The Texas Supreme Court has settled on February 15 as the date to hear opening arguments in two cases as the justices take the bench at Letourneau University (LETU.) In the first case the court will consider an inheritance rights case appealed from the Seventh District of Texas Court at Amarillo. The parties are Virginia O. Kinsel versus Jane O. Lindsey, Keith Branyon and Jackson Walker LLP from Tarrant County. The issues to be settled here are whether or not Texas law recognizes tortious interference with inheritance rights, if there is adequate evidence to justify the lower court’s fraud verdict and damages award, if damages can be awarded on the strength of that jury’s undue-influence finding, and is their enough evidence for this jury’s finding that a woman was not mentally competent to amend her trust.
“The Kinzel case is important because the Texas Supreme Court’s decision will likely determine whether Texas legally recognizes a cause of action for tortious interference with inheritance rights, a claim that enables people to protect their beneficial interests in estates and trusts,” said Scott Stevens, a lawyer with the local law firm Stevens-Henry, PLLC.”This cause of action is currently recognized by a majority of the states in this country.”
The second case concerns a medical malpractice and government immunity appeal out of Houston’s First Court of Appeals. The parties are Lee Anne Goriski Marino, MD versus Shirley Lenoir from Haskell County. The issues here spring from a challenge to a medical resident’s dismissal from a malpractice claim, and are: was the trial court’s dismissal order interlocutory (issued before judgement,) and whether or not the resident is protected by governmental immunity if she is hired and paid by a separate foundation while simultaneously supervised by employees of a medical school’s clinic. Appeals from interlocutory orders are rarely permitted except by limited statutory exceptions to prevent cases from being appealed piecemeal.
“The Marino case is important because the Texas Supreme Court’s decision could impact circumstances in which governmental employees, including medical residents assigned to work at different clinics, are entitled to governmental employee immunity for acts caused by their own negligence, which could further have an impact on graduate medical education and patient care in Texas,” said Stevens.
Gregg County Barr Association President Jessica LaRue is excited about the Texas Supreme Court convening in Longview.
“The issues being decided in these cases are significant and will be of great interest not only to the legal community, but also to the public at large,” she said.
The cases will be heard from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. in the Belcher Center on the university’s main campus at 2100 South Mobberly in Longview. The public is invited to the oral arguments and a question-and-answer session to learn how the state’s highest court for civil appeals operates. Spectators should arrive at least 45 minutes before arguments begin so as to have time to pass through security screening. Backpacks and purses will not be permitted. All cell phones are to be turned off or left home. No flash photographs will be allowed.
The justices will also hold breakout sessions from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. on the campus and in the Gregg County Courthouse for the benefit of students, lawyers and sundry legal professionals. Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd is also an ordained minister and will conduct an open-to-the-public afternoon session titled “God, the courts and the law” in the Belcher Center.
Concurrently, LETU will host “Law as a Career” Day to give high school and college students an opportunity to learn more about the legal profession as a vocation. Law schools, paralegal schools and court reporter schools will set up recruiting booths to distribute information and answer questions.
Justice Don Willett will chair a session for college students while Justice John Devine holds a session for high school students. High schoolers will also be granted tours of the university and interviews with its faculty. Registered students will also receive a free lunch.
Attorneys will furthermore be eligible for 2.5 hours of ongoing legal education credit just for attending the oral arguments and question and answer session with the court. Each of seven afternoon breakout sessions at the Gregg County Courthouse will offer 1.5 hours of CLE credit. The Gregg County Bar Association is providing a schedule of events and outlines of the breakout sessions at.