Baker Hughes, Inc. v. Keco R. & D., Inc
In Baker Hughes, Inc. v. Keco R. & D., Inc., 12 S.W.3d 1 (Tex. 1999), the legislature had enacted a three-year statute of limitations for trade secret appropriation claims after the two-year statute had already passed as to the plaintiff's claims. 12 S.W.3d. at 3-4.
The new statute of limitations also adopted the application of the discovery rule to trade secret appropriations claims. Id. at 3.
Although the enabling legislation purported to apply the new statute of limitations to actions pending at the time it was passed in which the trial had not yet begun, the supreme court held that the defendant, Baker Hughes, was entitled to rely on the two-year statute of limitations because it had vested before the new, extended statute of limitations was passed. Id.
The supreme court had also previously determined that the discovery rule did not apply under the two-year limitations statute. Id. at 4-5.
The Texas supreme court reaffirmed "settled law" that, "after a cause has become barred by the statute of limitation, the defendant has a vested right to rely on such statute as a defense."
The court continued, "To permit barred claims to be revived years later would undermine society's interest in repose, which is one of the principal justifications for statutes of limitations." Id.
The court explained, "We have written that a statute extending the limitations period of a claim already barred by limitations violates the Texas Constitution's prohibition against retroactive laws, which is article I, section 16." Id.