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2011 – Death and Taxes … and Chickens

The sole issue in this case was at what point in the life of a chicken does the chicken lose its tax-exempt status as poultry?

When this lawsuit was filed in 2011, Pilgrim’s Pride was the second-largest chicken producer in the world.  A vertically-integrated company, Pilgrim’s Pride controlled every phase of the production of its poultry – from egg, to hatchling, to chicken, to drumstick, to chicken salad. As such, Pilgrim’s Pride owned and operated feed mills, hatcheries, processing plants and distribution centers in 14 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Following the denial of a tax protest regarding the valuation of the contents of a cold storage warehouse located in Tarrant County, Texas, Pilgrim’s Pride filed suit in the 352nd District Court seeking a de novo review[1].  Housed inside the warehouse in question was boxed, frozen chicken meat (also described as “chicken flesh,” “dead chicken, without giblets” and “breaded, baked, par-fried chicken”) on which the Tarrant Appraisal District had levied an ad valorem tax.

Texas Tax Code Section 11.16, the enabling legislation for Article VIII, Section 16 of the Texas Constitution, exempts from ad valorem taxation “farm products, livestock and poultry” held by “producers” while the producer is “financially providing for the physical requirements of such livestock and poultry.”  Pilgrim’s Pride relied on these provisions to claim tax exempt status for the contents of the warehouse.

In summary judgment motions presented to Judge Bonnie Sudderth in which both sides agreed that there was no material fact in dispute, the parties – Pilgrim’s Pride and the Tarrant County Appraisal District – submitted the case for a legal determination by Judge Sudderth.  Pilgrim’s Pride argued that the contents of its cold storage facility warehouse constituted tax-exempt “poultry” the physical requirements of which Pilgrim’s Pride, the producer, was financially providing for. As the owner and producer of the poultry, Pilgrim’s Pride contended that it was financially responsible for all of their poultry’s physical requirements from egg to chicken part storage, and all points in between, until the chicken was sold to a third party.  For that reason, Pilgrim’s Pride sought a summary judgment ruling that its warehoused chicken would retain its tax-exempt status until it was sold in the market.

Tarrant Appraisal District filed a summary judgment motion as well, taking the position that once the chickens were no longer alive, Pilgrim’s Pride became a “processor” rather than a “producer” within the meaning of the Constitution and Statute.  The District also argued that frozen chickens would no longer have “physical requirements” requiring financial support, which the statute requires in order to support a tax exemption.  The Tarrant Appraisal District sought a summary judgment ruling by Judge Bonnie Sudderth that the chicken stored in Pilgrim’s Pride warehouse were properly subject to ad valorem taxation under state law.

Judge Bonnie Sudderth ruled that just as livestock, once slaughtered, would no longer enjoy tax exempt status as “livestock” under the constitutional and statutory provisions, poultry, once slaughtered, would not longer enjoy tax exempt status as “poultry” under these same provisions.

In explaining her ruling, Judge Sudderth pointed to the idiosyncrasy of the English language that changes the name of some farm animals once they are slaughtered.  In polite company, one would not purchase steaks or pork chops by asking the butcher for a pound of “livestock” or “pig,” whereas, “poultry” and “chicken” are permissible nouns to to describe chicken, whether located in the coop or behind the meat counter.  The statute clearly identifies “livestock” as tax exempt, but not “beef” or “pork,” so there is no confusion in the law with regard to bovines or swine.  Once the cow and the pig are slaughtered, their tax exempt status ends. Judge Sudderth reasoned that even though the English language calls for no name change upon the death of a chicken, it would make no sense for there to be a distinction between dead cows, pigs or poultry when it comes to ad valorem taxation.

Furthermore, Judge Sudderth reasoned, the purpose of the tax-exemption laws would not extend to cold-storage warehousing of meat products.  These laws were designed to provide tax exemptions to farmers and ranchers who were tending to the daily needs (such as food, water and veterinary care) of their flocks and herds, not for warehousemen who simply store the frozen meats.

Finally Judge Sudderth agreed with the Tarrant Appraisal District in her opinion that neither the livestock nor the chickens, once slaughtered, would have “physical requirements” necessitating financial support, as required under the tax exemption statute.

In denying Pilgrim’s Pride’s summary judgment motion, Judge Bonnie Sudderth held that Pilgrim’s Pride, who bore the legal burden of clearly establishing that its operations fell within the tax exemption, failed to meet its burden.  In granting Tarrant Appraisal District’s motion for summary judgment, Judge Sudderth upheld the Tarrant Appraisal District’s interpretation of the constitutional and statutory provisions as reasonable and not in conflict with the plain meaning of the statute.

Judge Bonnie Sudderth’s ruling was not appealed, leaving undisturbed those two certainties in life – even in the life of a chicken – Death and Taxes.


[1] For a discussion and explanation of the concept of de novo review, go to: http://bonniesudderth.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/when-can-i-get-a-trial-de-novo/

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2001 – Taxpayer Protest of Arlington Street Maintenance Fee

In 2000, the City Council of the City of Arlington, Texas adopted an ordinance that established a street maintenance fee which was assessed in city water bills.  This fee was later amended and then finally repealed in 2003. 

During that time, on May 15, 2001, an Arlington taxpayer filed a lawsuit in the 352nd District Court of Tarrant County, Texas against the City of Arlington, arguing that the fee constituted an illegal tax. Other Constitutional challenges were also raised, including allegations that the street maintenance fee violated equal protection and due process rights, was void for vagueness, and provided no mechanism for redress of unlawful collection of the tax. In addition, the taxpayer asserted that the City had violated the Texas Debt Collection Act, and he brought a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The City of Arlington claimed general authority to assess fees of this nature by ordinance, rather than charter amendment, but the taxpayer argued that it was a tax which was not permitted under the city charter without approval of the voters. Judge Bonnie Sudderth ultimately issued a summary judgment ruling that the City of Arlington exceeded its authority by taxing the citizens without their consent in violation of the city charter.

While the case was pending, the taxpayer also sought an injunction to prohibit the City from collecting the street maintenance fee and to require the City to refund the full amount of street maintenance fees collected. The lawsuit was brought by the taxpayer on his own behalf as an individual and resident of Arlingtonas well as on behalf of the proposed class of persons – all taxpayers from the City ofArlington- who had been billed for the street maintenance fee.

In response, the City asserted a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that the trial court did not have jurisdiction due to the plaintiff’s lack of standing to sue because his claim did not meet the $500 amount-in-controversy requirement. The City also claimed immunity from suit.  Judge Bonnie Sudderth denied the City’s plea to the jurisdiction and granted a motion for partial summary judgment declaring the maintenance fee an unlawful tax imposed without consent required of the citizens, but denied the injunctive relief sought.

After so ruling, Judge Sudderth expressed concern to the parties that due to the unique nature of the case and the fact that because there was little guidance in the law on the correct application of the law to the facts of the case, the parties could potentially expend considerable costs of litigation which might be unnecessary if the appellate court disagreed with her interim rulings.  Because of this, Judge Sudderth suggested that the parties agree to request a written order for interlocutory appeal to the Second Court of Appeals.

This agreed interlocutory appeal mechanism was a new creature of statute (Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code, Section 51.014[d]), having at that time recently been enacted by the Texas Legislature.  The new law provided that parties in litigation may agree to appeal an otherwise non-appealable interlocutory ruling if: (1) the ruling involves a controlling question of law as to which there is a substantial ground for difference of opinion, (2)  an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation;  and (3)  the parties agree to the order.

Without such agreement, the interlocutory summary judgment ruling would not have been appealable at that time, and the parties would have been required to wait until the entire case, including the class action certification issues, were concluded before testing Judge Sudderth’s ruling on appeal.  The parties agreed to go forward with an immediate agreed appeal, as suggested by Judge Sudderth, which the Second Court of Appeals accepted.  (This was the first agreed appeal that the Second Court of Appeals ever accepted under the new law.)

As a result of that agreed interlocutory appeal, Judge Sudderth’s ruling was reversed – not because her ruling was erroneous regarding the illegality of the tax – but on the ground that the taxpayer lacked “standing” to complain about it because the taxpayer failed to show a “particularized injury distinct from that suffered by the general public.” 

In the interim, the City of  Arlington held an election on the issue and the tax was ultimately approved by the voters.

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2002 – Reviving the Cullen Davis Case

In August of 1976, a lone gunman dressed in black entered the mansion owned by millionaire oilman T. Cullen Davis and shot four people, including Davis’ estranged wife Priscilla, who had legal possession of the home at the time, according to the terms of their pending divorce proceedings.  Two people survived the shootings, but Priscilla’ daughter, Andrea Willborn, and her boyfriend, Stan Farr, did not.

Cullen Davis, who was then said to be worth approximately $400 million, was indicted for the murders.  The next year, after a change of venue moved the case to Amarillo, Texas, Davis, at the time reported to be the “the richest man to stand trial on murder charges,” was acquitted of murder in one of the most notorious and globally-televised events of the decade. (Davis was also later acquitted of murder-for-hire charges in a separate case where it was alleged that he attempted to arrange for the presiding judge of his divorce action to meet an untimely and violent death as well.)

Davis was never tried in Farr’s death, but in 1990, he agreed to settle the wrongful death civil action which had been filed on behalf of Farr’s two teenage children.  In the settlement agreement, Davis agreed to pay the children $250,000.  The agreed judgment based on the settlement was entered on February 15, 1990, but the settlement was amended three years later to include a provision requiring Davis to pay the balance of the judgment by 1997.  The judgment was never paid.

On September 27, 2002, the children, who were by this time adults, filed a suit to recover the debt in the 352nd District Court, Judge Bonnie Sudderth presiding.  Davis responded by claiming that the statute of limitations barred the children’s claims against him – that he no longer legally owed the judgment because the children had waited too long to collect it.

Davis argued that the original judgment had become “dormant” on February 14, 2000 (ten years after the original judgment was signed) because the children had not sought a writ of execution of the judgment during the 10-year period of time. Texas law provides that judgments become dormant after 10 years if no writ of execution is issued.

However, Texas law also provides that a dormant judgment may be “revived” by filing a lawsuit on the debt if not brought later than the second anniversary of the date the judgment becomes dormant.  The problem, Davis pointed out, was that the children waited two years and seven months to bring the debt action, and, therefore, he contended, the debt was no longer owed.

The Farr children sought summary judgment, asking Judge Sudderth to rule that their claims were not time-barred, since they were both minors at the time the settlement was entered into.   Texas law stops the clock on limitations during a child’s minority years, if they are under the age of 18 at the time a cause of action accrues.

Judge Bonnie Sudderth agreed with the Farr children that their claims against Davis were not time-barred.  The effect of Judge Sudderth’s ruling affirmed that Davis still owed the Farr children $125,000 each, plus interest as provided by law.

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2004 – Cows vs. Horses

It’s only fitting that this lawsuit would be filed in a court located in Cowtown…

In 2001, Cattle Pros entered into a contract to provide cattle for the National Cutting Horse Association’s (NCHA) Championship Futurity, the Super Stakes and the Summer Spectacular Events over a three-year period of time.  For the first event, the 2001 NCHA Championship Futurity, Cattle Pros was obligated to provide between 10,000-12,000 cattle.  The cattle were required to be between 450-750 pounds in weight and in good health (no blind, injured or physically defective cattle).  In addition, the cattle couldn’t have “too much ear” on them (meaning they must be primarily English breeds) and must be “fresh,” in that they could not have previously been used in a cutting horse event.  (Witnesses testified at trial that cattle which had been “worked” in prior events learned techniques on how to avoid being cut from the herd.) 

Just prior to the first event and after having inspecting less than 20% of the cattle to be provided, the NCHA concluded that Cattle Pros would be unable to provide satisfactory quantity and quality of cattle for the event. Shortly thereafter, NCHA terminated all future contracts with Cattle Pros and made arrangements for another company to supply cattle for next and subsequent events.

Cattle Pros brought suit in the 352nd District Court for breach of contract, seeking damages in excess of $1.5 million.  Summary judgments were presented to Judge Bonnie Sudderth for consideration, but Judge Sudderth denied them, ruling that a fact existed which precluded summary judgment and which would require a jury finding after a full trial on the merits.  The issue at trial was whether or not NCHA had acted within its rights to terminate the contract in advance of the event and whether or not Cattle Pros was able to perform under the terms and conditions of the contract.  Throughout the trial, the judge, the jury and everyone else in the courtroom was provided with a unique glimpse into the world of cutting horses and cutting horse competitions.

At the end of trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the NCHA and awarded the association approximately $250,000 in attorney’s fees.  Judge Bonnie Sudderth accepted the jury’s verdict and signed a judgment in NCHA’s favor.

(Side note:  During trial, one of the attorneys who represented the Cutting Horse Association would frequently whisper to co-counsel so loudly that his voice could be heard several feet away from counsel table. This earned him the nickname among court staff as the “Horse Whisperer.”)

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2005 – RadioShack / Circuit City Brand Dispute

When Circuit City purchased InterTan, RadioShack’s former Canadian subsidiary, it continued to operate the InterTan stores under the RadioShack name.  RadioShack, concerned that its brand in Canada would be controlled by its competitor at home, sought a temporary injunction in the 352nd District Court of Texas, asking that Judge Bonnie Sudderth temporarily halt the practice.  At the time the lawsuit was filed, InterTan operated 500 RadioShack stores and 340 RadioShack dealerships in Canada.

RadioShack had terminated its licensing, advertising and merchandising agreements with InterTan a year before, but InterTan argued that such agreements didn’t expire until 2010.  Judge Bonnie Sudderth disagreed, and at the temporary injunction hearing she determined that RadioShack had not wrongfully terminated the agreements with InterTan.  Judge Sudderth also ordered Circuit City to stop using the RadioShack brand name on products in the Canadian stores that it had acquired.  Although her order was issued on March 24, 2005, it would not be effective until approximately three months later, on July 1, 2005. 

Circuit City, who offered no reason for wanting to keep the RadioShack brand name in Canada, indicated that it would appeal the decision.  A spokesman for Circuit City commented that the electronics store intended to “use every means of relief possible” to exercise its rights under the agreements, “including all appeal rights.”  No appeal was filed, however, and some time thereafter the companies entered into settlement negotiations.

Judge Sudderth’s ruling effectively ended InterTan’s affiliation with RadioShack, and arguably allowed for the possibility of RadioShack opening its own stores in Canada at some later date.  Approximately one year after her ruling, the parties submitted to Judge Sudderth an agreed stipulation, indicating that the companies had settled their differences.  Judge Sudderth later signed an order of dismissal, ending the litigation.

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2001 – Railroad Collision and the Missing Signal Post

In 1993, a veteran lead engineer was operating a train in heavy fog when he spotted a red stop light at an approaching intersection with another rail line.  Using an emergency braking maneuver, he managed to stop the lead engine a few feet into the crossing.  Seconds later, an approaching train collided nearly head-on into the stopped train, causing the engineer’s death and serious injuries to other crew members.  One year later, a lawsuit was filed by the engineer’s estate and family members, who claimed that a faulty positioned and unlit distance signal which, if visible, would have warned of the approaching intersection, caused the collision.

Seven years later, in 2000, the case went to trial in the 342nd District Court.  In the interim, both sides had inspected the scene of the collision, including the distance signal and had videotaped the signal as they rode a train over the tracks while the signal was in place.  But by the time of trial, for unknown reasons the actual signal post had been taken from the accident scene; it was missing and could not be found. 

At trial, the railroad’s attorneys used a “typical” distance signal that had been pieced together from other used signals as a demonstrative aid.  This exhibit was different from the original signal – it had newer equipment and a more powerful light bulb.  Its surface had also been wiped clean before it had been brought into the courtroom.  When the judge learned of this, he accused the railroad’s attorneys of altering evidence, declared a mistrial, imposed a $10,000 fine against the railroad’s attorney personally and levied a $10,000,000 fine against the railroad.  Several days later, however, without explanation, the judge set aside the fines and recused himself from presiding any further over the case.

Shortly thereafter, the Presiding Regional Judge assigned the case to Judge Bonnie Sudderth of the 352nd District Court.  Prior to retrial of the case, plaintiffs sought to have the sanctions reinstated.  Judge Sudderth denied the request, finding that nothing in the record showed that the railroad had tried to pass off the exhibit as something that it wasn’t.  “It seems abundantly clear that everyone in the courtroom – the judge, the attorneys, the witness and the jury – knew that the signal was a demonstrative aid, and nothing more.”  The signal, Judge Sudderth ruling against the sanctions motion, could have been “run through a car wash” with no harm, since everyone in the courtroom was aware that it was an exemplar, not the original signal.  However, the judge did find that by failing to preserve such a critical piece of evidence, the railroad had “negligently destroyed” it, and Judge Sudderth gave the jury a spoliation instruction that they could “presume that the destroyed signal was unfavorable” to the railroad’s position in the lawsuit.

Less than a year later, it was tried again to a jury, who found no negligence on the part of the railway or the engineer at the time of the collision.  (The National Transportation Safety Board had also investigated the incident and found no fault on the part of the railroad or any of its crew members.)  The jury’s verdict was not appealed, and the parties later reached a confidential financial settlement to  finally put the matter to rest.

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1998 – HMO Class Action Lawsuit

Four hundred Tarrant County doctors filed a class action lawsuit against Harris HMO, alleging that the physician payment system in its plan violated Texas insurance laws.  In the lawsuit, which was filed in the 352nd District Court, the physicians asked Judge Bonnie Sudderth to issue a temporary injunction preventing the HMO from enforcing monetary penalties against doctors who overspent their budget in issuing prescriptions to patients. 

The law in Texas at the time the case was filed provided that managed care entities could not establish physician payment systems which created financial incentives to limit medically necessary care to patients.

At the temporary injunction hearing, the undisputed evidence established that physicians who spent less than budgeted amounts received bonuses from the HMO, while doctors who exceeded their budgets were penalized.  At that point in time, the HMO had imposed millions of dollars in fines against the physicians who had exceeded established budgets.  The doctors argued that they shouldn’t be forced to choose between their bottom lines and their patients’  best interests. 

In issuing the requested injunction, Judge Sudderth found that the HMO’s practices resulted in the denial of medically necessary care to patients.  “These denials include circumstances of cherry-picking, patient-dumping … and outright denials of treatment, referrals and prescriptions,” Judge Sudderth explained, in ruling in favor of the requested injunction. 

A few months later, the Texas Insurance Department levied an $800,000 fine against the HMO for violations of state insurance regulations that prohibit health plans from using financial incentives to encourage doctors to withhold medically necessary care.  Shortly thereafter, the HMO announced its plan to do away with the caps on prescription spending in physician contracts and to compensate the doctors who had been fined for exceeding their budgets.  Within a few days of this announcement, the parties entered into settlement negotiations which resulted in the eventual settlement of the lawsuit.

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1999 – Parvin vs. Dean: Lawsuit for Death of Unborn Child

Judge Bonnie Sudderth granted summary judgment in favor of parents who suffered the death of their unborn child as the result of a car accident, on the following facts:  The mother of the child was struck by another vehicle while driving through an intersection.  The other driver stipulated that he was negligent in causing the collision and the woman was not at fault. 

Immediately after the collision, the woman, who was 9-months pregnant at the time, felt her baby kicking in the womb.  Although her water did not break and she had no bleeding, an ambulance took her from the accident scene to a hospital as a precautionary measure.  Her unborn child died in the womb en route to the hospital. 

The next day, knowing that her child was no longer alive and with her husband by her side, she endured more than nine hours of labor to deliver her stillborn daughter.  The undisputed medical evidence proved that the child was fully developed, viable and could have lived outside the womb immediately before the collision, she had the capacity to cry at the time of the collision, she was alive at the time of the collision but survived only for a short period of time thereafter, and, finally, that the collision was the cause of the child’s death.

 The law at the time this case was filed in the 352nd District Cout was that while Texas parents could recover for the wrongful death of a child who died only moments after birth, parents could not sue for the wrongful death for a child who was not born alive.  The law also provided that while the mother could recover for her own mental anguish due to the death of her daughter, the father could not recover for his mental anguish.

Judge Sudderth granted summary judgment, ruling that a viable unborn child was an “individual” within the scope of the Wrongful Death Act, and should not be excluded under the statute because she was not born alive.  Judge Sudderth also ruled that the father was entitled to the same rights as a mother to recover mental anguish damages for the loss of his child.

Judge Sudderth’s decision was appealed to the Second Court of Appeals, who, sitting en banc, upheld Judge Sudderth’s ruling.  Justice Dixon Holman authored the opinion, which can be found at:  Parvin v. Dean, 7 S.W.3d 264 (Tex. App. – Ft  Worth 1999).  In a subsequent unrelated case, the Texas Supreme Court criticized the Parvin v. Dean decision, but shortly thereafter the Texas Legislature amended the statute to codify this result.

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2004 – Class Action Lawsuit Regarding Edna Gladney Adoption Files

Lee and Carolyn Williams of Fort Worth won an early victory in the lawsuit they filed in the 352nd District Court against the Gladney Center for Adoption when State District Judge Bonnie Sudderth ordered that the Center release approximately 800 pages of medical records related to the birth mother of their adoptive daughter.  However, when the parents sought to certify their lawsuit as a class action, arguing that Gladney should be forced to open up medical and psychological records for 4,000 other adoptions which dated back to the mid-1970’s, Judge Sudderth disagreed.

The parents, after experiencing years of troubling behavior by their daughter, starting with fitful sleeping and incessant crying as a baby and developing into serious misbehavior at school, including biting and fighting, initially sought medical and psychological information about the birth mother from the Gladney Center in order to obtain more effective medical treatment for their daughter, who was later diagnosed with depression and attention deficit disorder.  The Center responded that these records were unavailable due to confidentiality.

When, at age 12, she pulled a kitchen knife on her mother, the parents sought legal counsel to help them try once again to find out more about her genetic history.  Although the Center reiterated that the birth mother had refused permission for the release most of the information they sought, it did provide some new information about family medical history, including cancer, alcoholism and “mental problems” in general.

The parents continued seeking treatment for their daughter, who despite these problems, graduated from high school in just three years, from college in another three years, eventually earning a Master’s Degree in accounting for the Universityof North Texas.  Even with her high academic achievement, her parents contended that because of her behavioral problems, she couldn’t keep a job.  By this time, the parents had filed their lawsuit in the 352nd District Court, claiming that the Gladney center had violated state law by withholding information from them.  They requested that  Judge Bonnie Sudderth force the GladneyCenter to not only release the information they sought but also to release similar information regarding all adoptions from 1975-1989.

Gladney responded that because the birth mothers in many of the adoptions during this time period had been promised strict confidentiality at the time, they would not voluntarily release this information.  They cited state laws which required them to maintain the confidentiality of the records and argued that recent laws which opened up some records didn’t apply to adoptions which had happened years earlier.  Gladney essentially took the position that existing law tied their hands.

The Williams’ daughter was adopted under a “closed” adoption system, which means that the birth parents and adoptive parents remained unknown to each other, and at the time of her adoption the existing state laws were stringent, making access to adoption records virtually impossible to obtain.  By the 1980s, however, the adoption laws in Texas began to relax, allowing adoptive parents to obtain some health, social, educational and genetic background information, but still requiring that information which would reveal the identity of the birth parents remained withheld.  

In 2003, Judge Bonnie Sudderth ordered the Gladney Centerto turn over this information to the Williams family.  However, when the Williams’ sought class action certification of their lawsuit, which would have required that all Gladney Center birth parents from 1975-1989 receive notification of the court proceedings and their right to participate in them, Judge Sudderth refused.  If successful, the class action lawsuit would have resulted in the automatic opening of records for all adoptive parents during that time period. 

The Gladney Center fiercely resisted these efforts, pointing out that if the class action was certified, the Center would be required to mail notices to thousands of birth mothers, advising them of the existence of the class action lawsuit and informing them of its potential effect.  Gladney argued that the mere act of mailing the notice would violate the birth mother’s privacy rights.  Most birth mothers, Gladney argued, expected that the promise of confidentiality given to them would always be protected.

In refusing the class action request, Judge Sudderth cited concerns that so doing would open up a “Pandora’s Box” on matters that many birth parents had received assurance would forever remain closed.  She characterized the issues surrounding these closed adoptions as “so highly individualized, intensely personal and emotionally charged” that all of the affected persons should not be lumped into one class action group together.  In her letter ruling, Judge Sudderth stated, “Certifying this proposed class would also carry with it a significant risk of opening up a Pandora’s Box on matters which at least some in the proposed class would prefer to remain closed,”

Not surprisingly, Gladney’s attorneys agreed with Judge Sudderth’s ruling, pointing out that Texas law permits class action certifications only when rigorous standards have been met proving that the claims should be grouped together. 

Although the Williams family disagreed with Judge Sudderth’s ruling, they decided not to appeal to a higher court.  Instead, they stated publicly that they would concentrate their efforts on helping other families get their individual records in the future, as they had.

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