Logourl black

Bohatch v. Butler & Binion

Supreme Court of Texas
977 S.W.2d 543 (1998)


Facts

Colette Bohatch (plaintiff) was a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Butler & Binion. The office had two other attorneys, McDonald and Powers, both partners. Almost all of the D.C. office’s work was done for Pennzoil. In 1990, based on her review of billing reports and time records, Bohatch began to suspect that McDonald was overbilling Pennzoil. She reported her concerns to Powers, and to other partners and members of Butler & Binion’s management committee. The management committee investigated the allegations. Pennzoil’s in-house counsel told committee members that Pennzoil believed McDonald’s bills to be reasonable. The management committee determined that there was no basis for Bohatch’s allegation that McDonald was overbilling. In January 1991 Butler & Binion denied Bohatch her year-end partnership distribution, and reduced her tentative distribution share for 1991 to zero. It continued to pay Bohatch her monthly draw until June 1991. On October 21, 1991 the firm voted to expel Bohatch from the partnership. Bohatch brought claims against Butler & Binion and its partners (the firm) (defendants) for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. The jury found that the firm breached the partnership agreement and its fiduciary duty, and awarded damages. The court of appeals found that the firm’s only duty to Bohatch was not to expel her in bad faith, that is, for self-gain. Finding no evidence that the firm had expelled her for self-gain, the court of appeals found that Bohatch could not recover on the breach of fiduciary duty claim. The court of appeals also found that the firm breached the partnership agreement by reducing Bohatch’s tentative distribution for 1991 to zero without notice, and for terminating her monthly draw three months before she left the firm.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Enoch, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Concurrence (Hecht, J.)

The concurrence section is for members only and includes a summary of the concurring judge or justice’s opinion. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Dissent (Spector, J.)

The dissent section is for members only and includes a summary of the dissenting judge or justice’s opinion. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 94,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,592 briefs - keyed to 169 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now