Twelfth District Court of Appeals of Texas Affirms “Take Nothing” Judgment in Car Accident Case in Which Only Part of the Defendant’s Deposition Was Admitted at Trial

When people outside the legal field think about an east Texas car accident case, they may envision a courtroom scene with the parties giving their respective testimonies to a jury while a black-robed judge looks down from the bench, glaring at counsel when an objection is sustained.

The truth is, most cases don’t make it to trial. Both plaintiffs and defendants prefer to settle the issues outside court if at all possible. Trials are time-consuming, expensive, and risky.

Facts of the Case

In a case decided late last year by the Court of Appeals for the Twelfth District at Tyler (No. 12-17-00113-CV), the plaintiff was a woman who allegedly suffered injuries and property damage after her car was struck from behind by the defendant motorist’s automobile. The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a take-nothing judgment, the jury having assigned 51% of the fault in the accident to the plaintiff and 49% to the defendant.

The plaintiff’s appeal focused on the issue of whether the trial court should have admitted the defendant’s entire deposition, rather than only an excerpt from it, into evidence at trial.

Decision of the Twelfth Court of Appeals

The appellate court affirmed, first noting that the defendant did not attend the trial and was not called to testify either in person or by deposition by the plaintiff. At trial, the defendant’s attorney read a portion of the defendant’s deposition, and the plaintiff’s attorney was offered the opportunity for cross-examination of the deposition. The plaintiff’s attorney declined, and the judge proceeded with the jury charge. During the jury charge conference, the plaintiff’s attorney asked that the defendant’s deposition, as a whole, be admitted into evidence, but the judge refused.

The court found the plaintiff’s argument that she was “surprised” that the defendant did not appear at trial unavailing, observing that the defendant’s attorney had designated deposition excerpts he intended to use at trial some six months prior to the actual trial. The plaintiff’s failure to show that she attempted to present the defendant’s entire deposition at trial resulted in the court holding that she did not exercise due diligence. The court also found that the plaintiff failed to show that the additional evidence of the defendant’s deposition was “necessary to the administration of justice.”

An Experienced East Texas Car Accident Attorney

Most car accident lawsuits settle out of court. When a case does not reach an amicable settlement before trial, however, the plaintiff must be prepared to prove his or her case before the jury. This takes months – sometimes years – of preparation, typically including the taking of both discovery depositions and depositions for proof. Earl Drott Law has been serving car accident victims in east Texas for three decades, always approaching a case with the end result – success at trial – in mind. Call us at 903-531-9300 to schedule a free consultation.

Related Blog Posts:

Texas Court of Appeals Affirms $0 Damages Jury Verdict, Despite Defendant’s Admission of Fault

East Texas Appellate Court Says Car Accident Litigant Can’t Depose UM/UIM Adjuster Until She Has Judgment Against Responsible Motorist