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In re Trident Steel Corp.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

January 21, 2014

IN RE TRIDENT STEEL CORPORATION, RELATOR

Page 127

Before QUINN, C.J. and CAMPBELL and HANCOCK, JJ.

OPINION

Brian Quinn Chief Justice.

Page 128

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

In this original proceeding, Trident Steel Corporation (Trident) contends the trial court abused its discretion in 1) striking Trident's Fifth Amended Answer sua sponte, and 2) refusing, in response to Trident's Texas Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12 Motion, to require legal counsel for Mewbourne Oil Company (Mewbourne) to show their authority to represent all the parties they purport to represent. Trident seeks to have us order the trial court to rescind its orders with respect to these matters and conduct a hearing on the effort to strike the answer. We grant the petition in part and deny it in part.

Background

Via a suit commenced in 2008, Mewbourne sought to recover damages arising from purportedly defective well casing supplied by Trident. The casing was inserted in a well operated by Mewbourne. The latter initially served as the only plaintiff. However, in October of 2012, the plaintiff filed a Second Amended Petition describing the plaintiff as itself " individually and as representative of the affected leasehold interests." The " affected leasehold interests" it purported to represent were not identified. This led to Trident requesting and obtaining leave to file a fifth amended answer on March 18, 2013. In it, the party averred, for the first time, that limitations had expired on any claims of the " leasehold interests" and that Mewbourne lacked standing and the capacity to represent or recover on behalf of those same " interests." [1]

Trident then moved for summary judgment on the basis of limitations. Upon hearing the motion on June 20, 2013, the trial court not only denied it but also struck the fifth amended answer, though no one requested the court to undertake the latter act. Thereafter, Trident moved under Rule 12 of the Rules of Civil Procedure for Mewbourne to show its authority to represent the " leasehold interests" alluded to in its petition. That motion was denied, as well.

The Law and Its Application

Mandamus will issue only when there has been a clear abuse of discretion or violation of a duty imposed by law and the petitioner lacks an adequate remedy at law. In re Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004). With this in mind, we address Trident's arguments.

Rule 12

Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 12 provides that a " party in a suit or proceeding pending in a court of this state may, by sworn written motion stating that he believes ...


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