Texas Supreme Court Updates on Sham Affidavit Doctrine, Collateral Source and One Satisfaction Rules

The Supreme Court of Texas has been busy this year. In opinions issued earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Texas adopted the sham affidavit doctrine which was discussed in the October 31, 2017 blog post and made an important ruling clarifying the one satisfaction and collateral source rules discussed in the August 31, 2015 blog post. First the sham affidavit case.

In Lujan v. Navistar, Inc., ___ S.W.3d___, 2018 Tex. LEXIS 347 (Tex. April 27, 2018), the Supreme of Texas agreed with and adopted the majority view that a trial court’s authority to distinguish between genuine and non-genuine fact issues includes the authority to apply the sham affidavit doctrine under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 166a (i.e. summary judgment rule) when the court is confronted with evidence that appears to be a sham designed to avoid summary judgment. In adopting the sham affidavit rule, the Supreme Court of Texas set out the elements of when the sham affidavit rule can apply as follows: When: (1) the affidavit is executed after the deposition; and (2) there is a clear contradiction; on (3) a material point;  and (4) without explanation. Further, the court held that a trial court does not abuse its discretion by concluding that no genuine issue of fact exists under such circumstances, but did state that it is a case-specific inquiry not easily amenable to a rote application of the multi-part test. The examination of the nature and extent of the differences between the prior testimony and affidavit testimony asserted must be done to determine what effect the conflict should be given on a particular case. Whether you are prosecuting or defending a summary judgment after depositions, you should read Lujan in its entirety.

In Sky View at Las Palmas v. Mendez, ___S.W.3d ___. 2018 Tex. LEXIS 515 (Tex. June 1, 2018) , the Supreme Court held that the one-satisfaction and collateral source rules allow for credit for settlements paid by the defendant’s insurer.  This opinion goes into great detail about the burden of proof each party has under the one satisfaction rule framework and how each party can meet that burden. This case also discusses the collateral source rule that generally bars a wrongdoer from offsetting his liability with insurance proceeds independently procured by the injured party. As a result, if payment falls within the collateral source rule, its prohibition of more than one recovery for the same loss is not applicable. Here, The plaintiff tried to rely on the collateral source rule but the Supreme Court held that would have led to a double recovery because the defendant procured the insurance to protect the injured party and therefore, the collateral source rule was not applicable. Sky View, like Lujan above, is a must read on these issues.

The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any comments, suggestions or replies are welcome at john@jrjoneslaw.com.

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