The Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee has finalized a proposal for rules for motions to dismiss in the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Meanwhile, the committee may begin discussions in January about rules for expedited trials.
David Peeples (pictured), the chairman of the subcommittee that drafted the motion-to-dismiss rules, says it’s now up to the Texas Supreme Court to review the proposal, make necessary changes and adopt the final rules.
After hours of discussion on Dec. 9 about how the rules should define a claim with “no basis in law or fact,” the committee voted to include language that reads, “On motion a court must dismiss a claim that has no basis in fact or that is not supported by existing law or by a reasonable argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law.”
The proposal also lays out rules for what information a motion must include, the process for a court to decide a motion, a party’s right to amend its pleading, the award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party and more.
“I’m kind of hoping my part’s done, and the committee’s part is done too,” says Peeples, presiding judge of the 4th Administrative Judicial Region in Bexar County.
But the process is still underway for the expedited-trial rules. Former Chief Justice Thomas Phillips, who chairs the Task Force for Rules in Expedited Civil Actions, says his group plans to meet for the last time Dec. 16 and wants to present a draft to the advisory committee in mid January.
He told the advisory committee that one main debate in his task force is whether an expedited trial should be voluntary or mandatory. The task force split into two groups to create two proposals: one set of rules for voluntary expedited trials and one for mandatory expedited trials.
The group also debated whether the $100,000 cap must include awards of attorney’s fees and pre- and post-judgment interest, and it discussed whether to draft a rule prohibiting judges from allowing cases set for expedited trials to enter mediation.
“That has drawn the ire of large groups of mediators but not all of them,” said Phillips, a partner in Baker Botts in Austin.
-- Angela Morris