Appeals Court Reverses $300k Summary Judgment, Renders Judgment for Defense
Oct 14, 2022
The Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso reversed a $300,000 summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiff Ranchos and rendered judgment for our client Cemex. Austin partners Bill Mennucci and Elizabeth Brabb represented CEMEX S.A.B. de C.V., known as Cemex, a Mexican multinational building materials company headquartered in San Pedro, near Monterrey, Mexico. Cemex manufactures and distributes cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates in more than 50 countries.
Ranchos and Cemex were both defendants in multi-death wrongful death suit arising out of a vehicle accident on the outskirts of El Paso. After a jury trial, Ranchos sued Cemex for indemnity, to recover its own attorney’s fees and litigation costs incurred in defending the wrongful death suit. Ranchos claimed a right to indemnity under both a lease agreement and an easement agreement between Ranchos and Cemex. After each party filed motions for summary judgment, the trial court denied Cemex’s motion and granted Ranchos’ motion, awarding Ranchos nearly $300,000 in attorney’s fees and litigation expenses.
The court of appeals determined that Ranchos’ indemnity claims under the lease were barred by collateral estoppel, and even if they had not been so barred, the indemnity provision in the lease did not satisfy the express negligence doctrine. The court of appeals further determined that the summary judgment evidence showed as a matter of law that the easement agreement (and the indemnity obligations arising under it) did not apply to the area where the accident occurred.