In cases arising out of truck accidents, the parties will typically engage in discovery. Under Texas law, parties can seek information via discovery that will support their claims and defenses. Discovery cannot be used as a fishing expedition, however, and overbroad requests may be quashed, as illustrated in In re Contract Firefighters Inc. No. 21-0134, a case arising out of a truck collision. If you were hurt in a crash involving a tractor-trailer, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses, and you should meet with a Texas truck accident attorney to evaluate your potential claims.
Procedural History of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiffs suffered injuries in a collision with a commercial truck. They subsequently instituted negligence claims against the truck driver and the shipping company. The case proceeded to discovery, and the plaintiffs sought information regarding other truck accident lawsuits in which the company was named as a defendant and United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) records regarding accidents involving the company in all 50 states.
It is alleged that the company filed a motion to quash the request for information from the USDOT, while the plaintiffs filed a motion to compel the company to respond to their discovery requests. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion and denied the company’s. The company sought a writ of mandamus, which the appellate court denied. The company then filed a writ of mandamus petition in the Texas Supreme Court, after which the plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew their request and moved to dismiss the petition.
Grounds for Quashing Discovery Requests
The court denied the plaintiff’s motion, noting that their voluntary withdrawal of discovery requests did not mean that the mandamus petition was moot, as the issue of whether the plaintiff’s requests were overbroad was not resolved. Further, the court stated that the plaintiff could easily reinstitute their requests after the petition for writ of mandamus was dismissed.
The court then turned to the issue of whether the plaintiff’s requests were overbroad. The court explained that a discovery order that requires the production of information outside of the boundaries of appropriate discovery constitutes an abuse of discretion for which the proper remedy is a writ of mandamus. Whether discovery requests are overbroad is a separate issue from whether they are harassing or burdensome. Further, it is improper for a court to compel a party to answer overbroad requests for information that is irrelevant, regardless of whether the request is burdensome.
The court ultimately stated that the requests at issue were of the kind the court repeatedly rejected as improper fishing expeditions. Thus, it granted the writ of mandamus and directed the court to vacate the order granting the plaintiff’s motion to compel.
Speak to an Experienced Texas Attorney
Truck accidents frequently cause catastrophic injuries, and drivers that negligently cause such collisions should be held accountable. If you were harmed in a crash with a commercial truck, it is wise to speak to an attorney about your options for seeking damages, Earl Drott is an experienced Texas attorney with ample experience helping people injured in collisions in the pursuit of justice and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Drott through the online form or at 903-531-9300 to set up a free conference.