blank'/> Liberally Lean From The Land Of Dairy Queen: Breaking: This Morning The Texas Supreme Court Reverses Huge Wise County Jury Award

3.12.2010

Breaking: This Morning The Texas Supreme Court Reverses Huge Wise County Jury Award

It was originally a $23 million dollar verdict arising out of a multi-death traffic accident in Paradise. The Texas Supreme Court reversed the verdict and is sending the case back for a new trial because evidence that the other driver was an illegal immigrant should not have been heard by the jury:

  The record indicates that Hughes sought to hedge his theory by calling attention to Rodriguez’s illegal immigration status whenever he could. Such appeals to racial and ethnic prejudices, whether “explicit and brazen” or “veiled and subtle,” cannot be tolerated because they undermine the very basis of our judicial process. Tex. Employers’ Ins. Ass’n v. Guerrero, 800 S.W.2d 859, 864 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1990, writ denied); see also Moss v. Sanger, 12 S.W. 619, 620 (Tex. 1889) (“Cases ought to be tried in a court of justice upon the facts proved; and whether a party be Jew or gentile, white or black, is a matter of indifference.”); Penate v. Berry, 348 S.W.2d 167, 168-69 (Tex. Civ. App.—El Paso 1961, writ ref’d n.r.e.) (reversing judgment against illegal alien in vehicle collision case because of “numerous remarks” about alien status). We conclude that the trial court erred by admitting evidence impugning Rodriguez’s character on the basis of his immigration status. Such error was harmful, not only because its prejudice far outweighed any probative value, but also because it fostered the impression that Rodriguez’s employer should be held liable because it hired an illegal immigrant.

 Court's opinion.

The lawsuit was the subject of a huge article in the Dallas Morning News. Coverage of the case by the Austin American Statesman as it was argued before the court is here. 


Edit: In response, the local Plaintiffs' lawyers have issued a press release.