Tag Archives: Texas


Negligent Undertaking Claim Against Amazon May Succeed Where a Products Liability Claim Fails

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In Johnson v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 4:22-CV-04086, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59196, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas held that Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) can be liable for negligent undertaking claims when products sold on its website are defective.

In Johnson, the Plaintiff, Joshua Johnson (Johnson), purchased a bathmat on Amazon. The bathmat was designed, manufactured and sold by Comuster, a Chinese entity. Nine months after purchasing the bathmat, the bathmat shifted while Johnson was taking a shower and caused him to fall. Johnson sustained a severe cut on his arm that required surgery and left significant scarring.

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This entry was posted in Negligence, Products Liability, Texas and tagged , , , .

Certificates of Merit: Is Your Texas Certificate Sufficient?

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In Eric L. Davis Eng’g, Inc. v. Hegemeyer, No. 14-22-00657-CV, 2023 Tex. App. LEXIS 8899, the Court of Appeals of Texas (Court of Appeals) considered whether the plaintiffs’ certificate of merit, in support of their professional malpractice claim against the defendant engineers, adequately set forth the experience and qualifications of the expert who submitted the certificate. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the certificate of merit was inadequate because it failed to establish that the expert practiced in the same specific areas as the defendants in relation to the work at issue. The lower court denied the defendants’ motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that there was sufficient information for the lower court to have reasonably found that the plaintiffs’ expert practiced in the same area as the defendants.

In Hegemeyer, the plaintiffs sued Eric L. Davis Engineering, Inc. (Davis) and Kenneth L. Douglass (Douglass), alleging improper design of their home’s foundation. The plaintiffs retained Davis to design and engineer the home and Douglass prepared the plans for the home. The plans called for the installation of post-tension cables in the home’s foundation. The plaintiffs alleged that the foundation design was improper and brought professional malpractice claims against Davis and Douglass.

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This entry was posted in Certificate of Merit, Litigation, Malpractice, Texas and tagged , , , .

No Signature, No Problem: Texas Court Holds Contractual Subrogation Waiver Still Enforceable

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In Chubb Lloyds Inc. Co. of Tex. v. Buster & Cogdell Builders, LLC, No. 01-21-00503-CV, 2023 Tex. App. LEXIS 676, the Court of Appeals of Texas, First District (Court of Appeals) considered whether the lower court properly dismissed the plaintiff’s subrogation case by enforcing a subrogation waiver in a construction contract which was not fully executed.  The contract was signed by only one of the two subrogors and was not signed by the defendant general contractor.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, holding that despite the lack of signatures, the evidence established mutual assent to the contractual terms by all parties.

The plaintiff’s subrogors, Jeffrey and Mary Meyer (collectively, the Meyers), retained defendant Buster & Codgell Builders (BCB) to expand their residence.  BCB drafted a contract using the American Institute of Architects (AIA) standard form contract for residential construction.  The AIA contract included, by reference, a subrogation waiver that applied to BCB and its subcontractors.  Prior to beginning the work, BCB emailed Jeffrey Meyer a version of the contract that only had one signature block for both Jeffrey and Mary Meyer.  Minutes later, BCB sent a second version of the contract which had a signature line for each of the Meyers.  However, Jeffrey Meyer signed the first version of the contract and emailed it back to BCB.  In the subject line of his email, Mr. Meyers asked that BCB countersign and return the contract.  BCB did not sign and return the contract.

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This entry was posted in AIA Contracts, Contracts, Subrogation, Texas, Waiver of Subrogation and tagged , , , , , .

Too Costly to Be Fair: Texas Appellate Court Finds the Arbitration Clause in a Residential Construction Contract Unenforceable

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In Cont’l Homes of Tex., L.P. v. Perez, No. 04-21-00396-CV, 2022 Tex. App. LEXIS 7691, the Court of Appeals of Texas (Appellate Court) considered whether the lower court erred in refusing to enforce an arbitration clause in a construction contract between the parties. The Appellate Court considered the costs of the arbitration forum required by the contract in the context of the plaintiffs’ monthly household income. The court also compared the arbitration cost to the estimated cost of litigating the dispute. The court held that the arbitration clause was substantively unconscionable on the grounds that the arbitration costs were not affordable for the plaintiffs and not an “adequate and accessible substitute to litigation.”  The Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s decision denying the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Arbitration, Construction Defects, Contracts, Texas and tagged , , , , , .

Hold on Just One Second: Texas Clarifies Starting Point for Negligence Statute of Limitations

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In construction or similar ongoing projects, problems often pop up. Sometimes they can pop up again and again. Making things even more complicated, one problem may affect another, seemingly new problem. When these construction problems result in property damage, timelines tend to overlap and determining when a statute of limitation begins to run for a particular claim can be difficult. Especially in states with short statute of limitations for tort claims like Texas, knowing when a statute begins to run is crucial for a subrogation professional. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Construction Defects, Negligence, Statute of Limitations-Repose, Texas and tagged , , , , .

Texas Federal Court Rules Amazon Can Be Sued for Defective Product

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Recently, in McMillan v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 18-CV-2242, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102025, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) could be held liable as a “seller” under Texas’ product liability statute for injuries caused by a defective product sold by a third-party vendor on its website. Although the court’s analysis is based on Texas law, the decision puts one more crack in Amazon’s armor. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Products Liability, Texas and tagged , , .
Signing Agreement

“Wait! Do You Have All Your Ducks in a Row?” Filing of a Certificate of Merit in Conjunction With a Complaint

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In Barrett v. Berry Contr. L.P., No. 13-18-00498-CV, 2019 Tex. LEXIS 8811, the Thirteenth District Court of Appeals of Texas considered, among other things, the procedural timing requirements of filing a certificate of merit in conjunction with a complaint. The court concluded that the proper reading of the statute requires a plaintiff to file a certificate of merit with the first complaint naming the defendant as a party. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Construction Defects, Statute of Limitations-Repose, Texas and tagged , , , .
Large Property Loss

Texas Walks the Line on When the Duty to Preserve Evidence at a Fire Scene Arises

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The extent to which a loss scene can be altered before adversaries can legitimately cry spoliation has long been a mysterious battleground in the world of subrogation. In the case of In re Xterra Constr., LLC, No. 10-16-00420-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 3927 (Tex. App. – Waco, May 15, 2019), the Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District, addressed the question of when a party has a duty to preserve evidence. The court found that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing sanctions on the defendants for the spoliation of evidence as the evidence at issue was already gone by the time the defendants knew or reasonably should have known there was a substantial chance a claim would be filed against them. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Spoliation, Subrogation, Texas and tagged , , .

Privileged Communications With a Testifying Client/Expert

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In In re City of Dickinson, 568 S.W.3d 642 (Tex. 2019), the Supreme Court of Texas recently assessed whether a client’s emails with its counsel were subject to disclosure after the client was designated as a testifying expert witness. In re City of Dickinson involved a coverage dispute between a policyholder and its insurer. The policyholder moved for summary judgment on the issue of causation, essentially alleging that its insurer did not pay all damages caused by Hurricane Ike. In responding to the motion, the insurer relied upon an affidavit by one of its employees, a claims examiner, that included both factual testimony and expert witness testimony. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Discovery, Privilege, Texas and tagged , , , .
Construction Defect

Texas Court of Appeals Strictly Enforces Certificate of Merit Requirements for Claims Against Professionals

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In Texas, an action against a licensed/registered professional arising from the provision of professional services requires the plaintiff to file a “Certificate of Merit” (COM), which is an affidavit from a third-party professional setting forth the theory of liability against the professional. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 150.002. The COM must be filed contemporaneously with the complaint, unless the following two conditions, contained within Section 150.002(c), are both satisfied. First, the action must be filed within ten days of the expiration of the statute of limitations or repose. Second, the plaintiff must specifically allege in its initial petition against the professional that there is insufficient time to obtain a COM before the statute of limitations or repose expires. In such cases, a court will grant the plaintiff a 30-day extension to file a COM and the plaintiff may obtain further extensions from the court for “good cause.” If a plaintiff fails to comply with the COM requirement, Section 150.002(e) requires the court to dismiss the complaint and the dismissal “may be with prejudice.” Continue reading

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