The Texas Supreme Court has two cases on its oral-argument docket for tomorrow, 12/5/13.
1. Houston Unlimited, Inc. Metal Processing v. Mel Acres Ranch involves a claim of environmental contamination. There are two principal issues:
-- Can a landowner recover for permanent injury to land based on "stigma" when the environmental contamination was only temporary? Under this issue, the defendant argues, among other things, that the TCEQ standards displace any common-law duty.
-- Was the testimony of the plaintiff's valuation expert legally insufficient to support the award for diminution in market value? Among other things, the defendant argues that the testimony was speculative because the expert was uninformed about the contamination and he used sales that were not comparable.
2. King Fisher Marine Servs., L.P. v. Tamez is a Jones Act case involving injury to a seaman. There are two principal issues:
-- Does the "specific order" doctrine apply on the basis that the seaman was operating under a perceived emergency situation? A specific order is one that requires a seaman to perform a task in a particular way. The doctrine excuses any contributory negligence by the seaman.
-- Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying the defendant's objection and tender of a definition of "specific order" to accompany the question given to the jury? The defendant objected and tendered before the charge was read to the jury (as required by TRCP 272), but the trial court ruled that the objection and tender should have been made the day before.
-- Scott Stolley, Thompson & Knight