Supreme Court of Texas to Hear Oral Arguments at Baylor Law School on Wednesday
WACO, Texas (March 29, 2016) – The Supreme Court of Texas will hear oral arguments in two cases beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 30, at Baylor Law School, 1114 S. University Parks Drive on the Baylor campus.
The public and media are invited to this rare traveling event, which will take place in the Law School’s Jim Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Classroom and Courtroom, Room 127. Visitors are asked to arrive at least 45 minutes early to pass through security before arguments begin.
Arguments will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at approximately 10:30 a.m. The Justices will hold a short question-and-answer session for the benefit of the audience at 11 a.m.
NOTE TO MEDIA
Video cameras will be set up in a designated area. Video cameras will need to remain in place until the first argument is over, to avoid disruption. If media do not plan to stay for both arguments, they will need to break down quickly and clear the area before the Court returns from its 10-minute break between the first and second arguments.
Still photographers will be required to shoot from a fixed location and their cameras must be encased by mufflers to avoid the clicking noise.
Reporters (as the public) should remain for the select argument duration, but may leave at the end of the first case, to avoid disruption.
CASES TO BE HEARD
Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation v. Bonnie Jones and American Home Assurance Company
This is a Worker’s Compensation Case. Bonnie Jones was injured on the job. One benefit of Worker’s Compensation is called Supplemental Income Benefits. An injured worker can qualify, but must make efforts to find a job to qualify. The statute requires the injured worker to make four attempts per week to find work. Ms. Jones admittedly did not make the required efforts. But, she did receive counseling on finding work, and the approved plan was for her to return to school and to retrain for a new career. She did that.
The administrative body denied her request for Supplemental Income Benefits, and Ms. Jones challenged the denial at District Court. At the District Court level, she was opposed by her Worker’s Compensation Insurance carrier – American Home Assurance Company. Before a trial on the merits of the claim, Ms. Jones and American Home agreed to a settlement. Instead of full Supplemental Income Benefits that she was seeking in Court, Ms. Jones would receive a lump sum of about $1,500. Ms. Jones and American Home agreed and asked the District Court Judge to make that award.
The Department of Insurance then intervened and argued that any award was prohibited by statute because Ms. Jones did not make the required number of attempts to find work. According to the Department of Insurance, the District Court may not allow the parties to settle. The issue for decision is whether the statute prohibits a settlement when the settlement agreement is arguably contrary to the statute.
Brenton M. Stanfield, Thomas P. Stone, Stone & Associates, LLP, Jimmy Van Knighton, II v. Jon T. Neubaum and Barbara Neubaum
This is a Legal Malpractice Case. Jon and Barbara Neubaum were sued by a customer of their business. Over the course of regular dealings, the Nuebaums advanced funds to a customer of their business. The customer would use the advanced funds to buy raw materials. The profit on the product sold would be split between the Neubaums and their customer. At one point, the customer had failed to repay the funds advanced, and the Neubaums pressed for payment. When pressed, the customer gave the Neubaums a promissory note for the amount owed, and promptly sued the Neubaums.
The Neubaums retained lawyers to defend the case. The customers claimed that the advance for material plus the sharing of profits resulted in usurious interest. Usury carries substantial penalties, and liability for damages and attorney’s fees. The case was tried to a jury, and the Neubaums succeeded on their claims for money owed, and other claims, but were found liable on the usury claim.
The Neubaums appealed. On appeal, the Beaumont Court ruled that the usury claim could not stand because it depended on a finding of agency that was unsupported by the evidence. So, the Neubaums won their case (the money that they were owed) and had no liability for the usury claim.
The Neubaums sued the lawyers that tried their case. They contended that a prudent trial lawyer would have never lost the usury case. According to the Neubaums, aside from the argument about agency liability for usury, their lawyer failed to present critical evidence that would have proved that no usury was charged at all. In essence, had the lawyer performed consistent with the practice of a reasonably prudent lawyer, it would not have been necessary to have an appeal court correct an erroneous judgment. The issue for decision is whether a claim for professional negligence can be based on a lower court’s error.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT BAYLOR LAW SCHOOL
Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,200 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as #3 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked No. 51 in the magazine’s 2015 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law in its top 10 law schools for practical training, and second best value in private legal education in the nation. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Learn more at www.baylor.edu/law.