Judge: Investor Failed To Show Directors Breached Their Fiduciary Duty

HOUSTON - An investor has failed to show that a company's board of directors breached its fiduciary duty by approving executive compensation for the company's CEO even though the company had a "dismal" financial record over the previous year, a federal judge in Texas ruled Feb. 26 in dismissing the investor's complaint with leave to amend (E. Howard King Jr. v. John F. Terwilliger, et al., No. 12-2182, S.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2583).

Texas Federal Judge Dismisses Birth Control Suit, Says Claims Unripe For Review

DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Feb. 26 dismissed a challenge to the birth control mandate contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) brought by a Catholic institution, saying the claims were not ripe for review (The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas v. Kathleen Sebelius, No. 12-1589, N.D. Texas).

Travelocity Wins Summary Judgment On Patent Claims In Texas Case

DALLAS - A "Map View" tab on the Travelocity.com website does not infringe a graphic generating patent, a Texas federal judge concluded Feb. 22 (ICON Internet Competence Network B.V. v. Travelocity.com LP, No. 11-1131, N.D. Texas.).

Texas Appeals Court: Defendants Properly Dismissed From Medical Malpractice Case

EL PASO, Texas - The Eighth District Texas Court of Appeals on Feb. 20 affirmed summary judgment for two defendants named in a medical malpractice action, agreeing that the medical professionals did not have a relationship with a man who died after being discharged from a hospital (Helen Estrada v. Encarnacion Mijares, et al., No. 08-10-00290-CV, Texas App., 8th Dist.; 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 1652).

High Court Will Not Review ERISA Preemption Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 25 denied a health insurance company's petition seeking review of a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not preempt a third-party medical device provider's state law claims for negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel and violations of the Texas Insurance Code (United Healthcare Insurance Co. v. Access Mediquip, No. 12-806, U.S. Sup.).

Judge Denies Remand In Breach Of Contract Action Against Insurance Adjuster

DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Feb. 19 refused to remand homeowners' breach of contract lawsuit, finding that an in-state insurance adjuster for a State Farm insurance company was improperly joined to the lawsuit (Ronald DeCluette and Annie DeCluette v. State Farm Lloyds and Ruben Gallegos, No. 12-4449, N.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21942).

In Reversal, Supreme Court Says State Courts Can Hear Patent Malpractice Claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court of Texas erred in finding that an inventor and patent owner's claim of legal malpractice against his former counsel was subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction, the U.S. Supreme Court held Feb. 20 (Jerry W. Gunn, et al. v. Vernon F. Minton, No. 11-1118, U.S. Sup.).

Court Allows 'Each And Every' Testimony In Welding Rod Asbestos Case

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent rejected "each and every" exposure testimony only as in and of itself establishing exposure and did not go so far as requiring its exclusion where other evidence also exists, a state appeals court held in allowing expert testimony on Feb. 14 (Michelle Wolfinger, administratrix of the estate of Robert Wolfinger v. 20th Century Glove Corp. of Texas, et al., No. 1393 EDA 2011, Pa. Super.).

Texas Appeals Panel Upsets Statute Of Repose Judgment For Former Refinery Owner

HOUSTON - A unanimous Texas First District Court of Appeals panel entered an opinion Feb. 14 reversing a statute of repose take-nothing judgment granted to the former owner of a chemical plant in an acetic acid personal injury lawsuit, after concluding the statute of repose does not apply to the defendant as a matter of law (Jason Jenkins v. Occidental Chemical Corp., No. 09-1140, Texas App., 1st Dist.).

Judge Says Fact Issues Remain On 'Occurrence' Issue Under Homeowners Insurance Policy

TYLER, Texas - Fact issues remain regarding whether insureds intentionally and knowingly sold an allegedly defective home, a Texas federal judge held Feb. 12, denying summary judgment to an insurer regarding an "occurrence" issue under a homeowners insurance policy (Encompass Insurance Co. v. W. Michael Hill and Susan Hill, No. 09-460, E.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18439).

5th Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Suit Saying Constitutional Violations Voided Loan

NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 13 affirmed the dismissal of a Texas couple's lawsuit claiming that their home equity loan was void because the documents were signed in the living room of their home in violation of the Texas Constitution, after agreeing that their allegations were subject to a four-year statute of limitations (John Priester, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., et al., No. 12-40032, 5th Cir.).

Texas Top Court Reinstates Petition Challenging 'But For' Causation

DALLAS - The Texas Supreme Court on Feb. 15 reversed itself and reinstated an asbestos widow's petition for review asking the court to reject the "but for" causation standard in multiple exposure cases, according to the court's docket (Susan Elaine Bostic, et al. v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., No. 10-0775, Texas Sup.).

Bankrupt American Airlines, US Airways To Merge, Form World's Largest Airline

FORT WORTH, Texas - Bankrupt AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines Inc., announced Feb. 14 that the boards of directors for AMR Corp. and U.S. Airways Group Inc. have approved a merger forming the world's largest airline, which will have an equity value of $11 billion. The deal, announced in a press release issued by AMR, must be approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Federal Judge Dismisses Credit Transaction Suit Against Restaurant

HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on Feb. 12 granted summary judgment to a restaurant alleged to have violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) by printing a consumer's expiration date on a credit card receipt, finding that the consumer has not shown that any violation of the statute was willful (Casey Huff v. Shandy's Cafe LLC, No. 11-3549, S.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18500).

Federal Circuit Panel Affirms Verdict, Patent Invalidity Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 13 affirmed a Texas federal magistrate judge's decision to invalidate an online advertising facilitation patent as indefinite, as well as a jury's subsequent verdict that two related patents are invalid and not infringed by Google Inc. (Function Media LLC v. Google Inc., No. 12-1020, Fed. Cir.).

Texas Judge Denies Summary Judgment In Music Copyright Case

HOUSTON - A recording studio copyright defendant failed to obtain a summary judgment of noninfringement on Feb. 11 in Texas federal litigation (Adan Sanchez v. Hacienda Records and Recording Studio Inc., No. 11-3855, S.D. Texas).

Judge Finds Insurer Did Not Show That Appraisal Decision Barred Church's Claims

DALLAS - An insurer failed to establish that an umpire's appraisal decision over a church's claims related to storm damage was binding and estopped contractual and extracontractual claims against the insurer, a Texas federal judge ruled Feb. 11, denying summary judgment to the insurer (Church on the Rock North v. Church Mutual Insurance Co., No. 3:10-cv-00975, N.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17849).

Judge Dismisses Breach Of Contract, Negligence Claims Against Insurance Agent

HOUSTON - An insured failed to assert claims against an insurance agent for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, negligence, breach of the Texas Insurance Code, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing and malice, a Texas federal judge held Feb. 11, dismissing the claims (The Landing Council of Co-Owners v. Federal Insurance Co. and Higganbotham Insurance Agency Houston Inc. d/b/a The Essential Insurance Group LLC, No. 12-2760, S.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17884).

Creditors Want Trustee Named Or Chapter 7 Conversion For Texas Oil And Gas Company

HOUSTON - The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of ATP Oil & Gas Corp. on Feb. 10 filed an emergency motion in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas seeking the appointment of a Chapter 11 trustee or conversion of the proceeding to Chapter 7 liquidation (In Re: ATP Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 12-36187, Chapter 11, S.D. Texas Bkcy.).

Bank Wins Judgment Regarding Loan Acquired From Failed Institution

DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Feb. 8 granted a default judgment to Celtic Bank Corp. in an action it brought to recover on a $1.75 million loan it acquired from the failed First National Bank of Arizona (Bank of Arizona), finding that Celtic was able to show that the defendants, who did not respond to the complaint, defaulted (Celtic Bank Corp. v. Image Plus Dental Design LLC, et al., No. 12-1110, N.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17638).

Court Finds State Law Bars Contractor's Employee's Claims Against Premises Owner

DALLAS - State law bars claims by the family of a contractor's employee alleging asbestos exposure during work on the same improvement on which the premises owner's employees were working, a Texas appeals court held Feb. 8 (The Dow Chemical Co. v. Magdalena Adrienna Abutahoun, et al., No. 05-11-01277-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist.).

Judge Trims Federal Securities Claims In BP Oil Spill Shareholder MDL

HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on Feb. 6 granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss filed by BP PLC and certain of its subsidiaries and former executive officers, ruling that although shareholders have failed to plead scienter against one of the defendants, they have properly pleaded a majority of their claims with regard to the rest of the defendants (In re BP p.l.c. Securities Litigation, No. 10-md-2185, S.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15922).

Samsung Wins Partial Judgment On Patent Claims In Texas Court

DALLAS - A patent dispute over smartphone technology was pared down Feb. 6 by a Texas federal judge who granted partial summary judgment on infringement allegations levied against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Samsung Telecommunications America LLC (Samsung, collectively) (Summit 6 LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., et al., No. 11-367, N.D. Texas).

Washington Jury Awards Couple With Asbestos Diseases $1.07M

SEATTLE - A Washington jury on Feb. 4 awarded $1.07 million to a woman with mesothelioma and her husband, who has asbestos-related pleural disease, sources told Mealey Publications (Phyllis Granville, Ronald Granville v. Domco Products Texas Inc., No. 12-2-02999-7, Wash. Super., King Co.).

Issue On Insurance Policy Exclusion Is A Question For A Jury, Magistrate Finds

SHERMAN, Texas - Whether an insurance policy excludes coverage for water damage and foundation problems is a question for a jury, a Texas federal magistrate said Jan. 31, recommending that summary judgment be denied to an insurer on breach of contract claims (Terry Button and Ossie Button v. Chubb Lloyds Insurance Company of Texas, No. 11-536, E.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13010).