Texas Court Denies Mandamus Relief to Defendants Who Sought Dismissal of 2010 Car Accident Case

There are many issues of timeliness in an east Texas car accident case. First, there is the statute of limitations, which governs the time the injured party has to file his or her claim in court. The statute of repose may also come into play if there is a product liability claim or medical malpractice claim that is part of the car accident case. The time for filing notice of a claim with the government may also be relevant if one of the defendants is a governmental entity.

Once suit is filed, there are many additional deadlines that must be met, including discovery deadlines and time limits on the filing of certain pre-trial motions. While there is not an absolute deadline that says when a trial must occur, the best course of action is to get to trial as soon as possible once the plaintiff has been released from medical care and discovery has been completed. Otherwise, it is possible that the defendant will file a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution, unnecessarily complicating matters and causing additional delay.

Facts of the Case

In a case (No. 09-18-00072-CV) recently decided by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District of Texas, the plaintiff in the underlying proceeding filed suit against the defendants in 2010, seeking compensation for damages resulting from injuries suffered in a 2008 motor vehicle accident. In early 2018, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case for want of prosecution or, alternatively, for a continuance. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss but granted the motion for a continuance, allowing the defendants to re-depose the plaintiff and setting a July 2018 trial date. The defendants sought a writ of mandamus from the appellate court.

The Court’s Holding

Although the defendants argued that the trial court had clearly abused its discretion by denying their motion to dismiss for want of prosecution, the appeals court denied the writ of mandamus sought by the defendants. The appellate court noted that mandamus relief is only available when 1) there has been a clear abuse of discretion by the trial court, and 2) the party seeking mandamus relief has no adequate remedy by appeal. In deciding whether or not to grant mandamus relief, a reviewing court must decide whether there will be an irreversible waste of resources (both judicial and public) if mandamus is not granted.

Here, the plaintiff’s counsel appeared in court and gave an explanation as to why the case had not been prosecuted. The trial court apparently accepted this explanation, concluding that the plaintiff had not abandoned her case or shown a conscious indifference to her legal rights. There was no indication that the plaintiff had failed to respond to requests for discovery, and she had designated witnesses and provided medical records to the defendants prior to their motion to dismiss for want of prosecution. Since the reason for the delay in getting the case to trial was that both the plaintiff’s counsel and the court had inadvertently lost track of the case, the appellate court found no “clear abuse of discretion” by the trial court.

Get Help with an East Texas Car Accident Lawsuit

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you need to assert your legal rights in a timely fashion. To schedule an appointment with a board-certified east Texas car accident attorney, call Earl Drott Law today at 903-531-9300. Our offices are located in Tyler, and we serve all of Smith County and the surrounding area.

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