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Jones v. Quiroga

Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana

August 3, 2017


          Date Submitted: June 26, 2017

         On Appeal from the County Court Titus County, Texas Trial Court No. C01990

          Before Morriss, C.J., Moseley and Burgess, JJ.



         As the result of an automobile accident between Iliana Gonzalez Quiroga and Mack Gwen Jones in Mount Pleasant, Quiroga sued and has obtained a judgment against Jones for $7, 800.00. Of that sum, $7, 405.50 was for expenses incurred with three medical providers, and $394.50 was for lost wages and tips.

         This case comes to us with a unique situation. This relatively small case was tried in a bench trial that focused on just two issues: which of the two drivers was at fault and the amounts of the resulting damages. It is also apparent that Quiroga relied on the business-records affidavit attached to each of the three sets of medical bills to provide evidence that the related medical expenses were necessary, were reasonable, and were provided either immediately after, or soon after, the accident, thus providing some evidence of causation. Beyond those affidavits, nothing in the record provides evidence of the necessity, reasonableness, or causation of the expenses. This appeal is presented to us on the sole claim that Quiroga's three medical-expense exhibits were improperly admitted into evidence as business records and that, therefore, $7, 405.50 of the judgment is improper. We modify the judgment by deleting $7, 405.50 of the damage award and affirm the remainder of the judgment as so modified, because (1) Jones preserved error regarding the admission of the three exhibits, (2) admitting the three medical-expense exhibits was error, and (3) harm resulted from admitting the three exhibits.

         (1) Jones Preserved Error Regarding the Admission of the Three Exhibits

         Quiroga claims that Jones failed to preserve this issue for our review. Rule 33.1 of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure states,

As a prerequisite to presenting a complaint for appellate review, the record must show that:
(1) the complaint was made to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion that:
(A) stated the grounds for the ruling that the complaining party sought from the trial court with sufficient specificity to make the trial court aware of the complaint, unless the specific grounds were apparent from the context; and. . . .
(2) the trial court:
(A) ruled on the request, objection, or motion, either expressly or implicitly; or
(B) refused to rule on the request, objection, or motion, and the complaining party objected to the refusal.

Tex. R. App. P. 33.1. Thus, an objection must be specific enough to allow the trial court to understand the exact nature of the alleged error, and it must be interposed at such a point in the proceedings to allow the trial court to cure the alleged error, if any. Beall v. Ditmore, 867 S.W.2d 791, 795 (Tex. App.-El Paso 1993, writ denied). Further, the objection at trial must comport with the argument made on appeal. Phippen v. Deere & Co., 965 S.W.2d 713, 716 (Tex. App.- Texarkana 1998, no writ).

         Quiroga contends that Jones objected only to her statement that Jones had no insurance and failed to object to Quiroga's alleged failure to give notice to Jones by providing the documents and affidavits to him before trial. In other words, Quiroga maintains that Jones' objection at trial does not reflect the substance of the issue he now presents for our review on appeal. In support of her position, Quiroga points to the following trial testimony wherein she was testifying specifically in relation to the medical bills from Camp County Chiropractic (CCC):

[Counsel for Quiroga]: I move that Number 4 be admitted.
[Counsel for Jones]: Objection. She doesn't necessarily know that he did not have insurance. I'll object to that.
[Counsel for Quiroga]: Doesn't have anything to do with this bill.
[Counsel for Jones]: I still obj ect to that.
[THE COURT]: I'll sustain that portion as far as that particular aspect of testimony. I'm going to allow this evidence into the record.

         In emphasizing this particular segment of the transcript, Quiroga overlooks several other objections made by Jones during trial, which objections specifically addressed the admission of the billing records and accompanying affidavits from the three medical providers and the lack of notice given to him in regard to that particular evidence. For instance, following a discussion between the parties and the trial court relating to the admission of the records, Jones stated, "I will object to this in particular but -- it's just a photocopy. I would object to all three. I haven't seen any of the three before. I also object to this one as a photocopy, one for 4600 some odd dollars."[ ...

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