Mandatory Venue Previsions of the Texas Tort Claims Act
In re Leo Hubbard and Crete Carrier Corp.:
This case arose from a multi-vehicle accident in Denton County involving an employee of Celina Independent School District, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, and Leo Hubbard (employee of Crete Carrier Corp.) and Crete Carrier Corp. Suit was filed in Dallas County, a county available under the general venue statute. But, because Celina ISD is a governmental unit under the Texas Tort Claims Act, the mandatory venue provision under the Texas Tort Claims Act was available.
The mandatory venue provision states that suits brought under the Texas Tort Claims Act shall be brought in the county in which the cause of action or part of the cause of action arises—which, in this case, was Denton County. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 101.102(a) (West 2011).
Although Celina ISD waived its right to assert this mandatory venue provision, Leo Hubbard and Crete Carrier Corporation, two other defendants in the lawsuit, filed a motion to transfer venue based upon this mandatory provision. The trial court denied the motion to transfer venue. But, the Dallas Court of Appeals granted mandamus relief.
The Dallas Court of Appeals held that despite the fact that the governmental entity waived its mandatory venue right, neither the Texas Tort Claims Act nor the rules prohibit another defendant from insisting that venue be in the court required by the mandatory venue provision contained in the Texas Tort Claims Act.
Expert testimony necessary to establish the standard of care in transportation cases
FFE Transportation Services, Inc. v. Larry Fulgham and Debra Fulgham
This is case involving a negligence and products liability clam made by an owner/operator against the contracted motor carrier for allegedly failing to provide a safe trailer in which to transport a refrigerated load. Plaintiff contended the trailer was poorly maintained and had visible rusted bolts on the trailer frame.
At the close of Plaintiff's case in chief, Defendants sought a Motion for Directed Verdict on the basis that Defendant could not be held strictly liable and that Plaintiff had not presented any evidence to support their negligence claim.
After the Dallas Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the Texas Supreme Court held the following:
Defendant did not place the trailer into interstate commerce, but simply made the trailer available to its driver and did not lease or sale the trailer thus no strict liability cause of action existed; and
the proper inspection and maintenance of a commercial refrigerated trailer involves techniques unfamiliar to the ordinary person and that an expert is necessary to establish the applicable standard of care.
The Texas Supreme Court affirmed the Directed Verdict in Defendant's favor.