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Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C. is pleased to provide you with our Summer 2017 Newsletter and Legal Update. Below you will find information regarding successes and activities of our attorneys.

Please click the hyperlinks for updates regarding Local Government, Constitutional and Civil Rights Law, Products Liability, School Law, Employment Law, Premises Liability, Land Use, Zoning, and Regulatory Taking, Insurance Law, and Special Education.


Three landmark victories (described below) for FHMBK clients in the first half of 2017 garnered significant attention: the Irving “Clock Boy” case; the Dallas “Exxxotica” case; and a Title IX sexual assault case. Time and again, our attorneys’ reliable efforts have provided positive results for our clients. But don’t just ask us: mainstream and legal media have noticed, too. For three straight years, U.S. News and World Report has recognized us as a top-tier firm. Our attorneys are consistently recognized among their Texas peers as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. Texas Lawyer recently noted that FHMBK’s attorneys shine when the allegations against our clients are steepest. We don’t seek the spotlight, but we don’t shrink from it either. This underscores why clients continue to turn to FHMBK. Because of this, we hope that you will allow us the privilege of working for your success.

Pictured above (l-r), Thomas P. Brandt, Steve Henninger, Frank Valenzuela, Laura O’Leary


THOMAS P. BRANDT, LAURA O’LEARY, and STEPHEN D. HENNINGER earned a significant, high-profile victory in a Section 1983 suit against the City of Irving. Plaintiff was a student at a high school who brought a homemade clock to class that looked suspicious. Several teachers became concerned that it could be dangerous and called local police. When the Plaintiff failed to adequately explain why he had brought the device to school, he was arrested on a hoax bomb charge and briefly detained at police headquarters. The charges were ultimately dropped. Plaintiff then sued the City, asserting that his right to be free from unlawful arrest had been violated. The City filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff had failed to plead any viable claims. The Court granted the motion, dismissed all of Plaintiff’s claims, and ordered Plaintiff to re-plead to state an actionable lawsuit.


THOMAS P. BRANDT, FRANK VALENZUELA, and LAURA O’LEARY won a significant and hard fought victory for a large North Texas city in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. Many expected the City to lose. The plaintiff, a promoter of a sex-themed exposition, filed suit when the city passed a resolution prohibiting the city manager from entering into a contract with the plaintiff for the use of its convention center. After discovery was completed, and based on important information obtained and confirmed during discovery, we filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the plaintiff lacked standing to assert its First Amendment, Equal Protection, and Bill of Attainder claims. The judge agreed and dismissed the case.


THOMAS P. BRANDT and STEPHEN D. HENNINGER obtained a favorable jury verdict in a trial of a Title IX case against Lewisville Independent School District. Charla Aldous, a Dallas attorney whose firm frequently takes on high-profile plaintiff’s cases, represented the Plaintiff. Plaintiff was a former student who alleged she was sexually assaulted by classmates while attending an off-campus, non-school sponsored party. After the alleged assault, Plaintiff claimed she reported the incident to the school district. She also complained that she was being bullied and harassed by students because of what happened at the party. Plaintiff’s suit claimed that the school district discriminated against her in violation of Title IX by failing to properly respond to her complaints of harassment, and also alleged that the school district retaliated against her because she made the complaints. The Court granted our Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to the Plaintiff’s Title IX discrimination claim but denied our motion with respect to the Plaintiff’s Title IX retaliation claim. The Title IX retaliation claim was tried before a jury, which returned a unanimous verdict that the school district did not retaliate against the Plaintiff. Texas Lawyer noted that, over time, Brandt “has developed a reputation for being at his best when the allegations against his clients are the worse.”

For the previous media release containing additional details on this significant victory, click here.


THOMAS P. BRANDT and JOHN D. HUSTED obtained a significant appellate victory on behalf of a north Texas school district. A former student brought a Title IX lawsuit against the school district, alleging that the district failed to protect him from student-on-student gender-based harassment. FHMBK previously obtained summary judgment on behalf of the school district, and the student appealed. On appeal, FHMBK successfully argued, in briefing and at oral argument, that the District Court did not err in its determination that the school district was not deliberately indifferent to known student-on-student sexual harassment. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision.

THOMAS P. BRANDT and JOHN D. HUSTED successfully defended a north Texas city before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in an excessive force lawsuit brought by an individual who was shot by one of the city’s officers. FHMBK previously obtained summary judgment on behalf of the city, successfully arguing that the plaintiff could not show that the city’s officer shot the plaintiff pursuant to a policy, custom, or practice of the city. On appeal, FHMBK moved to dismiss the appeal of the claims against the city, and the Court granted the motion.

THOMAS P. BRANDT, JOHN F. ROEHM III and JOSHUA A. SKINNER obtained a victory on appeal for a local school district in a case involving multiple allegations of discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation. Three teachers sued the school district for First Amendment retaliation and Title VII violations, including retaliation. FHMBK previously obtained summary judgment and dismissal of all the claims of two of the teachers and all but one claim of the third teacher in the District Court. The teachers appealed. On appeal, FHMBK argued that the teachers failed to exhaust their administrative remedies, two of the teachers were not constructively discharged, no policy, custom or practice of the school district resulted in any constitutional violation to the teachers, and the teachers did not establish a prima facie case of discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision.


STEPHEN D. HENNINGER obtained a victory at the 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler, Texas. The Plaintiff had sued a County and former detention officer, alleging she had been sexually harassed by the detention officer while incarcerated in the County Jail. The trial court granted motions to dismiss that had been filed on behalf of the County and its former employee, and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice. Plaintiff then appealed to the 12th Court of Appeals. After reviewing the briefs of the parties, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the case.


Pictured above (l-r), Marc Fanning, George Lankford, and Lindsey Hardy


MARC FANNING, GEORGE LANKFORD and LINDSEY HARDY obtained a victory in a high exposure bodily injury case. Plaintiff was riding a bicycle when she was run over by a tractor trailer. Plaintiff’s injuries included traumatic, incapacitating brain injuries. They obtained a summary judgment that our client’s construction related work on the side of the highway did not contribute to causing the accident.



THOMAS P. BRANDT and JOHN D. HUSTED successfully defended a North Texas city and several of its police officers in a lawsuit alleging numerous causes of action, arising from the plaintiff’s arrest by the city’s officers after the plaintiff was involved in a domestic incident. FHMBK obtained an immediate dismissal of all claims against the individual officers pursuant to Section 101.106(e) of the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code. FHMBK also successfully argued numerous special exceptions regarding various deficiencies with the plaintiff’s claims and pleadings. When the plaintiff failed to adequately remedy the various deficiencies identified by the sustained special exceptions, FHMBK successfully argued for dismissal of all remaining claims against the city.


On June 6, 2017, THOMAS P. BRANDT orally argued a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. Thomas P. Brandt and John F. Roehm III successfully defended a local City and its police officers in a case involving the execution of a search warrant and the shooting of a home owner. The home owner brought suit against multiple police officers and the City. The home owner asserted only state law claims against the Defendants and when those claims were dismissed against the officers, the home owner amended his complaint and asserted federal constitutional claims against the dismissed officers and the City for false arrest, unreasonable search/seizure, excessive force, and failure to train/supervise. The case was removed to federal court. Defendants filed motions to dismiss which were granted by the district court. This case should clarify issues regarding the relation back doctrine and dismissals under Section 101.106 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code.


Pictured above, Directors Marc Fanning and Thomas P. Brandt



For a third consecutive year, U.S. News and World Report recognized FHMBK as a “Tier One” law firm in the area of insurance law in North Texas for 2017. This designation is a tremendous honor reserved for a very select few law firms. We are extremely pleased by this recognition in the field of insurance law.





FHMBK is proud to announce that FRANCISCO J. VALENZUELA, Member, JOSHUA A. SKINNER, Of Counsel, and JOHN D. HUSTED, Member, have been selected to the 2017 Texas Rising Stars list. This is the eighth consecutive year Mr. Skinner and Mr. Valenzuela have been honored among the state’s top young lawyers. This is Mr. Husted’s second time being named to this list.



Pictured above, Frank Valenzuela

Congratulations to FRANK VALENZUELA for completing the Reebok Spartan Super race in Burnet, Texas on May 20, 2017. This is Frank’s first race of the year and one of three he plans to run to complete a Spartan Trifecta this year. The Super consisted of an 8+ mile track with 28 obstacles.

GEORGE LANKFORD recently received the Northern Trail District’s Robert E. Little Service Award. This award is given out through Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America for outstanding service to the scouting movement at the unit and/or district level. It is given primarily for dedicated service, personal effort, and unselfish interest contributed beyond the immediate responsibilities of the position or positions held over a period of years. Northern Trail District is a part of Circle 10 Council in North Texas. Its members include about 5,000 scouts, plus adult scouters.

Last summer GEORGE LANKFORD served as Course Director for the highest level of youth leadership training in the Boy Scouts of America. This national course is known as National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE) and it is offered in the outback of Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico for two weeks. The course included 51 youth participants from all across the country, and 21 staff.



THOMAS P. BRANDT and FRANK VALENZUELA will both be presenting at this year’s State Bar of Texas’ Advanced Government Law Course being held in Austin, Texas. Mr. Brandt will be speaking on Thursday July 27, 2017 on the topic of Individual Immunity. Mr. Valenzuela will be speaking about the Texas Whistleblower Act on Friday, July 28, 2017.