Our legal system gives us the right to resolve disputes in civil courts. Citizens and businesses count on this right to address alleged wrongdoings. However, along with this right most times plaintiffs have had to wait more than one year to achieve resolution of the dispute. Request for production; interrogatories, depositions, motions, etc.…. time consuming for all….and costly. This memo should be welcome news.
Recently the Texas Supreme Court amended a few rules of civil procedure with the goal of reducing the time and the costs associated with litigation. These amendments are important to the citizens and the business community for two reasons: (1) they simplify important steps of the litigation process when a plaintiff is seeking $100,000 or less in damages; and (2) they discourage the filing of frivolous or baseless causes of action. The overall the goal of the amendments is to try to cause people to closely evaluate their options prior to filing a lawsuit. The Court realized citizens are fed up with fraudulent or baseless lawsuits.
One of the new rules, titled “Expedited Actions,” was added by the Court to govern all suits in which monetary relief of $100,000 or less is sought by the plaintiff. The new expedited action rule does not apply to a claim under the Family Code, the Property Code, the Tax Code, or a healthcare liability claim. Under another new rule, discovery is significantly restricted. Discovery is the process used to obtain information from an opponent before trial. Also, the amendments make it possible for an expedited action to be filed and tried in less than a year by ordering that a court set an expedited action for trial within 90 days after the discovery process ends. And once trial begins, each side will be limited to five hours to try its case. Based on our experience we are confident that these new rules will make it more cost-effective for the citizens to litigate cases.
In addition, the Court created a procedure called, the “Dismissal of Baseless Causes of Action.” This new rule is important as it allows a party to ask a court to dismiss a cause of action on the grounds that it has no basis in law or fact. This rule is intended to prevent a plaintiff from alleging an arguably baseless lawsuit and hoping a court will allow it to continue to waste time and have the opponent incur unnecessary legal fees. If a claim is dismissed as baseless, the losing party must pay the prevailing party for the costs and attorney’s fees it incurred in defending the frivolous cause of action.
As a law firm which represents individuals and companies, we commend the Court for the wisdom of these amendments which should benefit all citizens.
This information is not intended to address every aspect of the new court rules. If you have questions about these new rules or business litigation, please contact:
Mark A. Alexander
5080 Spectrum Suite 850
Addison, Texas 75001