Kinsel v. Lindsey, 526 S.W.3d 411 (Tex. 2017).


Tortious Interference With Inheritance Rights


A jury found that Defendants were liable for tortiously interfering with their inheritance rights. The trial court then awarded damages as well as other remedies in an attempt to undo the interference. Defendants appealed not on the ground that their conduct was not tortious, but rather that the tort is not recognized as a cause of action.


The appellate court agreed and reversed. Jackson Walker v. Kinsel, No. 07-13-00130-CV, 2015 WL 2085220 (Tex. App.—Amarillo, Apr. 10, 2015). The court based its holding on the fact that neither the Supreme Court of Texas nor the Fort Worth Court of Appeals have expressly recognized the tort.  [The case was transferred from the Fort Worth Court to the Amarillo Court by the Supreme Court of Texas as part of its docket equalization efforts.]


A strong dissent pointed out that six of the Texas intermediate appellate courts have recognized the tort including the Amarillo court. In addition, six other courts, including the Fort Worth court, have discussed the tort without rejecting it.


The Supreme Court of Texas affirmed. The court reviewed the prior cases and explained that they did not show that the court had previously recognized the tort. Admitting some lower courts have recognized the tort, the court declined to recognize the tort because the plaintiffs already had an adequate remedy, a constructive trust imposed on the disputed inheritance, and thus the court was “not persuaded to consider it here.” (emphasis added). Accordingly, the issue remains open.


Moral:  Litigators in Texas will need to wait for another case to reach the Supreme Court of Texas to ascertain whether tortious interference with inheritance rights is a viable cause of action.