Fleming Foods of Texas, Inc. v. Rylander – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Fleming Foods of Texas, Inc. v. Rylander, 6 S.W.3d 278 (Tex. 1999), the Texas Supreme Court held that an express change in the prior terms of a statute by the Legislature upon recodification overrides contrary language in the prior version of the statute regardless of a general provision in the Code stating that recodification is not intended to make substantive changes in the law. See 6 S.W.3d at 283-84.

The supreme court explained:

Under the Code Construction Act, see TEX. GOV'T CODE §§ 311.001-.032, . . . courts may consider prior law, the circumstances under which the law was enacted, and legislative history among other matters to aid them in construing a code provision "whether or not the statute is considered ambiguous on its face," TEX. GOV'T CODE ANN. § 311.023. But prior law and legislative history cannot be used to alter or disregard the express terms of a code provision when its meaning is clear from the code when considered in its entirety, unless there is an error such as a typographical one. Nor can the Code Construction Act's directive to the Legislative Council to refrain from changing the sense, meaning, or effect of a previous statute, see id. § 323.007(b), be used as a basis to alter the express terms of a code that the Legislature enacts as law even when the Council's language does change the prior, repealed law. (6 S.W.3d at 283-84.)

The court then instructed that the Legislature's general statement that "no substantive change in the law is intended" by recodification "must be considered with the clear, specific language used" in the recodified sections. Id. at 284.