The Texas Supreme Court has once again overturned a jury verdict and a successful appeal by a plaintiff. In Whirlpool, Inc. v. Camacho, Texas’ highest civil court found deficient the testimony of an expert who testified that a fire was caused by a faulty dryer. The fire took the life of teenage Joab Camacho and consumed the Camacho mobile home.
In the Court’s decision, it explained in great detail how the dryer works and how the heat is vented, even providing a cross-section of a dryer vent. The Court faults the Plaintiff’s expert for not conducting different tests that might help explain the cause of the fire. It is never a good sign when an appellate decision parses evidence so carefully. The court comes very close to weighing the evidence. Weighing evidence, of course, should the province of the jury, not a group of judges.
The high court unfortunately gives very little weight to the jury findings. There is supposed to be a presumption in favor of jury findings. Any expert goes through tremendous scrutiny both at trial and at the intermediate appellate court. The Supreme Court disregards all that scrutiny in overturning this decision.
Former Mayor Phil Hardberger wrote a nice law review article on the corporate friendly Texas Supreme Court eleven years ago. He was still an appellate judge at the time. This recent Texas Supreme Court decision continues that unfortunate trend supporting big business at the expense of families and individuals.