Summary judgment victories are important because they can save insurers/defendants thousands of dollars by successfully ending a case prior to trial. Having a Motion for Summary Judgment granted by the Court effectively ends a case with no liability finding against the defendant. Often, once an opposing attorney reviews the summary judgment and realizes its merit, he/she would prefer to settle the case rather than have it dismissed through a summary judgment. We’d like to share just a few of our recent summary judgment victories:
NO COURSE AND SCOPE: Partner Wayne Gordon and associates Amie Fordan and Andrew Johnson successfully persuaded a Tarrant County District Judge to grant summary judgment as to all claims in favor of a corporate client on a serious personal injury case arising out of an automobile collision. The Court held that, as a matter of law, the driver of the vehicle was not in the course and scope of employment of the client at the time of this collision. The plaintiff, a passenger in the vehicle in question, had sustained multiple serious injuries, and was seeking medical expenses in excess of $250,000.00.
NO DUTY TO PARTYGOERS: Partner Mike Tanner and associate Amie Fordan successfully defended the appeal of a summary judgment they obtained in favor of the owners of a lake house in a brain damage case. The owners of a lake house allowed their adult daughter to host a gathering of her friends. After spending time at the lake house, a group took a boat and a Sea Doo personal watercraft to a nearby cove where they stopped to swim. The Plaintiff jumped from the boat into the water, and shortly thereafter he was struck on the head by a personal watercraft that was being driven by one of the partygoers. Law enforcement officers determined that the driver was intoxicated. The injured man and his wife sued the homeowners for negligence and gross negligence, alleging that alcohol was served at their lake house and that they had entrusted the lake house for a party without having rules regarding drinking and the operation of watercrafts. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the lake house owners, and the Fifth Court of Appeals recently affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment.
WAITED TOO LATE TO FILE: Partner Ron Johnson and associate Amie Fordan recently obtained a summary judgment in favor of a defendant in a multi-party medical malpractice case related to the death of a young girl. The girl’s mother had sued a number of doctors, nurses, and a hospital for failing to treat a previously-diagnosed enlarged aorta when the child presented to the hospital with serious orthopedic injuries. The Dallas County trial judge agreed with the legal arguments and authority presented in the Motion for Summary Judgment, which analyzed the complicated interplay between Texas statutes of limitations, the Texas wrongful death and survival statutes, the Texas Medical Liability Act, and the Texas Constitution.
COURT NOT IN BUSINESS OF INTERPRETING CHURCH LAW: Partner Ron Johnson and associate Christian Shippee won a summary judgment in an employment lawsuit filed by a former employee of a church. The employee claimed breach of his employment contract, tortious interference, and gross negligence following his termination from a church. Mr. Shippee argued, among other things, that the employee’s claims required an interpretation of ecclesiastical law that was beyond the jurisdiction of the court. The court agreed and entered a take-nothing judgment against the Plaintiff.