HOUSTON - International Medicine Center Enterprises (IMC) was awarded court costs on Oct. 26 in a judgement by the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas in a lawsuit against a service provider IMC contended had engaged in deceptive business practices.
The decision modified an earlier trial court decision which denied the court cost award.
IMC, a small clinic in Houston that does vaccinations and medical checks for travelers going overseas, consists of one attending physician, its founder and president Dr. Edward Rensimer. The firm sued ScoNet Inc. and Thomas F. Hurley alleging that ScoNet and Hurley engaged in deceptive trade practices and fraud.
The case arose in 2010 when IMC Practice Manager Rachael Guerra began searching for a support firm to provide IT (business optimization) network services to clients. ScoNet was hired to provide services including computer network security and software checks identifying potential hackers to the system.
Rensimer was not involved in setting up the service agreement and said during testimoney he did not understand the types of services called for but deferred to Guerra to handle it.
Rensimer’s wife Jane requested that ScoNet’s service technician Hurley help her install a storage device for her home computer that would allow access and storage to IMC files, software called DROBO. During an attempt to work with the software the data stored was deleted.
IMC gave ScoNet 30 days notice on July 25, 2011 it was terminating the agreement.
IMC and Rensimer subsequently sued ScoNet for violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the TTLA (Texas Theft Liability Act), also alleging failure to properly disclose services, information on goods and services, misrepresentation and breach of contract.
The suit alleged Hurley was not competent to do the work resulting in the data loss. At court trial an expert appearing for IMC estimated it would take $22,000 to cover the loss of the data.
Rensimer also estimated damages of $5,920 for services not performed and $152,000 in attorney fees.
On February 1, 2016 the trial court found in favor of IMC and against ScoNet and awarded IMC $1 on its breach of contract claim, and $12,256 on its negligence claim. The award denied court costs and attorney fees.
IMC filed a motion for a new trial contending that the damage award was insufficient and that the trial court errored in not awarding court costs.
The trial court denied both motions.
IMC, Rensimer, ScoNet and Hurley all filed appeals.
The high court found that there was factually supporting evidence to support the trial jury's damages award ($12,256) and that the estimate of $22,000 in loss was unproven.
The court also found that because the trial court did not indicate any cause for failing to award court costs, an award for court costs to IMC and Rensimer as the “successful parties” in the case was mandated under the Rules of Civil Procedure 131.
An appeal by ScoNet to retrieve attorney fees the court denied.
The court modified the trial court decision and awarded court costs to IMC and Rensimer as required by the Rules of Civil Procedure 131.