JudicialLocal NewsStatewide NewsTexas GOP Lawsuit Against City of Houston Over Convention Cancellation May Continue, Appeals Court Rules

The appeals court ruled that the city left out a key part of its force majeure argument in the motion for the lower court to toss the case.
March 4, 2022
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The Republican Party of Texas’ (RPT) suit against Houston First Corporation over the last-minute cancellation of the party’s 2020 convention will continue.

An appeals court ruled the governmental corporation left out a key part of its argument in the lower court’s summary judgment motion.

In July 2020, Houston First Corporation, which runs the city’s George R. Brown Convention Center, canceled the party’s convention a week before it was set to begin by triggering the contract’s force majeure clause at the behest of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The party sued to force the center to host the convention and honor the contract, a challenge that quickly made its way all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. But the court rejected that petition in the moment.

Force majeure is a contingency that allows for the termination of a contract due to an unforeseen event.

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After the technical disaster that was the party’s online convention, the Texas GOP sued Houston First and Turner alleging a breach of contract and improper use of the force majeure provision.

RPT is seeking at least $1 million in monetary damages caused by the convention’s cancelation.

In turn, Houston First says that the pandemic and positive case rise in the months preceding the event constituted valid use of the force majeure.

The 333rd District Court of Harris County dismissed the party’s suit “with prejudice” in a summary judgment. The party then petitioned the Fourteenth Court of Appeals which reversed the trial court’s order this week, and ordered the case trial to be held and that Houston First foot the legal bill for the appeal.

The appeals court ruled that Houston First “omitted from its motion a required element for proving its force majeure defense.”

“Accordingly, because not all necessary grounds were expressly presented to the trial court in the summary-judgment motion, we hold the trial court reversibly erred by granting the motion,” the court added.

The case will now move back to the 333rd District Court for further consideration, which is currently in the discovery phase.

“The cancellation of our 2020 convention violated our contract and caused the party significant monetary damages,” RPT Chairman Matt Rinaldi said after the ruling. “This victory in the Court of Appeals is an important step in being made whole, as we look forward to a successful 2022 convention.”

Two of the three appeals judges that heard the summary judgment challenge are Democrats, including Justice Charles Spain who wrote the opinion. All three signed onto the decision.

The party’s 2022 convention is scheduled to be held back in Houston at the same convention center in June.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.