Wright & Greenhill PC attorney Stephen Barron prevailed at the Seventh Court of Appeals in the case of Mitschke v. Borromeo on the merits earlier this summer. Mitschke v. Borromeo, 2023 WL 4542307 (Tex. App. Amarillo July 12, 2023, no pet. h.) The facts of the case were tragic. A 16-year-old boy was killed after he and his friends drove Blackjack Ranch’s ATV without permission. The ATV turned over while it was being driven through the mud, resulting in fatal injuries.
This case attained State-wide attention when it went to the Texas Supreme Court on a jurisdictional question, which resulted in the Texas Judiciary officially recognizing the legal principle of horizontal stare decisis. Mitschke v. Borromeo, 645 S.W.3d 251 (Tex. 2022). The Texas Supreme Court subsequently remanded the case to be heard on the merits at the Seventh Court of Appeals.
Mr. Barron delivered the appellate arguments on the merits to the Seventh Court in defense of a complete Summary Judgment awarded to defendants Marida Borromeo and the Blackjack Ranch.
Opposing counsel argued that the Blackjack Ranch had a duty to have trained one of the 16-year-old boys to drive the ATV safely because he had previously done summer work on the Ranch when school was out. Opposing counsel also argued that the Court should reverse the summary judgment because there was a fact question as to if the 16-year-old had an “implied entrustment” to take the ATV when the Ranch knew he was a reckless driver.
The Seventh Court disagreed, and unanimously agreed with Mr. Barron’s arguments for the defense, holding that (1) the Ranch had no duty to control any of the 16-year-old boys when they took the ATV, and (2) that—even if there was an entrustment—there was no evidence that the 16-year-old who had previously driven the ATV as a summer worker was a reckless driver.
The majority of Mr. Barron’s law practice revolves around defending cities, counties, corporations, and their employees in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations, personal injury, premises liability, employment law violations, and other matters involving high stakes litigation.