Civil Liability Cases in Texas

West Star Transportation, Inc., Appellant v. Charles Robison and Cherie Robison, Appellees. No. 07–13–00109–CV. Court of Appeals of Texas, Amarillo.

The trial court decided the case, whose decision was affirmed by the Texas appellate court, stating that West Star Transportation was negligent in providing a safe place to work. Patrick A. Pirtle wrote the court of appeal opinion, and there was no dissenting opinion. The case reflects on Charles Robison, an employee of West Star Transporters who fell from the top of the load while covering a load with a tarp and suffered a brain injury.

The court’s opinion held that West Star Transport was negligent as it failed to provide a safe working environment leading to Charles Robison, an employee suffering brain injury. The trial court argued that West Star Transportation’s negligence was the proximate cause of the incident and awarded Charles Robison and his wife damages amounting to $5.2 million (Bodine, 2015). West Star Transportation argued it was not obligated to warn, supervise or train Robison since he was an experienced flatbed operator with more than 30 years.  The court stated that West Star developed an unreasonable risk of injury to Robison by accepting a large load and failure to provide appropriate safety paraphernalia (Fastcase, 2015). In addition, the court’s opinion stated that all evidence and testimony presented was legally and factually sufficient to support the trial court verdict. The court overruled the remaining issues on appeal such as extent of damages.

I agree with the court’s opinion that West Star Transporters were negligent in providing a safe workplace environment. First, the company erred in accepting a colossal load in the absence of precautions. The flatbed was unequal and approximately 13 feet high. The company borrowed equipment from an adjacent business to lift a 150-pound tarp and Robison to the top of the load. West Star also failed to conduct its operations following a standard shipper manual to reject the load or take appropriate safety precautions.

Cindy ROUCH, Appellant, v. CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC., Appellee. No. 04-00-00280-CV. Court of Appeals of Texas, San Antonio. November 7, 2001

The case was decided by the trial court in Bexar County, Texas. The case was appealed at the appellate court in San Antonio, Texas. Justice Karen Angelini wrote the court of appeal opinion, and there was no dissenting opinion. The case originates from Cindy Rouch’s wrongful termination and defamation action against Continental Airlines, Inc. The court of appeal affirms the trial court’s verdict of granting the defendant move for judgment notwithstanding the verdict based on revelations that Rouch gave consent to the defamatory statements (Fastcase, 2001). Cindy Rouch worked as a sales agent for Continental Airlines, where she was fired for violating the terms of her contract. She lost her termination appeal at the internal affairs where defamatory remarks were made.

Rouch sued Continental Airlines for the defamatory remarks. Continental Airlines argued for judgment notwithstanding the verdict stating that Rouch had consented to the defamatory comments. Rouch Appealed against the notwithstanding verdict and consent in the slanderous remarks aired.  The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision since it argued that Rouch consented to the defamatory comments from employees; thus, the granting of judgment notwithstanding was correct. The court’s opinion was that Rouch agreed to the defamatory remarks through her internal affairs termination appeal, where her whole employment history was under scrutiny. Rouch’s argument that the defamatory remarks were subject to her violation of the notary public terms did not apply since her previous work record was also reviewed during the investigations.

The court’s opinion was correct since her work record was mired with reprimands and questionable actins towards fellow staff. The termination of her contract and subsequent appeal led to the publication of defamatory remarks directed towards her. Rouch consented to submit all her work records to review; thus, the slanderous remarks were part of the investigation to convey reasons to the internal affairs not to reinstate her.

BIC PEN CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. Janace M. CARTER, as Next Friend of Brittany Carter, Respondent. No. 09–0039. Supreme Court of Texas.

The case was decided by a trial court which awarded actual and exemplary damages. BIC Pen Corporation appealed the decision, and 13 district judges affirmed the actual damages but rejected the exemplary damages. Bic appealed to Texas supreme court, which decided the case with no dissenting opinion. Justice Johnson delivered the verdict.

Brittany Carter, who was six years old, was set on fire by her five-year-old brother, who ignited her dress with a Bic lighter. The trial court entered judgment against Bic since the product was defective in design and manufacturing. Janice Carter claimed that the shield force and the fork force deviated from specified customizations, leading to Brittany’s injuries. The trial court awarded the plaintiff actual damages amounting to $ 3million and $2 million in exemplary damages (Fastcase, 2011). The court of appeal affirmed the trial court verdict of defective manufacturing, thus affirmed the actual damages but rejected the exemplary damages. The supreme court argued federal law preempted the defective design claim.

The court’s opinion stated that Janice Carter presented sufficient evidence showing the Bic lighter did not meet the manufacturing threshold. However, the plaintiff failed to the defects that caused Britany’s injuries. The lighter would have been the primary cause of the burn injuries, wherein the injury would not have occurred in the absence of the defects. The supreme court reversed the decision in favor of Bic.

I concur with the supreme court verdict since no evidence showing the fire resulted from the specific manufacturing defects was presented. The evidence presented, such as defective parts and the occurrence of an accident, was insufficient to establish a causation effect of the lighter defects. It was the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove malice where the absence of the defects would have averted the injury.

 

 

References

‌Bodine, L. (2015, February 24). Texas Affirms $5.2 Million Brain Injury Verdict Against Trucking Company – The National Trial Lawyers. Https://Thenationaltriallawyers.org/. https://thenationaltriallawyers.org/2015/02/brain-injury-verdict-affirmed/

Fastcase. (2001, November 7). Fc7.Fastcase.com. https://fc7.fastcase.com/results?q=Cindy%20ROUCH

Fastcase. (2011, August 30). Fc7.Fastcase.com. https://fc7.fastcase.com/results?q=brittany%20carter%20bic%20lighter&order=asc&jdxType=%5B%7B%22type%22:%22Statutes%22

Fastcase. (2015, January 23). Fc7.Fastcase.com. https://fc7.fastcase.com/results?q=west%20star%20transportation%20v.%20robison&order=asc&jdxType=%5B%7B%22type%22:%22Statutes%22

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