—-On Feb. 12, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court issued Misc. Docket No. 13-9022, its Final Approval of Rules for Dismissals and Expedited Actions. This is important so you must go to the Supreme Court website, print the Order and study it. Rule of Civil Procedure 91a and Rule of Evidence 902(10)(c) apply to all cases, including those pending on March 1, 2013. Rule of Civil Procedure 169 and the amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure 47 and 190 apply to cases filed on or after 3/1/13. Rule 78a of TRCP was also revised re a civil case information sheet effective for cases filed on or after 3/1/13.
New Rule 91a provides, “Except in a case brought under the Family Code or a case governed by Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a party may move to dismiss a cause of action on the grounds that it has no basis in law or fact.” Rule 91a also goes into detail on how to file a motion to dismiss a baseless cause of action. New Rule 190.2 does apply to some divorces (see below).
New TRCP Rule 169, Expedited Actions says, “The expedited actions process in this rule applies to a suit in which all claimants, other than counter-claimants, affirmatively plead that they seek only monetary relief aggregating $100,000 or less, including damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees.” Rule 169(a)(1). The expedited actions process does not apply to suits under the Family Code, Property Code, Tax Code or Chapter 74(medical liability) of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Rule 169(a)(2). A court must remove a suit from the expedited process (A) on motion and a showing of good cause by any party; or (B) if any claimant, other than a counter-claimant, files a pleading or an amended or supplemental pleading that seeks any relief other than the monetary relief allowed by (a)(1). Rule 169(c).
TRCP 169(d)(4)(A) states, “Unless the parties have agreed not to engage in alternative dispute resolution, the court may refer the case to an alternative dispute resolution procedure once, and the procedure must: (i) not exceed a half-day in duration, excluding scheduling time; (ii) not exceed a total cost of twice the amount of the applicable civil filing fees; and (iii) be completed no later than 60 days before the initial trial setting.” TRCP(d)(4)(c) says that the parties may agree to engage in ADR other than that provided for in TRCP(d)(4)(A).
The prior draft of new Rule 169 said, unless the parties agreed to ADR or a contract required it, a court could not order the parties to ADR. Plaintiff and Defense Groups, as well as Mediator Groups opposed the prior draft and convinced the Texas Supreme Court to revise the language from “a court shall not refer to case to ADR, to “….the court may refer the case to an alternative dispute resolution procedure…”. This time when the Texas Supreme Court asked for input, the Court got it and listened.
The Supreme Court Order also revised TRCP Rule 190.2, Discovery Control Plan-Expedited Actions and Divorces Involving $50,000 or Less (Level 1), not involving children. TRCP 190.2(b)(1) says the discovery period starts when suit is filed and continues not until 30 days before the date set for trial, but until 180 days after the date the first request for discovery of any kind is served on a party; (3) the rule allowing only 25 interrogatories was changed to 15; (4) A party may not serve more than 15 written requests for production and (5) no more than 15 written requests for admission; (6) “In addition to the content subject to disclosure under Rule 194.2, a party may request disclosure of all documents, electronic information, and tangible items that the disclosing party has in its possession, custody or control and may use to support its claims or defenses. A request for disclosure made pursuant to this paragraph is not considered a request for production.”