Friday, February 09, 2007

Get Off My Floating Homestead: In Norris v. Thomas, the Texas Supreme Court was asked by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether a boat (with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and galley) qualifies for the homestead exemption under the Texas Constitution. Justice Willett wrote the Court's majority opinion (joined by Chief Justice Jefferson, Justice Hecht, Justice Green, and Justice Johnson) and held that the 68 foot yacht in question did not constitute a homestead. Justice O'Neill dissented (joined by Justice Wainwright, Justice Brister, and Justice Medina) because of the difficulty distinguishing between a mobile home hooked up to land-based electricity and water, and a boat hooked up to land-based electricity and water, when it is the attachment itself that makes the dwelling habitable as a residence.

The City Took My Driveway: In City of San Antonio v. TPLP Office Park Properties, the Texas Supreme Court issued this per curiam opinion addressing questions resulting from the City of San Antonio's decision to block access from a private business driveway to a city street. The Court held that the "City's decision and actions to close access between the private driveway and the street constituted a proper exercise of the City's police power, the City is not estopped from closing the access, and closing the access would not constitute a compensable taking."

Jack Fell In the Box: In Jack in the Box Inc. v. Skiles, the Texas Supreme Court issued this per curiam opinion regarding whether an employer owed its truck driver a duty to warn of a danger. The truck driver, Skiles, was injured when he used a ladder to enter his truck because the lift did not work. Because dangers associated with the use of a ladder to climb over a lift gate are common and obvious, the Court held that Jack in the Box had no duty to warn Skiles about the dangers of using a ladder.

Late Interpleader: In State Farm Life Insurance Co. v. Martinez, the Texas Supreme Court issued this unanimous opinion authored by Justice Brister holding that (1) statutory penalties are proper for the delay before an interpleader is filed, but not for the time after the filing, and (2) prejudgment interest on proceeds in the court registry are barred as a double recovery.

Do Not Forward: In Wachovia Bank of Delaware v. Gilliam, the Texas Supreme Court issued this per curiam opinion addressing whether the record showed that substituted service papers were forwarded to the defendants "home office" or "principal office." The Court found no evidence that the papers were forwarded.