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.
In an opinion handed down last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court held that, where an arbitration is governed by the Texas General Arbitration Act, or "TAA," courts cannot vacate the arbitration award on the grounds that the arbitrator "manifestly disregarded the law." Justice Debra Lerhmann, writing for a unanimous Court in Hoskins v. Hoskins, reasoned that the language of the TAA "could not be plainer" in requiring that a "trial court 'shall confirm' an award unless vacatur is required under one of the enumerated grounds" in the statute, "which do not include an arbitrator's manifest disregard of the law."