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Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C. is pleased to provide you with our Spring 2013 Newsletter and Legal Update.  Below you will find information regarding successes and activities of our attorneys.

Please click the hyperlinks for updates regarding Constitutional/Civil Rights, Local Government, Products Liability, Employment Law, School Law, Commercial Trucking Litigation, Premises Liability, Land Use, Zoning, and Regulatory Taking and Insurance Law.  Please call us with your questions or comments.


Another FHMBK victory is being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In our last newsletter, we reported our victory on behalf of a college professor who was sued for allegedly violating a student’s Due Process rights.  The case arose out of a grade dispute.  The Fifth Circuit agreed with our arguments and reversed the district court’s decision which had denied the professor’s motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity.  Recently, the attorney for the student filed a petition for writ of certiorari before the United States Supreme Court. We are hopeful that the Court will deny the writ and confirm our victory.



THOMAS P. BRANDT, FRANK VALENZUELA, and LAURA O’LEARY successfully defended a private substance abuse treatment center from the claims of thirty-four former clients alleging constitutional violations, invasion of privacy, and negligence. FHMBK previously obtained the dismissal of nineteen of the former clients and then moved for summary judgment on all claims for the remaining fifteen plaintiffs.  The judge granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in its entirety.

THOMAS P. BRANDT, FRANK VALENZUELA, and LAURA O’LEARY successfully defended a local school district in an employment case by a former employee alleging age, disability, and national origin discrimination.  FHMBK moved for summary judgment on all claims.  The state court granted Defendant’s Traditional and No-Evidence Motions for Summary Judgment and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims.

FRANK VALENZUELA and LAURA O’LEARY successfully defended a construction company in an
employment case brought by a former employee alleging age and disability discrimination and retaliation. FHMBK moved for summary judgment on all claims.  The federal court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims.

THOMAS P. BRANDT and JOHN F. ROEHM III successfully represented a North Texas school official in a suit filed by a parent on behalf of her children.  The parent alleged that the school official violated her children’s privacy.

MARC FANNING recently won five Summary Judgments for a regional grocery store client on premises liability cases involving slip and falls; disposing of the cases in a quick and cost effective manner for the client.

THOMAS P. BRANDT and JOHN HUSTED successfully defended an east Texas County and its former sheriff and deputy in a federal lawsuit brought by a convicted felon alleging that his Fourth, Fourteenth, and Second Amendment rights were violated.  The Plaintiff’s claims stem from a search of his residence by County officers, which led to his arrest and the confiscation of a cache of firearms and  ammunition that he illegally possessed.  After FHMBK filed a motion to dismiss, the Plaintiff agreed to enter a stipulation of dismissal forfeiting his claims, and the Court dismissed all of his claims with prejudice.

RON IHLE obtained a summary judgment in a toxic tort case.  The plaintiffs alleged the decedent was exposed to asbestos insulation and developed mesothelioma as a result of that exposure.  Ron successfully showed that his client was not responsible for the plaintiffs’ damages and his client was dismissed.

THOMAS P. BRANDT, JOSHUA SKINNER, and LAURA O’LEARY are currently representing a school district in a case before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals  involving allegations of disability discrimination.  FHMBK won summary judgment for the school district on all claims before the district court.  The United States Department of Justice recently filed an Amicus Brief in this matter.


  • JOHN F. ROEHM III served as a judge at the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Competition at SMU  Law School on February 22, 2013 and served as a judge at the Jackson Walker Moot Court Competition at SMU Law School on April 10, 2013.
  • JOSH SKINNER and FRANK VALENZUELA presented a  continuing legal education live webcast on April 2, 2013 at the invitation of the State Bar of Texas on the topic of “Lawsuits against the Government.”


  • FHMBK is pleased to announce that firm members Joshua A. Skinner and Francisco J. Valenzuela have again earned recognition as two of the state’s top young lawyers with selections to the 2013 Texas Rising Stars list.  This is the fourth consecutive selection to the exclusive annual listing for both attorneys.  For more details, please click here.
  • FHMBK is pleased to announce the return of civil litigator Stephen D. Henninger as a member of the firm’s Local Government Defense Law practice.  Steve previously worked as a member of the firm from 1999 to 2007.  To read the recent media release regarding his return, click here.

This newsletter is established for informational purposes only. Nothing in this newsletter should be construed as individual advice, and the use of the e-mail link for communications with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.