Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Maconori Enterprises, Ltd.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

June 20, 2018

IN RE MACONORI ENTERPRISES, LTD. and Nolan Richardson, Individually

          Original Mandamus Proceeding [1]

          Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice Irene Rios, Justice

          OPINION

          REBECA C. MARTINEZ, JUSTICE

         In their petition for writ of mandamus, relators assert the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the real parties in interest to designate a lawyer and her law firm as responsible third parties after the real parties in interest had named the lawyer and her firm as third-party defendants and later reached a settlement with them. Relators also assert they have no adequate remedy by appeal. Because we believe relators have an adequate remedy by appeal, we deny the petition for writ of mandamus.

         BACKGROUND

         Relators and the real parties in interest, Eloy Garcia and Rail Link International, Inc. ("RLI"), formed a partnership to lease property and operate a rail car uploading operation at Port San Antonio. The parties retained attorney Allison Haynes and her law firm to negotiate the lease terms and draft the partnership agreement. After a dispute arose, relators filed suit initially against three defendants, two of whom are Garcia and RLI. Relators alleged Garcia and RLI breached the joint venture partnership.

         Garcia and RLI filed third-party claims against Haynes and her firm, alleging they committed legal malpractice and breached fiduciary duties. Garcia and RLI also alleged Haynes and her firm were liable for "all damages suffered as a result of this litigation which [relators] have claimed is an amount in excess of $29 million." One week before trial, Garcia and RLI settled their third-party claims against Haynes and her firm.

         About one week after settling with Haynes and her law firm, Garcia and RLI moved to designate Haynes and her law firm as responsible third parties. Relators opposed the motion. The trial court granted the motion to designate and stayed the trial setting to allow relators to file this mandamus proceeding.

         PREREQUISISTES TO MANDAMUS RELIEF

         Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy. In re Sw. Bell Tel. Co., L.P., 235 S.W.3d 619, 623 (Tex. 2007) (orig. proceeding). Mandamus will issue only to correct a clear abuse of discretion when there is no other adequate remedy at law. See In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding); Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839-40 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). The relator has the burden of establishing both prerequisites to mandamus relief, and this burden is a heavy one. In re CSX Corp., 124 S.W.3d 149, 151 (Tex. 2003) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). Because we conclude the issue of whether relators have an adequate remedy by appeal is dispositive, we do not address whether the trial court abused its discretion.

         ADEQUATE REMEDY

         We can find no mandamus case discussing the granting of a motion to designate a responsible third party ("RTP"), and both parties acknowledge there are none. Nevertheless, relators urge this court to adopt the same analysis applied in In re Coppola, 535 S.W.3d 506, 509 (Tex. 2017) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam), in which the Texas Supreme Court addressed the adequacy of an appellate remedy for the first time in the context of a RTP designation pursuant to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 33.004.[2] In Coppola, unlike here, the trial court had denied the motion to designate without granting leave to replead.

         The Coppola Court first explained "that 'adequate' is merely 'a proxy for the careful balance of jurisprudential considerations that determine when appellate courts will use original mandamus proceedings to review the actions of lower courts' and an 'adequate' appellate remedy exists when 'any benefits to mandamus review are outweighed by the detriments.'" Id. (citation omitted). Regarding the denial of a section 33.004 RTP designation, the Coppola Court concluded that "[i]n weighing the benefits of mandamus review, . . . the benefits generally outweigh the detriments." Id. The Court reached this conclusion based on its determination that allowing a case to proceed to trial despite the erroneous denial of a RTP designation "'would skew the proceedings, potentially affect the outcome of the litigation, and compromise the presentation of [the relator's] defense in ways unlikely to be apparent in the appellate record.'" Id. (citation omitted); see also In re Brokers Logistics, Ltd., 320 S.W.3d 402, 408 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2010, orig. proceeding) ("The trial court's [striking of a RTP designation] certainly could be reviewed on appeal in the event Relators suffer an adverse judgment, but Relators would be required to prove that the court's error caused the rendition of an improper judgment in order to obtain a reversal."). "The denial of mandamus review [of a trial court's denial of a RTP designation] impairs-and potentially denies-a litigant's significant and substantive right to allow the fact finder to determine the proportionate responsibility of all responsible parties." Coppola, 535 S.W.3d at 509; see also In re CVR Energy, Inc., 500 S.W.3d 67, 84 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, orig. proceeding) ("The denial of [relator's] right to allow the jury to determine the proportionate responsibility of all responsible parties is a significant ruling and mandamus review will prevent the impairment or loss of this substantive right."). Accordingly, the Coppola Court held that, "ordinarily, a relator need only establish a trial court's abuse of discretion to demonstrate entitlement to mandamus relief with regard to a trial court's denial of a timely-filed section 33.004(a) motion." Coppola, 535 S.W.3d at 510 (emphasis added).

         Finally, an appellate remedy is not inadequate merely because it may involve more expense or delay than obtaining an extraordinary writ. In re McAllen Med. Ctr., Inc., 275 S.W.3d 458, 472 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding). "In previous cases, [the Texas Supreme Court has] explained that 'the cost and delay of pursuing an appeal will not, in themselves, render appeal an inadequate alternative to mandamus review.'" Id. (citation omitted.) However, the Brokers Logistics court held that, in the context of the denial of a motion to designate a RTP, courts "must also consider whether mandamus will spare litigants and the public 'the time ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.