The First Court of Appeals granted mandamus relief to Valero Refining, vacating a discovery order compelling the company to produce highly confidential business and financial information about its Galveston County refinery operations in a property tax dispute with the Galveston Central Appraisal District (GCAD).
Conceding the trade-secret status of the information at issue, GCAD contended that it needed the highly sensitive information in order to value Valero’s refinery property using the income method of appraisal. The court disagreed, holding that access to Valero‘s trade secrets was not essential to a fair adjudication because GCAD could employ two other appraisal methods (the cost and sales approaches), neither of which required access to any of Valero’s trade secrets.
Reagan Simpson argued the mandamus in the First Court, and Chris Ward and April Farris briefed the mandamus petition. Valero was co-represented by Mark Hutcheson, David Hugin, and Melissa Ramirez of Popp Hutcheson PLLC .