Friday, July 26, 2013


"...BISD filed nothing. The old adage comes to mind that you can lead a horse to water, tell him to take a drink, give him extra time to drink, but you still cannot make him drink."
(Federal Judge Andrew Hanen on then-Brownsville Independent School District contract lawyer Baltazar Salazar's repeated failure to respond to insurance company's motions for summary judgment even after the court bent "over backwards" to make him do it over the mold problem at Aiken and Besteiro elementary schools.) From a Rrun-Rrun post on April, 2013

By Juan Montoya
In their rush to fire the existing legal counsel, a majority of the Brownsville Independent School District chose Houston's Baltazar Salazar to be the district's legal counsel.
But did anyone in the majority do their due diligence in evaluating the new legal eagle?
Otis Powers, Enrique Escobedo, Jose Chirinos, and Minerva Peña could have easily googled his name on the Besteiro and Aiken mold problem and found the legal citations that would have repulsed them and prevented  them from entering into a contract with his firm.
He was chosen as outside counsel to help out the BISD by former district legal counsel Mike Saldaña. Otis Powers was a board member at the time. The agent of record for the insurance company was none other than the late Johnny Cavazos.
The BISD sued Royal Supplies Lines Inc.Co. in United States District Court in Brownsville to pay for the damages after several hundred students and teachers claimed they had been injured by the presence of mold.
In the case ( No. CIV.A. B-03-109), representing the BISD was none other than Salazar, who successfully sought the censure of trustee Catalina Presas-Garcis and failed to get a censure of trustee Lucy Longoria Tuesday. Along the way, he accused Presas-Garcia of sexual harassment and of inviting him to spend "two nights together" so he could really get to know her.
Let's be charitable.
To put it bluntly, Salazar's performance in defending the district in the mold case – in the opinion of the court – was dismal, "feeble," and totally incompetent. His performance resulted in the district paying thousands of dollars in personal injury damages to the plaintiffs.
In fact, Salazar – despite repeated efforts from the court to give him more time and directing the manner of responding – failed to file any response to two of the motions for summary judgment from Royal Supplies Line and the one he did file was not "competent," according to the court order. He lost all three judgments.
Federal Judge Andrew Hanen stated this exchange in his summary of the decision:

HANEN, District Judge;
Before this Court are three motions for summary judgment filed by the plaintiff, Royal Surplus Lines Insurance Company ("Royal" or "Plaintiff"). Each will be discussed in greater detail below but, suffice it to say, each seeks a judgment that Royal is not liable to the defendant, Brownsville Independent School District ("BISD"), for damages suffered by BISD due to the presence of mold at two of its schools: Bruce Aiken Elementary School ("Aiken") and Raul Besteiro Middle School ("Besteiro"). Despite warnings by the Court and a direct order setting a deadline, BISD has not filed a response to two of the three motions. Also, despite warnings from the Court, including an admonition to supplement its sole response, and the issuance of a firm deadline, the one response filed was not supplemented to provide the Court with any competent summary judgment evidence that raises an issue of material fact. That being the case, the Court hereby GRANTS all three of Royal's summary judgment motions.
Other short snippets of the decision give you an indication of the total incompetency demonstrated by Salazar in his representation of the BISD. For example:
"On May 17, 2004, Royal filed its first motion for summary judgment [Docket No. 42] to which BISD replied on June 3, 2004 [Docket No. 45]. Royal filed two more summary judgment motions on June 10, 2004 [Docket Nos. 47, 49], as well as a reply to BISD's response [Docket No. 50]. The Court then held a hearing on June 27, 2004, to address all outstanding motions. The Court at that time gave Royal until October 29, 2004, to supplement any pending motions for summary judgment, and BISD until November 19, 2004, to file its responses. See Docket No. 60. This Court made it clear that it intended to act upon these motions by the end of 2004. Royal complied by filing its supplemental motions on October 29, 2004 [Docket Nos. 76, 77, 78]. BISD filed nothing."

"This Court, concerned that an inadequate response had been filed to the first summary judgment motion and that no responses had been filed to the other two, instead of ruling, elected to hold yet another hearing on the motions.
Prior to that hearing, on January 19, 2005, BISD filed a motion to continue the hearing, which was eventually held on January 24, 2005. At that hearing, the Court with all counsel present told the parties in no uncertain terms: (1) that despite the fact that Royal's second two summary judgment motions were ripe for the Court's decision, BISD had not responded to them and (2) that the reply to the first motion for summary judgment was inadequate, i.e., that it contained no deposition testimony, affidavits, or other competent (authenticated) summary judgment evidence that raised a material fact issue in this case. 
Counsel for BISD acknowledged that he had not responded to two of the three dispositive motions. When the Court reminded him that the motions could have already been granted, counsel responded by saying "we don't feel like it's time."
 Further, when counsel for BISD suggested he had experts that would show this Court why the policy exclusions did not apply, this Court immediately asked ". . . do I have an affidavit that says that, because I don't think I do or summary judgment evidence in any form?"
Later the following exchange occurred:

"THE COURT: But be that as it may, I mean, Mr. Salazar [attorney for BISD], do we have any summary judgment testimony? Forget about the bad faith issue for a minute. I mean — and forget — kind of forget about the legal basis for some of Royal's motions. Let me talk about the factual basis for their motion.
They're basically saying that this is all excluded and that you have no summary judgment proof — evidence that gets you by the factual basis that throws them under their exclusions. Now, I may be talking about exclusions; I may be talking about coverage issues, but I'm using those interchangeably. I'm not using them as a form [term] of art.
But is anybody going to come in, any expert, engineer, construction guru, mold guru? Because right now I don't have anything that controverts their summary judgment.

MR. SALAZAR: If I may, Your Honor. I believe that there's plenty in the record. If one looks at the EFI records, the reports, and the same reports that they've used, the EFI reports that say this was caused because of high humidity, those are the same reports that we're going to rely on. It just depends on how the court looks at them.

THE COURT: Well, wait, wait, wait. Is any of that in summary judgment evidence form?

MR. SALAZAR: On behalf of the school district? Yes, Your Honor. We filed a response.

THE COURT: Sworn to?

MR. SALAZAR: It was in the deposition of EFI, yes, Your Honor.


MR. SALAZAR: The problem is that the EFI depositions were taken after we responded to the summary judgment.

THE COURT: Okay. Well, let me strongly suggest that you look at your response, because I don't think anything is in summary judgment form. I don't think there's anything that's summary judgment evidence. I mean, it's got to be sworn to in some form.

MR. SALAZAR: We understand that, Your Honor. And those depositions from EFI were taken after we responded to the summary judgment, and we have not placed them in affidavit form.

THE COURT: Okay. Well, that's what I mean. So I can't consider them.

MR. SALAZAR: Not at this point, Your Honor.

THE COURT: All right.

MR. BROWN: [Counsel for Royal] I would say, Your Honor, that some of the EFI testimony we've attached by way of supplementation to our motions, so it's out there. The deposition testimony has been taken in the case."

There was no response to the Celotex motion nor any response to the bad faith motion.
Much to the chagrin of Royal's counsel, the Court chose to give BISD one more chance to file an adequate response to the first summary judgment motion and any response at all to the other two. It continued the consideration of these motions yet again and ordered BISD to file responses to these motions by April 29, 2005. See Docket No. 90. The Court went one step further and urged both sides:
". . . in all the other summary judgments and responses thereto, make sure they comply with the rules, evidentiary. I mean an unsworn to report or segment of a report is not summary judgment evidence that I can consider.
I would strongly suggest, you know, if you have a good piece of evidence that says, hey, this is where the water comes from, this is why we have coverage that you . . . succinctly put it out for me where I can match it up with the policy exclusions that Mr. Brown is claiming that he doesn't have coverage for . . . so I'm looking at apples to apples and oranges to oranges as opposed to trying to cross-reference why this works.
Finally in closing, the Court told the parties to look at their responses and make sure that the items they were relying on were proven up in some fashion.

Following that discussion in which the Court practically set out for BISD the form in which its responses should be filed, pointed out the need for a better response on one motion, and pointed out the need for some kind of response on the other two, BISD filed nothing! Royal filed a supplemental summary judgment motion containing numerous affidavits which establish the competence of and/or authenticated many of the exhibits it had attached to its prior motions. Even after this was filed, BISD filed nothing. The old adage comes to mind that you can lead a horse to water, tell him to take a drink, give him extra time to drink, but you still cannot make him drink. This Court cannot make a non-movant file a complete response (or any response for that matter) to a summary judgment motion, but it can grant the motions."

(If you, dear reader, have not had enough, I strongly suggest you click on the link provided above to savor the full sordid story of our new BISD counsel's performance. We're back to the same old stuff we thought we had left behind, aren't we?)


Anonymous said...


don quixote y sancho panza said...

Does the texas bar really really check into these complaints on the attornies or do they look the other way or se asen pepes only, i wonder???? cuz if this clown was no good before, what makes the majority of the bisd board think that now 8 years later he is a super attorney or think he will do better job now? not not not or do we have a bunch of puro forrest gumps on the board? low very low IQ? you tell me?????

monkey shines said...

wells folks its likethey say, you get what you pay for, and this is one of those situations or cases, pura caca doodle doo.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you hear the expression of someone acting like " judge, jury and prosecutor. " This looks like a case of judge also trying to be plaintiff's attorney.
Summary judgment for the prosecution: BAD ATTORNEY

Anonymous said...

I do not see any of the board members acting on behalf of the students and staff. All I see is petty fighting with egos driving every action. It is beyond ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

BISD consistently adheres to the old adage....."If you want something badly, that's exactly what you get." Nothing "good" consistently comes out of BISD, but the Trustees continue to keep their hands out for the money they get for pimping the district out to their "favorites" (those will to provide kickbacks).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
BISD consistently adheres to the old adage....."If you want something badly, that's exactly what you get." Nothing "good" consistently comes out of BISD, but the Trustees continue to keep their hands out for the money they get for pimping the district out to their "favorites" (those will to provide kickbacks).

Anonymous said...

Obviously Immorality is a democrat value…….Just look at all of them.

Anonymous said...

How could this lawyer defend BISD when a few years before he was going to sue BISD for the Hanna teachers that had been exposed to mold?

Oh I get it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He used that as leverage to squirm his way into the deep pockets of BISD taxpayers.

Puro scrape.

Dante said...

Gee whiz juan, is it me or does this salazar guy picture looks like that character in the movie JFK "Clay Shaw" played by tommy lee jones???? i rest my case your honor.