Hendershot Cowart P.C. Celebrate a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Win

HOUSTON, TEXAS – The litigation firm of Hendershot Cowart P.C., headquartered in Houston, Texas, successfully defended the Grant Road Public Utility District and its board members, in their official capacity, against claims of discrimination at both the trial and appellate court levels. Argued by Managing Shareholder Trey Hendershot and assisted by Shareholder Katie Cowart and Associate Raymond Panneton, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the Firm’s trial court judgment, upholding the trial court’s finding that the Grant Road Public Utility District did not intentionally discriminate against Providence Behavioral Health Center.

In 2015, Providence Behavioral Health and Texas Providence Investments (collectively “Providence”) sued the Grant Road Public Utility District, alleging intentional discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Fair Housing Act, and other related state and federal statutes. The underlying suit arose when Providence purchased a tract of land outside of the Grant Road Public Utility District (“Grant Road PUD”) to construct a private-pay psychiatric facility. After purchasing the land, but before construction began, Providence requested annexation by the Grant Road PUD in order to obtain water and waste water services. Ultimately, due to a presentation classified as “sloppy” and lacking the requisite detail, the Grant Road PUD denied the annexation request. The denial of annexation, Providence argued, was an act of intentional discrimination against Providence given their prospective patient population.

Ultimately, in December 2016, the dispute culminated in a three-day bench trial before the Honorable Alfred Bennett in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The Hendershot Cowart P.C. trial team presented substantive evidence, as well as rebuttal testimony sufficient to disprove Providence’s claims. After considering the evidence and the testimony presented at trial, Judge Bennett found in favor of the Grant Road PUD and entered a judgment dismissing Providence’s claims with prejudice.

Despite the trial court’s detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting its judgment, Providence appealed the matter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In oral arguments before Chief Judge Stewart, Judge Jones, and Judge Engelhardt, Managing Shareholder Trey Hendershot persuasively articulated to the panel the legal sufficiency of Judge Bennet’s trial court findings, as well as the factual support buttressing the same. Additionally, Mr. Hendershot was able to effectively address and respond to the arguments of Providence’s counsel at oral hearing.

On August 28, 2018, in a published opinion written by Chief Judge Stewart, the United States Court of Appeals fully affirmed the trial court’s judgment that the Grant Road PUD did not intentionally discriminate against Providence.

When asked about the victory, Mr. Hendershot opined “It is an exciting opportunity to be able to represent a client from intake, through trial, and through the appellate process. In doing so, our firm is able to become intimately involved with the legal and factual complexities of the case. This level of involvement and attention to detail is what allowed us to be successful in this matter.”

Hendershot Cowart P.C., PC is a full-service litigation firm located in the Galleria neighborhood of Houston, Texas. Representing clients in Texas and throughout the country, Hendershot Cowart P.C. ’s attorneys provide diligent and aggressive representation to their clients in state and federal courts, as well as before arbitration and administrative law panels.

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