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In re Santiago

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

March 15, 2017

IN RE PAULA JIMENEZ SANTIAGO AND MARLENE A. DOUGHERTY

         On Petition for Writ of Mandamus.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Rodriguez and Hinojosa

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LETICIA HINOJOSA Justice [1]

         By petition for writ of mandamus Paula Jimenez Santiago and Marlene A. Dougherty seek to vacate a November 17, 2016 order requiring them to pay a monetary sanction of $6, 799.44 to the real parties in interest and also seek to vacate the February 27, 2017 order denying reconsideration of the sanction order.[2] Relators have filed a motion for emergency stay seeking to stay the proceedings below pending resolution of this original proceeding.

         Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy. In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., L.P., 492 S.W.3d 300, 302 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). Mandamus relief is proper to correct a clear abuse of discretion when there is no adequate remedy by appeal. In re Christus Santa Rosa Health Sys., 492 S.W.3d 276 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding). The relator bears the burden of proving both of these requirements. In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., L.P., 492 S.W.3d at 302; Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex.1992) (orig. proceeding). An abuse of discretion occurs when a trial court's ruling is arbitrary and unreasonable or is made without regard for guiding legal principles or supporting evidence. In re Nationwide Ins. Co. of Am., 494 S.W.3d 708, 712 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding); Ford Motor Co. v. Garcia, 363 S.W.3d 573, 578 (Tex. 2012). We determine the adequacy of an appellate remedy by balancing the benefits of mandamus review against the detriments. In re Essex Ins. Co., 450 S.W.3d 524, 528 (Tex. 2014) (orig. proceeding); In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124, 136 (Tex. 2004)) (orig. proceeding).

         A trial court's ruling on a motion for sanctions is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard. Cire v. Cummings, 134 S.W.3d 835, 838 (Tex. 2004). Monetary sanctions are generally not subject to mandamus because they can be properly reviewed on appeal from a final judgment. Braden v. Downey, 811 S.W.2d 922, 928-29 (Tex. 1991); In re Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 08-15-00126-CV, 2016 WL 7230399, at *7, ___S.W.3d ___, ___ (Tex. App.-El Paso Dec. 14, 2016, orig. proceeding); In re Noble Drilling (Jim Thompson), L.L.C., 449 S.W.3d 625, 632 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2014, orig. proceeding); In re Onstad, 20 S.W.3d 731, 732-33 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 2000, orig. proceeding); In re Lavernia Nursing Facility, 12 S.W.3d 566, 571-72 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1999, orig. proceeding). However, where monetary sanctions threaten the party's willingness or ability to continue the litigation, remedy by appeal is inadequate. Braden, 811 S.W.2d at 929; In re Onstad, 20 S.W.3d at 733; In re Lavernia Nursing Facility, Inc., 12 S.W.3d at 571. When a litigant contends that a monetary sanction precludes access to the court, the trial court must either (1) provide that the sanction is payable only at a date that coincides with or follows entry of a final order terminating the litigation; or (2) make express written findings, after a prompt hearing, as to why the award does not have such a preclusive effect. Braden, 811 S.W.2d at 929; Galindo v. Prosperity Partners, Inc., 429 S.W.3d 690, 697 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2014, pet. denied); In re Onstad, 20 S.W.3d at 733; In re Lavernia Nursing Facility, Inc., 12 S.W.3d at 571.

         The Court, having examined and fully considered the petition for writ of mandamus, the record, and the applicable law, is of the opinion that relators have not shown themselves entitled to the relief sought in this cause. While relators contend that the award of sanctions threaten their ability to move forward with the litigation, the record in this proceeding is insufficiently developed to assess whether a remedy by appeal is inadequate. Accordingly, we DENY the petition for writ of mandamus and the motion for emergency stay without prejudice. See Tex. R. App. P. 52.8(a). We GRANT relator's emergency motion to withdraw the mandamus appendices.

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Notes:

[1] See Tex. R. App. P. 52.8(d) ("When granting relief, the court must hand down an opinion as in any other case, " but when "denying relief, the court may hand down an opinion but is not required to do so."); Tex.R.App.P. 47.4 (distinguishing opinions and memorandum opinions).

[2] This cause arises from trial court cause number 2015-DCL-06711 in the 445th District Court of Cameron County. The real parties in this proceeding are identified as Manuel E. Solis Jr. a/k/a Manuel Solis a/k/a Manuel Solis Law Firm d/b/a Law Office of Manuel Solis d/b/a Oficinas Juridicas del Abogado Manuel Solis d/b/a Despacho Juridico de Manuel Solis d/b/a Law Offices of Manuel E. ...


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