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At a Glance:
Title:
Barker v. NGC Energy, Inc.
Date:
April 18, 1996
Citation:
01-95-00990-CV
Status:
Unpublished Opinion

Barker v. NGC Energy, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (1st Dist.).

Carol Jean BARKER, Individually and on Behalf of the Estate of Robert Elmer Barker, Jr., Deceased; Robert Wayne Barker; James A. Barker; John D. Barker; Phillip L. Barker; Stephen R. Barker; William R. Barker; Susan K. Lakos; and Catherine Faye Allen, Appellants

v.

NGC ENERGY, INC.; NGC Energy Resources, L.P.; and Natural Gas Clearinghouse, Appellees

No. 01-95-00990-CV.

|

April 18, 1996.

On Appeal from the 280th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 93-19341.

OPINION

TAFT, Justice.

*1 Appellants,1 the Barkers, sued appellees2 for negligence and gross negligence over the death of Robert E. Barker, Jr., who was the superintendent of a natural gas gathering and processing plant owned or operated by the appellees. The Barkers alleged that the appellees’ acts created sufficient stress to cause Robert Barker to suffer a fatal heart attack. The trial court granted appellees’ motion for instructed verdict and rendered a take-nothing judgment against the Barkers. The Barkers bring five points of error; appellees bring one cross-point. We affirm.

Appellees’ motion for instructed verdict was based on three grounds: (1) the Barkers did not meet their burden to prove medical causation of Robert Barker’s death; (2) the Barkers did not meet their burden to prove legal causation of Robert Barker’s death because they failed to produce evidence that Robert Barker’s heart attack occurred as the result of trauma traceable to a definite time, place, and cause; and (3) the statute of limitations ran on any cause of action against NER and NGC. The trial granted a general instructed verdict and did not state the specific ground or grounds on which it relied.

On appeal, the Barkers do not attack all three grounds for the instructed verdict. Points of error two, three, and four all relate to evidentiary matters such as comments on the weight of the evidence and exclusion of evidence. Point of error five attacks the trial court’s action in striking the Barkers’ claim of tortious interference with contract against NGC. The only point of error that directly attacks the instructed verdict at all is point of error one, which states, “The trial court erred when it granted Defendants’ motion for directed verdict on the Plaintiffs’ claims of negligence and gross negligence because probative and material evidence was introduced on all elements of the causes of action.”

Reading this point and the arguments under it as broadly as possible, nowhere does the point attack the second and third grounds for the instructed verdict. On the second ground, the Barkers do not argue either (1) that Robert Barker’s heart attack occurred as the result of trauma traceable to a definite time, place, and cause or (2) that the trial court employed an improper legal test in requiring proof of trauma traceable to a definite time, place, and cause. See Olson v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 477 S.W.2d 859, 860 (Tex.1972) (requiring evidence of a particular event that caused injury in workers’ compensation cases). On the third ground, the Barkers do not argue the issue of whether the statute of limitations ran on any cause of action against NER and NGC.

When a trial court grants a motion for instructed verdict without stating the specific ground or grounds on which it is relying, the judgment must be affirmed on appeal if any of the grounds stated in the motion are meritorious. Richardson v. Johnson & Higgins, Inc., 905 S.W.2d 9, 11 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, writ denied). Because the Barkers have not challenged ground two, we must uphold the order granting the instructed verdict. We, therefore, overrule point of error one. In light of our disposition of point one, points of error two through five are moot, and we do not address them. Appellees’ cross-point, which attacks the trial court’s alleged failure to exclude fact witnesses, is also moot, and we do not address it.

*2 We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Footnotes

1

The appellants are Carol Jean Barker, individually and on behalf of the estate of Robert Elmer Barker, Jr., deceased; Robert Wayne Barker; James A. Barker; John D. Barker; Phillip L. Barker; Stephen R. Barker; William R. Barker; Susan K. Lakos; and Catherine Faye Allen.

2

The appellees are NGC Energy, Inc.; NGC Energy Resources, L.P.; and Natural Gas Clearinghouse. NGC Energy Resources, L.P. (NER) is a limited partnership of which NGC Energy, Inc. (NEI) and Natural Gas Clearinghouse (NGC) were general partners.

End of Document
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