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Texas Supreme Court Cases Set for Feb. 16 at LETU


The two cases that the Texas Supreme Court will hear in oral arguments on Thursday, Feb. 16, at LeTourneau University have been announced.

The first case is an inheritance rights case out of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh District of Texas at Amarillo, Texas: Virginia O. Kinsel v. Jane O. Lindsey and Keith Branyon and Jackson Walker LLP from Tarrant County and the Amarillo Court of Appeals.

The issues in this case are (1) whether Texas law recognizes tortious interference with inheritance rights; (2) whether sufficient evidence supports the jury's fraud verdict and its damages award; (3) whether damages may be awarded based on the jury's undue-influence finding; and (4) whether sufficient evidence supports the jury's finding that a woman lacked mental capacity to amend her trust.

"The Kinsel case is important because the Texas Supreme Court's decision will likely determine whether Texas legally recognizes a cause of action for tortious interference with inheritance rights, a claim that enables people to protect their beneficial interests in estates and trusts," Scott Stevens, a local lawyer with the law firm of Stevens | Henry, PLLC in Longview. "This cause of action is currently recognized by a majority of the states in this country."

The second case is about medical malpractice and government immunity out of Houston's First Court of Appeals: Leah Anne Gonski Marino, M.D. v. Shirley Lenoir from Haskell County and Houston's First Court of Appeals.

The principal issues in this case stem from this challenge to a medical resident's dismissal from a malpractice claim are (1) whether the trial court's dismissal order was interlocutory (issued before judgment) and (2) whether the resident is protected by governmental immunity if she is hired and paid by a separate foundation but supervised by employees of a medical school clinic. Appeals from interlocutory orders generally are not allowed except by limited statutory exceptions to avoid a case being appealed piecemeal.

"The Marino case is important because the Texas Supreme Court's decision could impact circumstances under which governmental employees, including medical residents assigned to work at different clinics, are entitled to governmental employee immunity for acts caused by their own negligence, which could further have an impact on graduate medical education and patient care in Texas," Stevens said.

Jessica LaRue, president of the Gregg County Bar Association, said, the local bar association is looking forward to this historic visit from the Texas Supreme Court.

"The issues being decided in these cases are significant and will be of great interest not only to the legal community but also the public at large," she said.

LeTourneau University is hosting the Supreme Court of Texas for oral arguments in these two cases from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the Belcher Center at LETU's main campus, 2100 S. Mobberly Ave. in Longview. The public is invited to attend the oral arguments, which will include a question-and-answer session, and see how the highest court in the state for civil appeals operates. People planning to attend are asked to arrive at least 45 minutes early to pass security screening before arguments begin and should not bring backpacks and purses. All cell phones will be required to be turned off. No flash photography will be permitted.

Justices will also hold breakout sessions from 1:30 to 3 p.m., on campus for students and at the Gregg County Courthouse for attorneys and other legal professionals. Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd, an ordained minister, also will conduct a public afternoon session on "God, the Courts and the Law" in the Belcher Center.

Concurrently, LETU is also hosting "Law as a Career Day" on campus to enable high school and college-age students to learn more about legal careers. Law schools, paralegal schools and court-reporter schools will have recruiting booths to provide information and answer questions about their programs.

Justice Don Willett will lead a session for college students, and Justice John Devine will lead a session for high school students. High school students who attend also will be offered tours of the university and visits with faculty. Students who register will be provided a free lunch.

Lawyers will be eligible for 2.5 hours of continuing legal-education credit for attending the oral arguments and the question-and-answer session with the Court. Each of seven afternoon breakout sessions at the Gregg County Courthouse will offer 1.5 hours of CLE credit.

A schedule of events and descriptions of breakout sessions is available on the Gregg County Bar Association web page, www.greggcountybar.com.

LeTourneau University is the Christian polytechnic university in the nation where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community. LETU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a range of disciplines and delivery models at LETU's residential campus in Longview, Texas, and in hybrid and fully online options at centers in Dallas and Houston.

Categories: History, Political Science