C. Gonzalez, alleging that they misappropriated $75,000 in trust funds that Turton received after settling a case on Plaintiff’s behalf. The jury found that all three defendants were engaged in a joint enterprise and a joint venture with respect to Plaintiff’s case and committed various torts in relation to Plaintiff. In response to a proportionate-responsibility question, the jury assigned forty percent to Turton, thirty percent to Gonzalez, and thirty percent to the Law Office. The trial court entered judgment holding all three defendants jointly and severally liable for actual damages, pre-judgment interest, additional Texas Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act damages, and attorney’s fees. Gonzalez and the Law Office appealed. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff could only recover for professional negligence, which amounted to $77,500 in actual damages. The court’s opinion did not address the jury’s proportionate-responsibility findings but nonetheless applied those findings in its judgment, ordering Gonzalez and the Law Firm to each pay Sloan $23,250. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred by failing to address the sufficiency of the evidence of a joint enterprise or joint venture or the legal implications of those findings. Remanded. View "Sloan v. Law Office of Oscar C. Gonzalez, Inc." on Justia Law