Hospital asks Texas Supreme Court to clarify equal inference rule

By S. Laney Griffo | Apr 25, 2017

AUSTIN – A Texas hospital has appealed a decision made by an appellate court to the Texas Supreme Court.

Lake Travis Transitional LTCH LLC, also known as Lake Travis Specialty Hospital (LTT), is asking the state supreme court to a review the lower court's decision to reverse a $7.9 million verdict against Lakeway Regional Medical Center (LRMC).

LTT originally sued LRMC for breach of contract.

In 2009, LRMC offered to acquire LTT’s new campus which was in the beginning stages of construction. LRMC then delayed parts of the construction.

During acquisition discussion, LTT asked LRMC to sign a confidentiality agreement. The building architect shared with LRMC some of the issues with the construction.

At the same time, LRMC met with members of HUD to discuss mortgaging options for the facility. HUD only offers mortgage options to hospitals that have no competition nearby. They did not tell Housing and Urban Development about LTT which was being built in the same general area.

HUD found out about LTT after giving LRMC the guarantee. In order to keep the guarantee, LRMC shared the confidential information about the issues with LTT’s construction.

The district court ruled in favor of LTT, giving them a $7.9 million. LRMC appealed the decision.

The lower appellate court applied the equal inference rule which states that unless there is so little evidence that the jury must make a guess about what happened, the jury can choose between multiple inferences. They said there was not enough evidence to support any inference.

“The court of appeals erred by applying the equal inference rule simply because the circumstantial evidence may give rise to more than one reasonable inference,” the petition said.

Also according to the petition, LTT is asking the state supreme court to, “clarify that the equal inference rule does not apply, and the jury could decide between competing inferences.”

LTT claims that by clarify when the equal inference rule applies, confusion in lower courts will be cleared.

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