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In re Dawson

Supreme Court of Texas

June 22, 2018

In re Melissa Dawson

          On Petition for Writ of Mandamus

          PER CURIAM.

         In this original proceeding, the relator, Melissa Dawson, seeks a writ of mandamus. On March 5, 2014, Dawson was sitting at a table at Mary's Outpost #1, a bar and restaurant in Grand Prairie, when a television fell from the wall, striking and injuring her. Nineteen months later, Dawson sued Mary's owner and operator, Two for Freedom, LLC, for her injuries. Upon serving Two for Freedom with her original petition, Dawson also propounded a request for disclosures, interrogatories, and requests for production. The responses to these discovery requests were due December 29, 2015, -nearly three months before the running of limitations-but Dawson agreed to an extension until January 15, 2016.

         As far as this original proceeding goes, these are the relevant portions of Two for Freedom's initial disclosure responses:

. Rule 194.2(a): The correct names of the parties to the lawsuit.
Response: [Two for Freedom] believes the parties have been correctly named.
. Rule 194.2(b): The name, address, and telephone number of any potential parties.
Response: None.
. Rule 194.2(c): The legal theories and, in general, the factual bases of the responding party's claims or defenses . . . .
Response: . . . [Two for Freedom] would show that the matters complained of . . . were, as to [Two for Freedom], wholly unavoidable and without any negligence on the part of [Two for Freedom]. . . . Additionally, and in the alternative, [Dawson's] injuries . . . were caused by persons or entities beyond [Two for Freedom's] control or employ, which were the sole cause and/or a proximate cause of such pled injuries. . . . [Two for Freedom] asserts its right to proportionate responsibility, comparative fault, contribution, indemnity, and/or credit pursuant to Chapter 22 and 23 of the Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code.
. Rule 194.2(7): The name, address, and telephone number of any person who may be designated as a responsible third party.
Response: Defendant will supplement.

         Dawson's interrogatory number six is also relevant. In it, Dawson sought "the name and address of the individual(s) who installed the television that is the subject of this suit and the date on which such installation took place." Two for Freedom answered: "The television in question was installed by Michael Graciano." Two for Freedom's answer to interrogatory number six was the only mention of Graciano by name before the statute of limitations ran on Dawson's claims. Two for Freedom did not supplement its discovery responses before limitations expired.

         On March 21, 2016, more than two weeks after limitations expired, Two for Freedom moved for leave to designate Graciano as a responsible third party. In its motion, it alleged that Graciano installed the television "in his individual capacity as an independent ...


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