Articles Posted in Civil Litigation

It is not uncommon for business owners to ask their employees to enter into non-compete or non-disclosure agreements. If a former employee subsequently starts a competing business in violation of an agreement, the business owner can take legal action against the employee to recover damages. In many cases, however, the employee may be protected from enforcement of the agreement under the Texas Citizen’s Participation Act (TCPA) which is an anti-SLAPP law.

In a recent case in which an automatic stay had been issued pursuant to an interlocutory appeal following a denial of a motion to dismiss pursuant to TCPA, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that  a trial court lift the automatic stay to conduct proceedings.  If you are a business owner or an employee subject to a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement you should meet with a skilled Texas civil litigation attorney to discuss your options for seeking recourse for any alleged violation of the agreement.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a scrap metal recycling company, filed a lawsuit against defendant, another scrap metal recycling company started by some of plaintiff’s former employees, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, and other related claims. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss under the TCPA. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, after which the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal. Pursuant to Texas statutory law, the appeal triggered a stay of all proceedings in the case.

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It is common knowledge that when a person causes harm, he or she may be held liable for any damages sustained by the injured party. There are certain exceptions to this rule, however, such as when the person that causes the harm is employed by the government. In such cases, the Tort Claims Act may preclude liability against the person as an individual. The implications of the Tort Claims Act was recently analyzed by the Supreme Court of Texas, in a case in which an individual was killed by an off duty police officer. If you suffered harm due to the negligent acts of a government employee, you should consult a knowledgeable Texas personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking damages.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, who was employed as an officer with a Texas police department, worked as a courtesy patrol officer at an apartment complex. Upon arrival at the apartment complex one evening, he noticed an individual in a car allegedly engaged in a crime. The defendant approached the car and identified himself as a police officer and asked the individual to step out of the car. The individual ignored the defendant and started to drive away. The defendant drew his weapon and fired shots at the vehicle. One of the shots hit the individual, who ultimately died from his injuries.

It is alleged that the individual’s estate sued the defendant in state court, alleging he was an employee of the apartment complex, and in federal court, alleging he was acting under color of state law and accordance with his police training. Following discovery in the state case, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on the election of remedies provision of the Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appealed.
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When she died alone in her hotel room after her father’s birthday party, Autumn Rupkey’s blood alcohol level was nearly 0.5—more than five times the legal limit in Texas.

Alcoholic drink
“I have never seen a case with a blood alcohol level this high,” said plaintiffs lawyer Quentin Brogdon, who’s handled civil dram shop cases for 30 years and prosecuted drunken-driving cases for two years. “It’s amazing she was even walking around at the end.”

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The Justice Department today announced that PRG Real Estate Management and several related entities have agreed to pay up to $1,590,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by obtaining unlawful court judgments against military tenants and by charging improper lease termination fees. This settlement is the largest ever obtained by the Department against a landlord or property management company for violations of the SCRA.

Under the settlement, PRG will pay up to $1,490,000 million to compensate 127 servicemembers who had 152 unlawful default judgments entered against them and $34,920.39 to compensate 10 servicemembers who were charged early lease termination fees in violation of the SCRA. PRG will also pay a civil penalty of $62,029 to the United States. The settlement also requires PRG to repair the credit of affected servicemembers, provide SCRA training to its employees and develop new policies and procedures consistent with the SCRA.

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