Trial Court Should Not Have Splintered Truck Accident Wrongful Death Case Into Three Separate Lawsuits, According to Texas Court of Appeals

Legal News GavelThere are many issues that must be taken into consideration in an east Texas truck accident case. Who are the proper defendants? What are the claims against each? Which court has jurisdiction and venue over the defendants and/or the claims?

Sometimes, issues of venue (i.e., the appropriate court in which a given case should be heard) can complicate an otherwise straightforward case. This is especially true in cases involving corporate defendants.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered by the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Texas (No. 09-18-00064-CV ), the plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit was the mother of a seven-year-old child who died in a motor vehicle accident in 2016. At the time of the crash, the boy was riding in a truck driven by his father, allegedly during the course and scope of the father’s employment with a certain company. The collision also involved an 18-wheeler driven by another man, who was also allegedly acting in the course and scope of his employment with a second company.

The mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both drivers and both companies, asserting that the county in which the case was filed was the proper venue because one of the corporate defendants had its principal office there. The trial court transferred venue as to some of the defendants and severed those claims from the original action, effectively splintering the original wrongful death action into three separate lawsuits.

The father filed a mandamus proceeding asking the appellate court to decide whether the trial court had abused its discretion in severing the plaintiff’s action into three separate lawsuits.

Decision of the Court

The appellate court held that the lower tribunal had clearly abused its discretion, insofar as the plaintiff’s claims against the four defendants (the father, the truck driver, and the two companies for which they worked) arose from a single collision. Since the ordinary appeals process would require the defendant to wait until all three trials had concluded, and this would not adequately cure the harm caused to the defendant father by the trial court’s severance orders, the appellate court found that mandamus relief was the appropriate remedy.

In so holding, the court pointed out that even the trial court had recognized the burden that splintering the actions would create, and that could potentially “create a procedural and logistical nightmare” because there would be different trials in different counties regarding the conduct of the same parties in the same accident.

Get Advice About Your East Texas Car Wreck Case

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a motorist, trucker, business, or other entity, you should speak to an experienced east Texas wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Such cases can be complicated and typically take a considerable amount of time, money, and skill to properly prepare for trial. For a free case evaluation, call Earl Drott Law at 903-531-9300. There is no charge for the appointment, and most cases are handled on a contingency contract so that fees are not due until your case is settled or results in a favorable judgment at trial.

Related Blog Posts:

Texas Court Holds That Injured Driver is Limited to Recovery of Actual Losses in Accident Case Involving Multiple Insurance Companies

Texas Court Denies Mandamus Relief to Trucker and Trucking Company That Sought Leave to Designate “Responsible Third Party” in Accident Case