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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In May 1999, an explosion at a Corpus Christi refinery, owned by Coastal Refining & Marketing Inc., injured at least three people. The explosion was caused by a ruptured pressure valve in a tank; the rupture occurred as the result of the tank’s thinning walls from internal corrosion. The three injured refinery employees filed suit against CRF’s parent company, The Coastal Corporation. The plaintiffs alleged that Coastal Corp. was negligent, and grossly negligent by way of its budgetary laxity. At trial, the jury answered “yes” to all of the following: 1. The Coastal Corporation had the right to control the budget and/or expenditures of Coastal Refining & Marketing, Inc.; 2. The Coastal Corporation exercised that right of control through a person who was acting as a director, officer, employee or agent of The Coastal Corporation; and 3. The Coastal Corporation’s exercise of that control amounted to negligence. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $122.5 million, and Coastal Corp. appeals. It claims that the plaintiffs’ causes of action are not recognized by Texas law. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. The plaintiffs contend that Coastal Corp., by limiting expenditures, controlled and influenced its subsidiary in a way that directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiffs rely on Redinger v. Living Inc., 689 S.W.2d 415 (Tex. 1985), which had to do with supervisory control over construction work on the premises. The court distinguishes Redinger, saying that it and its progeny make it clear that liability is imposed when there is specific control over the activity that caused the action. In this case, however, the plaintiffs alleged negligent control of the budget, not negligent control over the details of specific operational activities. The court also rejects the finding that any affirmative conduct on Coastal Corp.’s part resulted in the plaintiffs’ injury. Though the court acknowledges that the theory is similar to the “undertaking liability” theory, but that theory requires certain predicates of duty, such as a duty undertaken to protect another, that were not submitted to the jury in this case. The actions Coastal Corp. allegedly took � refusing to budget necessary funds � are not affirmative actions of control undertaken to provide services to protect another. “[Plaintiffs] are complaining of refusals or failures to budget. This is the antithesis of an affirmative course of action.” The court further rejects the use of the “negligent activity” theory in this case. Texas law requires the activity to be a contemporaneous cause of the accident. “The accident made the basis of this suit did not occur as a contemporaneous result of any of the conduct [plaintiffs] allege: namely Coastal’s original purchase of the refinery premises; Coastal’s transfer of the premises to its subsidiary, Coastal Refining; or Coastal’s alleged budgeting activities.” After reversing, the court adds that the plaintiffs “have masterfully presented their arguments,” but, ultimately, they are unsupported by Texas law, and the Texas Supreme Court has often demonstrated an unwillingness to expand tort duties. OPINION:Rodriguez, J.; Valdez, C.J., Hinojosa and Rodriguez, JJ.

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