In its coalition brief, the U.S. Chamber asked the Texas Supreme Court to review the court of appeals’ decision in order to clarify Texas law on the scope of a former property owner’s common law duties. The brief argues that the decision of the court of appeals affirming that Texas common law currently permits property owners to be held liable for negligence in the design and construction of improvements to the realty long after it has been sold to new owners. Imposing an ongoing duty of care on a former owner, who no longer has any right or ability to control, improve, or eliminate an allegedly dangerous condition on the property, makes no policy sense. The brief points out that it is contrary to the majority rule, embodied in § 352 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, that the seller of real property is not liable for physical harm caused to the buyer or to others by any dangerous condition that existed at the time the buyer took possession of the property.
The Chamber filed the brief jointly with the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
Richard A. Smith and Christopher Patton of Lynn Tillotson Pinker Cox LLP represented the U.S. Chamber as co-counsel to the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.