Texas Supreme Court Will Hear Oral Argument On Whether Texas Recognizes A Claim For Tortious Interference With Inheritance Rights

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On October 11, 2017, the Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Anderson v. Archer, No. 03-13-00790-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 2165 (Tex. App.—Austin March 2, 2016, pet. filed). In Anderson, the trial court’s judgment awarded the plaintiffs $2.5 million in damages based on a tortious interference with inheritance claim. Id. The defendants appealed and argued that Texas law does not recognize such a claim. The court of appeals agreed with the appellants and stated:

In short, we agree with the Amarillo Court of Appeals that “neither this Court, the courts in Valdez, Clark, and Russell, nor the trial court below can legitimately recognize, in the first instance, a cause of action for tortiously interfering with one’s inheritance.” We also agree with the Amarillo court’s assessment that neither the Legislature nor Texas Supreme Court has done so, or at least not yet. Absent legislative or supreme court recognition of the existence of a cause of action, we, as an intermediate appellate court, will not be the first to do so.

Id.  The court also rejected an argument that a tortious interference with inheritance claim is merely a subset of the tort of tortious interference with a contract or prospective contractual or business relationship. The court reversed the award for the plaintiff.

The Plaintiff then filed a petition for review to the Texas Supreme Court, and after full briefing, the Court will now hear oral arguments. The Texas Supreme Court’s staff states as follows: “The principal issue is whether Texas should recognize tortious interference with inheritance rights.”

This is a very important fiduciary case as there is currently a split in the courts of appeals on whether a tortious interference with inheritance rights claim exists in Texas. The Texas Supreme Court recently refused to rule on whether such a claim exists in Jackson Walker, LLPO v. Kinsel, No. 15-0403, 2017 Tex. LEXIS 477 (Tex. May 26, 2017). The Court held that another remedy was adequate in Jackson Walker so that the Court did not have to address whether a tortious interference with inheritance rights claim was in fact recognized in Texas. Id.

The public can watch the oral argument via a webcast. Instructions for watching the oral argument are posted on the Court’s website:  http://www.txcourts.gov/supreme/oral-arguments/

 



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