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Business Litigation Archives

Texas Supreme Court Weighs in on Post-Judgement Claims Against a Defendant's Insurer

Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion in Great American Insurance Company v. Hamel clarifying the circumstances where an insurer who refuses to provide a defense to its insured may be held accountable for a judgment successfully obtained against its insured. In the underlying case, homeowners sued their builder for failing to construct their home in a good and workmanlike manner. They claimed that defects in workmanship caused water damage. The builder's insurance company refused to provide the builder with a defense to the homeowner's claims. Prior to trial, the homeowners and builder agreed, in effect, that if the homeowners were successful, then the homeowners would not seek to collect on the assets of the builder.

Harris County v. Harris County Appraisal District and PRSI Trading, LLC

Harris County, represented by firm attorneys Benny Agosto, Jr. and Brian S. Humphrey II, received an important win from a Houston appellate court in a property tax case involving a Houston oil refinery. In a 2-1 decision handed down last Thursday, the First Court of Appeals in Harris County v. Harris County Appraisal District reversed the trial court's ruling and rendered judgment that inventory held in a refinery operated by Pasadena Refining System, Inc. was not exempt from local property taxes under the federal Foreign Trade Zones Act. The exemption was claimed on crude oil, refined products, and other inventory valued at over $100 million during the relevant tax years, representing millions in tax revenue for Harris County and the other taxing jurisdictions.

Changes for Consumer Suits Against Banks on the Horizon

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection recently issued a proposed rule that would restore consumers' rights to bring class-action lawsuits against financial firms, such as banks and credit card companies. The proposed rule would prevent enforcement of arbitration clauses requiring consumers to present their disputes to private arbitrators favorable to the financial firms.

Tom Brady's "Deflategate" Win Part of a Bad Month for Sports Arbitration

If you follow sports at all, you have undoubtedly heard about the "Deflategate" scandal that has embroiled the NFL throughout the offseason, in which New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended by the NFL for four games after being found complicit in a scheme to deflate game balls to suit Brady's preference before the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. You probably have also heard about last week's ruling by a federal judge overturning the suspension and ordering Brady reinstated.

Apple App Security Breach

In early September there were hundreds of legitimate apps in the iOS App Store infected with malicious code. Apple is well known for strict security checks that rarely allow any negative damaging software into their merchandise. The technology giant is in the process of shutting down the first large-scale software breach that runs from iPhones and iPads via apps.

Citibank's Deceptive Marketing

Citibank, the consumer division of Citigroup Inc., has been ordered by the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to pay $700 million to their borrowers for illegal credit card practices. As many as 7 million of their clients have been affected by the financial service company's "deceptive marketing". According to international news agency Reuters, some of the illusive practices were misrepresenting costs and fees as well as charging for services they did not render. For the deceitful marking or retention actions, Citibank was ordered to provide $479 million for consumer relief for about 4.8 million accounts. However, only about $196 million was paid to 2.2% of consumers who purchased the option of monitored credit.

Point-Of-Sale Malware Responsible for Credit Card Breaches

Across the United States, a Denver based company, Service Systems Associates (SSA), functions as a credit and debit card processing system for many zoos and other cultural centers. According to Brian Krebs of KrebsonSecurity, this past week the company acknowledged that there has been a breach in some of their processing systems. Customers that have used their debit or credit cards at certain facilities between March 23 and June 25, 2015 may have had their information compromised. CBS Detroit reported that SSA is investigating a breach that may involve point-of-sale malware. The processing company is working with law enforcement officials as well as a third-party forensic investigator, Sikich.

Could There Be Civil Liability for the Cardinals in the Astros Hacking Scandal?

Normally, baseball talk in June is all about personnel moves leading up to the trade deadline: Who needs to pick up a starting pitcher to make a run at the post-season? Who is going to give up on their season and trade away their superstars to stock up their farm system?

Walmart's Low Wage Violation Could Cost Millions

In California, Walmart was sued by its truck drivers in 2008 for not adequately compensating the drivers for non-driving tasks. In the ongoing case, the drivers argue that minimum wage hasn't been met for activities outside of delivering. Walmart pays its truckers only for miles driven and a set few activities, not by the hour. Such tasks that weren't compensated for were vehicle inspections, miscellaneous maintenance, and the constant weigh-ins for cargo. These are responsibilities performed by truck drivers on a regular basis but have been unpaid for, despite many being mandatory by state law. United States District Judge Susan Illston ruled in favor of the truckers, holding Walmart in violation of the California minimum wage laws. An estimation of over 100 million dollars of back pay is on the line, with damages to be discussed by the trial court next April.

Texas Supreme Court Recognizes Expanded Standing for Shareholders of Closely Held Corporations

On May 29, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in Sneed v. Webre, in which it tackled two issued regarding shareholder derivative suits involving closely held corporations: First, whether these suits may be barred by the business judgment rule, and, second, whether Texas recognizes the "double-derivative" standing of a parent company's shareholder tof sue on behalf of a subsidiary. In an important win for shareholders' rights after Ritchie v. Rupe, the Supreme Court answered both questions in favor of the shareholder.

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