Appellate Victory in Death Case

  • May 6, 2019

On May 3, 2019, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in favor of the Firm's client in Endeavor Energy Resources v. Cuevas. The Court held that a personal injury plaintiff cannot avoid Chapter 95 simply by alleging negligent hiring.

The case arose after a fatal accident on a drilling rig. Chapter 95 generally applies to industrial accident cases against owners of business property (such as a drill site), but the plaintiffs tried to plead around the statute by alleging "negligent hiring". Plaintiffs argued that "negligent hiring" falls outside the statute because the hiring decision takes place off the premises.

Although plaintiffs convinced the Eastland court of appeals to accept their argument, the Supreme Court saw things differently. The unanimous opinion by Justice Boyd rejected the loophole that the court of appeals had sought to add to Chapter 95. Beck Redden partner David Gunn presented oral argument for Endeavor in the Supreme Court. He told the court in oral argument that the court of appeals erred in treated negligent hiring claims as intrinsically outside the statute: "We are not saying all negligent hiring claims are categorically within Chapter 95; we're just saying, the court of appeals was wrong to say the opposite". He was assisted by Beck Redden appellate attorney Erin Huber, and they collaborated on the case with Dallas attorneys Aaron Burke, Timothy George, and Nathan Winkler of Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLP.