Texas has an unusual appeals process for judicial cases. District courts, where trials on matters of fact are held, are separated into different types according to the kind of cases they hear. You may notice when you vote in county elections, there are civil courts, criminal courts, probate courts, family courts, etc.
All these cases are appealed to a court that has jurisdiction in all of those areas. The First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals, which meet in Houston, hear all kinds of criminal and civil cases.
After that, however, the process splits again. Criminal cases go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Civil cases go to the Texas Supreme Court.
Go the the Texas Supreme Court website: http://www.txcourts.gov/supreme/
Use the “case search” feature to find a case called “J & D Towing, LLC v. American Alternative Insurance Corporation (14-0574),” decided on January 8, 2016. This case involves a tow truck that was hit by a car and declared a total loss. The small towing company settled with the other driver for the cost of its only tow truck, but that driver’s insurance policy limits ($25,000) did not permit recovery for additional damages, such as the revenue they couldn’t earn without their truck. The towing company then sued its own insurance carrier, arguing that its uninsured/under insured motorist protection should also cover the company’s damages from loss-of-use of the truck. The applicable law seems to say that you can recover for lost revenue if an asset is damaged, but not if it’s destroyed – going back to a 1932 case about the death of a horse.
Write a 2 – 5 page essay explaining the basic facts of the case and who was suing whom. Explain who won, and why the majority decided that way.
The Supreme Court of Texas blog is a great place to start: http://data.scotxblog.com/scotx/no/14-0574
The Law 360 blog covered oral arguments last fall: http://www.law360.com/articles/698078/texas-towing-co-says-state-s-lost-profits-law-is-arbitrary
Lexology.com has a nice summary of the case: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=c8f15a4a-b006-42f8-a0c9-468169d2e630
Note on state court websites
The last few semesters, both websites you need for the Texas Judiciary assignment seem to have a lot of problems. If the websites are down, which they always seem to be about the time this assignment is due, here are some alternative ways to get the information you need.
Use “FindLaw,” an online resource for lawyers. They charge for certain things, but this information is available for free.
Go to Findlaw’s Texas page and find the case for this assignment:
Here’s another way to get to the case in case Findlaw doesn’t work: https://law.justia.com/cases/texas/supreme-court/2016/14-0574.html