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Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C. is pleased to provide you with our Winter 2019 Newsletter and Legal Update. Below you will find information regarding successes and activities of our attorneys.

Please click the hyperlinks for updates regarding Local GovernmentConstitutional and Civil Rights LawProducts LiabilitySchool LawEmployment LawMotor Vehicle LiabilityPremises Liability, and Land Use, Zoning, and Regulatory Taking.



THOMAS P. BRANDTSTEPHEN D. HENNINGER and LAURA O’LEARY obtained an appellate victory for a North Texas School District. Plaintiff had sued the School District under Title IX, alleging that the District had discriminated against her by not properly responding to her complaints of bullying and harassment by fellow students after she was allegedly sexually assaulted at an off-campus, non-school affiliated party. Plaintiff also alleged that the School District retaliated against her for complaining of bullying and harassment. The District Court dismissed Plaintiff’s Title IX discrimination claim on summary judgment, but allowed the retaliation claim to go to trial. After trial, a jury unanimously found that the District had not retaliated against Plaintiff for complaining of bullying and harassment. Plaintiff then appealed the District Court’s dismissal of her Title IX discrimination claim on summary judgment. On appeal, after briefing by the parties and hearing oral argument, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the Title IX discrimination claim was properly dismissed on summary judgment, and affirmed that decision.


MARC FANNING and JENNIFER KELLEY obtained an appellate victory at the Dallas Court of Appeals in a slip and fall case involving naturally accumulated ice. The appellate court upheld a summary judgment in favor of our clients (a mall and its maintenance company) on the ground that our clients did not contribute to causing the accident.





THOMAS P. BRANDT, JOHN F. ROEHM, III, and STEPHEN D. HENNINGER achieved a dismissal of a lawsuit against a central Texas county and one of its jail nurses. Plaintiffs sued the County Defendants, along with the former Medical Director and Director of Nursing at the County Jail, in Federal court for the death of their mother at the County Jail. Plaintiff sued the County jail nurse for denial of medical care to their mother under the Fourteenth Amendment and sued the County under Monell for an unconstitutional policy, practice, or custom and for unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the County Jail. The County Defendants filed motions for summary judgment and Plaintiffs filed cross motions for summary judgment. The District Judge granted the County Defendants motions and dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice and denied Plaintiffs’ motions.

FRANK VALENZUELA and JOHN D. HUSTED prevailed on an opposed transfer of False Claims Act lawsuit from federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, to federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah.


THOMAS P. BRANDT, JOHN D. HUSTED,and CAROLINE SILEO successfully defended a west Texas county and its Sheriff’s Department from claims brought by a former jail inmate. The inmate originally brought federal and Texas state law claims based on the allegation that County jailers failed to provide him with adequate medical care, resulting in the inmate suffering significant injuries. After the federal district court found that Plaintiff no longer alleged viable federal claims, the case was remanded to state court. FHMBK then filed and successfully argued a plea to the jurisdiction on the County’s behalf, and the court dismissed all causes of action.




FRANK VALENZUELA prevailed on an administrative Texas Payday Law Decision for a North Texas employer. In this administrative proceeding before the Texas Workforce Commission Wage Claim Appeal Tribunal, a former employee claimed that he was owed back wages for a period of three years. After an administrative hearing at which evidence was taken, the hearing officer ruled in the employer’s favor, affirming the previous administrative decision.



On January 15, 2019, THOMAS P. BRANDT and FRANK VALENZUELA participated in an oral argument before the Fort Worth Court of Appeals seeking a reversal of a trial court’s denial of a plea to the jurisdiction. The case presents an issue of first impression for the Fort Worth Court of Appeals about the interplay of the Texas Education Code’s Chapter 21 hearing process and the administrative remedy initiation requirement of the Texas Whistleblower Act. A decision is expected sometime in 2019.


Pictured: Jennifer Kelley, head of FHMBK’s Insurance Coverage Group

For a fifth 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 2019. This designation is a tremendous honor reserved for a very select few law firms and we are once again extremely pleased by this recognition in the field of insurance law.d



LINDSEY HARDY was voted into the Network of Empowered Women (NEW) Roundtable where members seek to collectively empower, impact, and influence the legal profession through professional development, partnerships and service.




JENNIFER KELLEY and KATHRYN VAUGHAN presented to a group of insurance adjusters on January 18, 2019 in Austin, Texas. Jennifer and Kathryn presented “The Best Practices With Regard to Reservation of Rights.”

JENNIFER KELLEY presented to a group of insurance adjusters on February 15, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. Jennifer presented “The Best Practices With Regard to Reservation of Rights.”


For FHMBK’s January 2019 Texas Insurance Law Update, please click here.


LAURA O’LEARY will be joining S. Anthony Safi, of Mounce, Green, Myers, Safi, Paxson & Galatzan, P.C., in El Paso, Texas in presenting at the University of Texas School Law Conference in Austin on February 28, 2019. Mr. Safi and Ms. O’Leary will be speaking on “The Crossroads: Section 504, the ADA, and Chapter 21.” The presentation will provide a comparison of the causes of action for employment discrimination based on disability under Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code, plus a brief look at recent developments in Section 504 student litigation.

In March, THOMAS P. BRANDT and LAURA O’LEARY will give a talk entitled “The State of Transgender Litigation” to the Government Law Section of the Dallas Bar Association. The talk will discuss the current status of transgender litigation as it affects governmental entities, with an emphasis on claims under Title VII and Title IX.

FRANK VALENZUELA will be a panelist at the Hispanic Bar Association Corporate Counsel Conference on March 21, 2019, to discuss political and ethical issues in representing governmental clients on a local and national scale.

On April 2, 2019, GEORGE L. LANKFORD will present oral arguments before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, supporting a summary judgment obtained for an insurance company that held an exemplary damage award in the underlying case was not covered by the applicable liability insurance policy. In other words, the exemplary damages: 1) were not the result of accidental conduct as required to trigger coverage, 2) are uninsurable as a matter for Texas public policy, and also 3) were not the result of an “insured’s” conduct so as to trigger coverage.

FRANK VALENZUELA is scheduled to speak at the Hispanic Issues Section meeting at the State Bar of Texas Conference on June 13, 2019, about transgender litigation issues.

FRANK VALENZUELA will be speaking at the State Bar of Texas’ Advanced Government Law seminar on the topic of Individual Immunity in July, 2019.