Appeal from the 385th District Court Midland County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. CV51195
consists of: Wright, C.J., Willson, J., and Bailey, J.
M. BAILEY JUSTICE.
summary judgment appeal concerns an application of Chapter 95
of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code to claims brought by
the survivors of the decedent, Angel Cuevas, Jr. Cuevas was
fatally injured while working on a drilling rig that was
drilling a well on a lease owned and operated by Endeavor
Energy Resources, L.P. Appellants filed suit against Endeavor
and Cuevas's employer, Big Dog Drilling, alleging claims
of negligence and premises liability. The trial court granted
Endeavor's motion for summary judgment based upon its
determination that Appellants did not have evidence to
establish a claim against Endeavor under Section 95.003.
See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
95.003 (West 2011). We affirm.
is an owner/operator of oil and gas leases located in Midland
County. Endeavor contracted with Big Dog Drilling to drill a
well on Endeavor's mineral lease. Cuevas was an employee
of Big Dog Drilling. On June 25, 2011, Cuevas and other rig
hands were working on Big Dog Drilling Rig No. 17. The
accident occurred while the Big Dog crew was "rigging
up" the rig in preparation for drilling operations.
Cuevas was working in the substructure area of the rig, known
as the cellar, trying to repair a cellar jet line. The cellar
jet line is a pipe that works as a vacuum to remove fluid
from the cellar.
and the other rig hands were using a rope known as a catline,
which was attached to a pulley system known as a cathead, to
lift the cellar jet line in order to make the repairs. During
this process, the catline became unexpectedly caught on the
cathead, which caused the cellar jet line to rise abruptly
and strike Cuevas in the head, ultimately resulting in his
death. No Endeavor employees were present at the location
when the accident occurred.
Plaintiffs' Original Petition, they alleged that Endeavor
owned and operated the job site and that Endeavor was an
occupier of the premises. Plaintiffs alleged that the premises
were unreasonably dangerous, unsafe, and a producing cause of
their damages. Plaintiffs alleged a premises liability claim
against Endeavor based on the contention that Cuevas suffered
bodily injury resulting in his death as a result of a
dangerous condition on the premises, which Endeavor permitted
to exist and about which Endeavor failed to warn Cuevas.
filed a motion for summary judgment asserting traditional and
no-evidence grounds regarding Appellants' original
negligence and premises liability claims. Endeavor's
traditional summary judgment grounds alleged that Chapter 95
applied to plaintiffs' claims against Endeavor, and
Endeavor's no-evidence ground asserted that plaintiffs
had no evidence satisfying the requirements of Section
95.003. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a supplemental petition
alleging negligent hiring, retention, and supervision claims
against Endeavor. Plaintiffs alleged that Endeavor was
negligent in hiring Cuevas's employer, Big Dog Drilling,
to drill a well on its lease and that Endeavor was negligent
in failing to properly supervise Big Dog Drilling as it
performed work on the lease. Endeavor did not amend or
supplement its motion for summary judgment to address these
hearing, the trial court granted Endeavor's motion for
summary judgment on all claims asserted by Appellants.
Collectively, Appellants present two issues on
appeal. They assert in their first issue that the
trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the
original premises liability claim. They assert in their
second issue that the trial court erred by granting summary
judgment on the negligent hiring, retention, and supervision
claims that were pleaded after Endeavor filed its motion for
Original Premises Liability and Negligence Claims
review a summary judgment de novo. Travelers Ins. Co. v.
Joachim, 315 S.W.3d 860, 862 (Tex. 2010). As noted
previously, Endeavor asserted, as a traditional summary
judgment ground, that Appellants' original claims against
Endeavor are governed by Chapter 95. We are aided in our
analysis by two recent opinions by the Texas Supreme Court
addressing the application of Chapter 95. See Ineos USA,
LLC v. Elmgren, 505 S.W.3d 555 (Tex. 2016);
Abutahoun v. Dow Chem. Co., 463 S.W.3d 42 (Tex.
at the outset that the parties agree that Chapter 95 applies
to Appellants' original premises liability and negligence
claims as alleged in Plaintiffs' Original Petition.
Accordingly, Endeavor's traditional summary judgment
ground is not being challenged on appeal as it applies to
Appellants' original claims. Instead, Appellants'
first issue focuses on Endeavor's no-evidence ground
asserting that Appellants had no evidence to establish a
claim under Section 95.003.
adequate time for discovery, a party may move for summary
judgment on the ground that there is no evidence of one or
more essential elements of a claim or defense on which an
adverse party would have the burden of proof at trial.
Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(i). A no-evidence summary judgment motion
under Rule 166a(i) is essentially a motion for a pretrial
directed verdict; it requires the nonmoving party to present
evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact supporting
each element contested in the motion. Id.;
Timpte Indus., Inc. v. Gish, 286 S.W.3d 306, 310
(Tex. 2009); Mack Trucks, Inc. v. Tamez, 206 S.W.3d
572, 581-82 (Tex. 2006). When reviewing a no-evidence summary
judgment, we "review the evidence presented by the
motion and response in the light most favorable to the party
against whom the summary judgment was rendered, crediting
evidence favorable to that party if ...