Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas
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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over an administrative order because E.A. did not move for rehearing before the administrative law judge and rejecting E.A.'s due process challenge based on the agency's misrepresentation of the proper procedure for judicial review, holding that E.A. was denied due process under the circumstances of this case. In Mosley v. Texas Health & Human Services Commission, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court held that, under the Administrative Procedures Act, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative order must first move for rehearing before the administrative law judge unless another governing statute provides otherwise. This appeal presented the issues decided in Mosley. The Supreme Court (1) agreed with the court of appeals that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because E.A. did not seek rehearing of the order she challenged before the administrative law judge, but (2) held that the agency misrepresented the proper procedure for judicial review in a letter to E.A., thus denying E.A. due process. View "E.A. v. Texas Department of Family & Protective Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over an administrative order because Roderic Horton did not move for rehearing before the administrative law judge and rejecting Horton's due process challenge based on the agency's misrepresentation of the proper procedure for judicial review, holding that Horton was denied due process. In Mosley v. Texas Health & Human Services Commission, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court held that, under the Administrative Procedures Act, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative order must first move for rehearing before the administrative law judge unless another governing statute provides otherwise. This appeal presented the issues decided in Mosley. The Supreme Court (1) agreed with the court of appeals that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because Horton did not seek rehearing of the order she challenged before the administrative law judge, but (2) held that the agency misrepresented the proper procedure for judicial review in a letter to Horton, thus denying Horton due process. View "Horton v. Texas Department of Family & Protective Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over an administrative order because Cheryl Wallace did not move for rehearing before the administrative law judge and rejecting Wallace's due process challenge based on the agency's misrepresentation of the proper procedure for judicial review, holding that Wallace was denied due process. In Mosley v. Texas Health & Human Services Commission, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court held that, under the Administrative Procedures Act, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative order must first move for rehearing before the administrative law judge unless another governing statute provides otherwise. This appeal presented the issues decided in Mosley. The Supreme Court (1) agreed with the court of appeals that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because Wallace did not seek rehearing of the order she challenged before the administrative law judge, but (2) held that the agency misrepresented the proper procedure for judicial review in a letter to Wallace, thus denying Wallace due process. View "Wallace v. Texas Department of Family & Protective Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered questions certified to it by holding that a plasma collection center is a "public facility" under Tex. Hum. Res. Code (THRC) 121.002(5) and that a plasma collection center may reject a person with a disability without committing impermissible discrimination under THRC 121.003(a) when two conditions are met. Appellants were not allowed to donate plasma to CSL Plasma, Inc., a plasma collection center, and filed suit, alleging unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability. The district court granted summary judgment for CSL, concluding that the ADA did not apply and that a plasma collection center could not be considered a public facility under the THRC. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals certified questions to the Supreme Court as to whether the THRC governs plasma collection centers. The Supreme Court answered that a plasma collection center is a public facility under section 121.002(5) and that the center may reject a person with a disability without discriminating when (1) the center's rejection does not meet the THRC's definition of "discrimination" or satisfies an exception to the definition of "discrimination," and (2) the center establishes that allowing a person with a disability use of the public facility would pose a threat to the health or safety of others. View "Silguero v. CSL Plasma, Inc." on Justia Law

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Relator, who was designated a sexually violent predator and civilly committed pursuant to the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act, was not entitled to appointed counsel in proceedings on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the Act’s 2015 amendments. The trial court denied Relator’s request for appointed counsel on the State’s motion to modify Relator’s civil commitment order. The court of appeals granted mandamus relief to Relator, ordering the trial court to vacate its orders and appoint counsel to represent Relator in further proceedings on the State’s motion to modify. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the State’s petition for writ of mandamus, holding that Relator was not entitled to appointed counsel on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the amended Act, and therefore, the court of appeals abused its discretion in granting Relator mandamus relief. View "In re State of Texas" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the Alamo Heights Independent School District was immune from Employee’s suit alleging Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA) claims. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment dismissing Employee’s TCHRA claims in which she alleged same-sex harassment and bullying by female coaches in the girls athletic department at a San Antonio middle school. The Court held (1) the record bore no evidence that the inappropriate conduct alleged was gender motivated, and therefore, the evidence did not raise an inference of gender-motivated discrimination; (2) Employee did not produce evidence to support her retaliation claim when no presumption of unlawful retaliation existed under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework; and (3) governmental immunity was not waived in this case, and subject-matter jurisdiction was lacking. View "Alamo Heights Independent School District v. Clark" on Justia Law

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Paul Green, a former bus monitor for Dallas County Schools (DCS), was terminated because he admitted to “urinating on [himself] and in a water bottle while onboard [a] school bus[.]” Green filed this lawsuit, alleging that DCS terminated his employment because he was disabled. During trial, the jury heard testimony about Green’s heart condition and the drug he was taking that purportedly caused urinary incontinence. The trial court rendered judgment for Green. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that there was no evidence that DCS fired Green “because of” his disability. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred by treating Green’s heart condition as his only disability; and (2) the evidence supported a finding that Green was terminated because of a different disability - urinary incontinence. View "Green v. Dallas County Schools" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against her former employer (Defendant), claiming assault, sexual assault, and battery, among other causes of action. Defendant moved for summary judgment on all claims, arguing, in part, that the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act’s (TCHRA) statutory cause of action preempted Plaintiff’s common law claims. The trial court granted the motion without providing a basis for its ruling. Plaintiff appealed only the trial court’s ruling on her assault claim against Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed on the ground that the TCHRA preempted Plaintiff’s assault claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) where the gravamen of a plaintiff’s claim is not harassment, but rather, assault, the TCHRA does not preempt the plaintiff’s common law assault claim; and (2) because the gravamen of Plaintiff’s complaint in this case was assault, Defendant did not establish, as a matter of law, that Plaintiff’s claim was preempted by the TCHRA. Remanded. View "B.C. v. Steak N Shake Operations, Inc." on Justia Law

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The City of Dallas sought relief from two attorney general decisions concluding that the City must disclose confidential attorney-client communications pursuant to public-information requests the City received regarding the McCommas Bluff Landfill and a convention-center hotel. The information constituted public information under the Texas Public Information Act (PIA), but because the information was subject to the attorney-client privilege, the City argued that the information was excepted from disclosure under the PIA. This dispute arose because the City failed to timely request an attorney general decision affirming that the requested information fell within one of the asserted exceptions, as required by the PIA. The lower courts determined that the attorney-client confidences at issue need not be disclosed to the public-information requestors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) failing to meet the PIA’s deadline to assert a statutory exception to disclosure does not, in and of itself, constitute waiver of the attorney-client privilege, and therefore, requested information is not subject to compelled disclosure under the PIA solely on that basis; and (2) there was a compelling reason to withhold information covered by the attorney-client privilege in this case. View "Paxton v. City of Dallas" on Justia Law

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The Texas Medical Board disciplined Minda Lao Toledo, a physician, for unprofessional conduct and issued a press release regarding the matter. After KBMT Operating Company aired a report of the Board’s action Toledo sued KMBT and three of its employees (collectively, KBMT) for defamation. KBMT filed a motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which allows for the early dismissal of a legal action implicating a defendant’s rights of free speech unless the plaintiff can establish each element of the claim with clear and specific evidence. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that Toledo established a prima facie case of defamation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the truth of a media report of official proceedings of public concern must be measured against the proceedings themselves and not against information outside the proceedings; and (2) in this case, Toledo did not meet her burden of establishing a prima facie case that KBMT’s broadcast was false, and therefore, the Act requires that Toledo’s action be dismissed. View "KBMT Operating Co., LLC v. Toledo" on Justia Law