Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

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While the Supreme Court was asked in this case to recognize tortious interference with an inheritance as a viable cause of action in Texas, the court was not persuaded to consider it because Petitioners and cross-respondents, the Kinsels, had an adequate remedy in this case. In this case involving the sale of a ranch, the Kinsels sought damages for tortious interference with their inheritances, statutory and common-law fraud, and conspiracy. The jury found for the Kinsels on every claim. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s award of damages for tortious interference with an inheritance on the basis that neither the Texas legislature nor the Supreme Court has recognized that cause of action. On appeal, the Kinsels urged the Supreme Court to recognize tortious interference with an inheritance as a cause of action and uphold their recovery. The Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that the facts of this case did not warrant an enlargement of this state’s body of tort law, as the law provided an adequate remedy in this case - a constructive trust imposed on the disputed inheritance. View "Kinsel v. Lindsey" on Justia Law

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The nearly identical wills of Vencie Beard and Melba Beard contained a provision stating that if both the husband and wife died in a “common disaster or under circumstances making it impossible to determine [who] died first,” the testator bequeathed specified cash amounts to nine individuals. Melba died at 8:59 p.m. and Vencie died at 10:55 p.m. on the same night after Vencie shot and killed Mebla before taking his own life. The trial court determined that the Beards died in a common disaster and that the Simultaneous Death Act (SDA) was incorporated into the Beards’ wills. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Beards’ deaths did not trigger the common-disaster provisions in their wills. View "Stephens v. Beard" on Justia Law

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More than fifty years ago, various real-property interests were distributed to three children under their mother’s will. Heirs of the original devisees argued over the proper construction of the will provisions and the quantum of royalty bequeathed to each sibling. At issue was whether double-fraction language in the will fixed the siblings’ devised royalty at 1/24 - allowing the fee owner the exclusive benefit of any negotiated royalty exceeding 1/8 - or whether the testatrix intended the devisees to share equally in all future royalties. The trial court rendered judgment that the testatrix’s will entitled each child to 1/3 of any and all royalty interest on all the devised land tracts. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, after considering the will in its entirety, the testatrix intended her children to share future royalties equally, bequeathing to each child a 1/3 floating royalty, not a 1/24 fixed royalty. View "Hysaw v. Dawkins" on Justia Law

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Lorene and Harley Walter owned a certificate of deposit account with Bank of America. The account was a survivorship account and a payable-on-death account. After Harley died and while Lorene was still alive, the Bank distributed the funds in the account to Dwight Eisenhauer and Jo Ann Day, the named beneficiaries on the account, in equal sums. The Bank violated its deposit agreement with the Walters in doing so because these payments were made before Harley’s death. Eisenhauer, using his power of attorney, deposited his check into an account in Lorene’s name, making himself beneficiary upon her death. After Lorene died, Eisenhauer, as the independent executor of Lorene’s estate, sued the Bank for breach of the deposit agreement. The jury found that the Bank had failed to comply with the agreement but that the estate suffered no damages. The trial court subsequently granted judgment for Eisenhauer notwithstanding the jury’s verdict and rendered judgment for the amount that had been distributed to Day, plus interest, costs, and attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in granting judgment notwithstanding the verdict to Eisenhauer, as the evidence supported the jury’s finding that the estate suffered no damages. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Eisenhauer" on Justia Law