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Motions for Rehearing in BP America v. Marshall Blasts Supreme Court

Counsel for the plaintiffs in BP v. Marshall filed unusual motions for rehearing after the Texas Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the courts below awarding substantial damages for fraud. See my discussion of the Supreme Court’s decision here. The Marshalls’ attorneys’ motion for rehearing accuses the court of engaging in “de novo review of a jury finding,” exceeding the court’s constitutional authority, violating the Marshalls’ constitutional right to a jury trial, ignoring uncontradicted expert testimony, and ignoring its own prior precedent. The motion calls the court’s reasoning “disingenuous.” The Vaquillas attorneys’ motion for rehearing says that “the decisional process has gone awry,” and the court “has not decided, or even recognized, the main issue in the Vaquillas-Wagner case.” From the Vaquillas motion for rehearing:

“The Opinion resolves the BP-Marshall dispute on a legal insufficiency point, but the Opinion never uses the phrase ‘standard of review,’ never alludes to the standard of review, and never undertakes to apply one.”

“Perhaps the Court has in mind an explanation — maybe even a devastating explanation — for making the evidence that supports the verdict all vanish. Very well, then, but the Opinion ought to opine on these things, rather than leaving the world wondering.”

“Again, any fair observer will acknowledge the Court’s heavy workload, with many administravie duties and 900 cases a year clamoring for review. The torrent of cases means that not every Justice can read every record. A system of triage is inevitable. Still, when an Opinion can miss the main issue in one half of the case, forget the standard of review in the other, and speak of an ‘adverse possession cause of action’ — while still going out the door unanimously — something would seem to be wrong.”

“The Opinion analyzes the accrual issue in terms of ‘Wagner’s adverse possession cause of action.’ But Wagner has no ‘adverse possession cause of action.’ Nobody does. Adverse possesssion is not a cause of action, and this Court has never before uttered the phrase ‘adverse possession cause of action.'”

“These issues need attention. For one thing, the Court has built a reputation as a leading American tribunal, perhaps the leading American tribunal, for oil and gas cases. Mistakes that might matter little if made by the Supreme Court of Vermont may have more far-reaching effects if made by the Supreme Court of Texas. Further, the Court faults the Marshalls for not acting as a ‘sophisticated lessor’ should. Under those circumstances, it is in the Court’s interest to ensure that its Opinion displays the kind of precision that has historically characterized the Court’s oil and gas cases.”

“The Court should vacate its decision and start over.”

Not your usual motions for rehearing.


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