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Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C. is pleased to provide you with our Winter 2012 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, Zoning, Land Use and Taking, and Insurance Law.  Please call us with your questions or comments.




DON MARTINSON and THOMAS BRANDT were recently named “Impact Players” of 2011 by Texas Lawyer.  Martinson and Brandt were recognized by Texas Lawyer newspaper for their work in achieving favorable rulings in two of the state’s most closely watched appellate cases in 2011. 

Mr. Brandt was named to this list for his part in obtaining a significant victory before the entire assembled United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the famous “Candy Cane” case. 

Mr. Martinson was recognized for his part in successfully arguing in the matter of In Re Universal Underwriters of Texas Insurance Company before the Texas Supreme Court and obtaining a significant victory not only for his client but for the entire insurance industry in Texas. 

To read the firm’s news release on these “game-changing” victories, click here.  To view the article in the December 19 issue of Texas Lawyer, click here.


THOMAS BRANDT and JOHN F. ROEHM III successfully represented a North Texas Police Department sued in federal court for federal constitutional violations.  A motion to dismiss was filed on behalf of the Police Department.  The Magistrate Judge has recommended that the motion be granted and the case be dismissed.

THOMAS BRANDT, FRANCISCO J. VALENZUELA, and LAURA O’LEARY successfully represented a major North Texas school district in a case involving allegations of whistleblower retaliation, national origin employment discrimination, and employment retaliation.  After a hearing on the District’s motion for summary judgment, an associate judge entered summary judgment in favor of the school district.  An appeal is pending before the District Court.

FRANCISCO J. VALENZUELA successfully obtained the dismissal with prejudice of the claims of 17 plaintiffs in a case about federal privacy rights, negligence, and negligence per se.  The dismissal of the 17 plaintiffs was premised on the plaintiffs’ failure to prosecute their claims and respond to discovery, as well as their failure to comply with court orders.

GERALD LOTZER and DEAN FOSTER obtained a summary judgment on behalf of a window blind distributor with regard to product liability, breach of warranty, and negligence claims that were asserted on behalf of a minor plaintiff.  The minor plaintiff was alleged to have severed a portion of her finger when she wrapped the cord around her finger. 

THOMAS BRANDT and JOHN D. HUSTED successfully represented a North Texas sheriff and various officers sued in federal court for alleged civil rights violations and a series of state law claims, including false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, and malicious prosecution.    A motion to dismiss was filed on behalf of the officers.  The court granted the motion and dismissed all claims in the case.

THOMAS BRANDT and JOHN F. ROEHM III successfully represented a North Texas city which was sued in federal court for excessive force and having deficient policies, practices and customs regarding use of force.  A motion to dismiss was filed and Plaintiff chose to dismiss her suit with prejudice.

THOMAS BRANDT and JOHN F. ROEHM III represented the President of the Board of Trustees of a major North Texas school district who was sued by a former teacher for business disparagement.  The teacher alleged that the Board President’s comments to the press during an interview prevented him from being hired as a teacher.  A motion for summary judgment was filed on behalf of the Board President on the grounds of immunities and First Amendment protection.  The court granted the motion and dismissed the case.

THOMAS BRANDT and JOSHUA SKINNER successfully represented a North Texas school district and several of its officials who were sued for various civil rights violations arising out of injuries sustained by a disabled student.  The District Court dismissed with prejudice all of the claims brought against the individual school officials.  The District Court also dismissed Plaintiff’s §1983 claim based upon the state-created-danger theory and Plaintiff’s claims for punitive damages.

THOMAS BRANDT, JOSHUA SKINNER and LAURA O’LEARY successful represented a local governmental entity in a suit which sought declaratory relief, damages and attorney’s fees.  The suit focused on the ownership of a 124 acre parcel of real property.  The District Court in Collin County agreed with our arguments and granted our plan to the jurisdiction.  All claims against the entity and its former president were dismissed with prejudice.

THOMAS BRANDT and JOSHUA SKINNER, along with a North Texas City Attorney’s office, its police department, and the Attorney General’s office, successfully prosecuted a nuisance abatement action against a topless bar in Arlington.  As a result of the joint efforts, the topless bar agreed to close its doors for one year, the maximum time for abatement under the nuisance abatement statute.

THOMAS BRANDT and JOSHUA SKINNER obtained the dismissal of breach of contract claims against a West Texas junior college and one of its professors.  The plaintiff, a former student, brought suit alleging that the college and professor had failed to follow various policies or procedures relating to the grading and evaluation of written assignments.  Motions to dismiss were filed on behalf of the defendants.  The court dismissed the breach of contract claims, holding that there was no waiver of governmental immunity as to the college and that the professor was not a party to the “contracts” in question.

MARC FANNING recently won three separate Summary Judgments for a well known grocery store chain the North Texas area.


  • Marc Fanning was asked to speak at the 14th Annual Fraud Conference Sponsored by Texas Department of Insurance in Austin being held February 28 – 29, 2012.  Marc will be speaking on Wednesday the 29th on the topic of “The Examination Under Oath.”  To read the firm’s recent media release regarding Marc’s presentation, click here.
  • Thomas Brandt was selected, once again, to serve on the planning committee for the State Bar of Texas’ legal seminar entitled “Suing and Defending Governmental Entities.”  The course will be held in Austin in July of 2012.
  • Frank Valenzuela spoke at the Belo Mansion to the St. Thomas More Society, a Catholic lawyers’ group in Dallas, at its February 2, 2012, luncheon on the topic of “Religion in Schools: Morgan v. Swanson and Hosanna Tabor”.
  • Frank Valenzuela has been selected to present a paper on the Americans with Disabilities Act, as it concerns employment discrimination and retaliation, at the State Bar of Texas’ “Suing and Defending Governmental Entities” seminar in July, 2012 in Austin, Texas.
  • Ellen Dorn was recently quoted in the Dallas Morning News concerning her expertise in estate planning.  In the article entitled “How to Leave a Digital Legacy for Your Heirs,” Ellen offered her advice concerning the best practices for handling digital assets. Ellen emphasized that it is important to communicate to those in your life whom you trust, or to your attorney, what it is that you own, what it is that you value, and how that information can be accessed upon your death.


To find out more about these attorneys, or more about our firm, please visit our website at www.fhmbk.com.

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.