Blog

Texas Supreme Court Adopts "Sham Affidavit" Rule

Photo of Brian Humphrey

In a 9-0 opinion issued today, the Texas Supreme Court adopted the so-called "sham affidavit rule" for summary judgment proceedings in Texas courts. This rule, which has long been applied in federal courts, allows judges to disregard an affidavit offered in opposition to a motion for summary judgment when the affidavit conflicts with the affiant's prior sworn testimony and "does not provide a sufficient explanation for the conflict." Practitioners and litigants in Texas courts should be aware of this rule when filing or responding to a motion for summary judgment or preparing for a deposition.

In the case, Lujan v. Navistar, Inc., Albert Lujan sued Navistar, Inc. claiming mechanical problems with trucks he purchased for his flower delivery business. After years of litigation, Navistar moved for summary judgment, arguing that Lujan did not have standing to sue in his individual capacity because the trucks did not belong to him, but rather that Lujan had transferred the trucks to a corporation he controlled along with the rest of the business's assets. In response, Lujan filed an affidavit it which he testified that he had never transferred the trucks to the corporation. However, the trial court disregarded the affidavit and entered summary judgment for Navistar, finding that the affidavit conflicted with earlier statements by his lawyer and earlier deposition testimony in which he admitted that the corporation filed tax returns claiming the trucks as its assets.

Lujan appealed, and the 14th Court of Appeals affirmed in a 2-1 decision. In a majority opinion written by Justice Ken Wise, joined by Justice Justice Martha Hill Jamison, the 14th Court of Appeals adopted the sham affidavit doctrine, which had previously been adopted by some other courts, and held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in striking Lujan's affidavit because it conflicted with his prior testimony without adequate explanation. Justice Sharon McCally dissented, writing that the sham affidavit doctrine was directly contrary to a prior Texas Supreme Court case, Randall v. Dallas Power & Light Co., which held that "'a deposition does not have controlling effect over an affidavit in determining whether a motion for summary judgment should be granted,'" and that the doctrine is not supported by the rules.

After Lujan appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, Justice Jimmy Blacklock, writing for a unanimous Court, recognized that Texas courts of appeals had adopted the federal doctrine and held that it was supported by the language of Rule 166a requiring the creation of a "genuine" issue of fact to defeat a motion for summary judgment. The Court reasoned that the doctrine gave effect to the court's authority to distinguish genuine fact issues under the rules. The Court did not overrule Randall v. Dallas Power & Light Co., but instead simply held that Randall had not considered the sham affidavit doctrine.

If you or someone you know needs a lawyer for a civil litigation matter, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories