In 2009, Texas enacted a statutory scheme (the Act), Tex. Bus. Com. Code Ann. 17.921-17.926, where the Act required "for-profit entities" to make certain disclosures when collecting donated clothing or household goods through "public donation receptacles," when making telephone or door-to-door solicitations, and when making mail solicitations. Plaintiffs (charities) brought a constitutional challenge to the Act alleging that it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Attorney General subsequently appealed certain portions of the district court's holding that portions of the statutory scheme were unconstitutional. The court held that the charities lacked standing to challenge the (c) provisions and therefore, the portion of the district court's opinion addressing the constitutionality of the (c) provisions was vacated. The court also held that the portion of the district court's opinion holding that part of section 17.922(d) that read "and a flat fee of (insert amount) is paid to (name of charitable organization)" was unconstitutional was affirmed. The court further held that the sold-for-profit disclosure requirements scattered throughout the Act were constitutional and the district court's contrary conclusion was reversed. Therefore, the case was remanded with instructions to dismiss any claim based on the (c) provisions for want of jurisdiction and for further proceedings, if any, consistent with this opinion.
Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries
This case involved the construction and application of a combined professional and general liability insurance policy issued by appellant to appellee where appellee requested a defense from appellant under the policy for a civil lawsuit. In that underlying suit, plaintiff alleged that while her mother was terminally ill, she consented to appellee's harvesting of some of her mother's organs and tissues after her mother's death and consented to the harvesting because appellee was a non-profit corporation. Appellee, instead, transferred the tissues to a for-profit company, which sold the tissues to hospitals at a profit. Appellee subsequently sought coverage under its general liability insurance with appellant and appellant denied coverage because the conduct alleged was outside the scope of the insurance policy's coverage. The court certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of Texas: (1) "Does the insurance policy provision for coverage of 'personal injury,' defined therein as 'bodily injury, sickness, or disease including death resulting therefrom sustained by any person,' include coverage for mental anguish, unrelated to physical damage to or disease of the plaintiff's body?" (2) "Does the insurance policy provision for coverage of 'property damage,' defined therein as 'physical injury to or destruction of tangible property, including consequential loss of use thereof, or loss of use of tangible property which has not been physically injured or destroyed,' include coverage for the underlying plaintiff's loss of use of her deceased mother's tissues, organs, bones, and body parts?"