Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN MANDAMUS
McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Palafox, JJ.
T. RODRIGUEZ, Justice
Anne Vinson filed a mandamus petition against the Honorable
Luis Aguilar, Judge of the 243rd District Court of El Paso
County, Texas. Vinson is challenging Respondent's order
compelling her to attend mediation in cause number
2018DCV0953 styled Jaime Soto v. Stephanie Lisa
Dutchover even though she is not a party to the suit.
Aguilar left office on December 31, 2018, and the Honorable
Selena Solis took office as the Judge of the 243rd District
Court on or about January 1, 2019. On our own motion, we
issued an order that Judge Solis be substituted as Respondent
in this original proceeding. See Tex.R.App.P.
7.2(a). We also gave Judge Solis an opportunity to reconsider
Judge Aguilar's ruling that is the subject of this
original proceeding. Judge Solis notified the Court that she
has reviewed the order and will not be issuing any new
orders. We conditionally grant mandamus relief.
original proceeding arises from a personal injury lawsuit
pending in the 243rd District Court (cause number
2018DCV0953). The real party in interest, Jaime Soto, filed a
negligence suit against Stephanie Lisa Dutchover alleging
that she failed to control her speed and rear-ended
Soto's vehicle. Allstate insured Dutchover and Vinson is
an adjuster employed by Allstate. Allstate and Vinson are not
parties to the suit.
August 16, 2018, the trial court signed an order appointing a
mediator and requiring the parties to schedule a mediation
within thirty days. The mediation order further required
that: "All Parties and their representatives with full
settlement authority shall attend the mediation process, with
their counsel of record." The parties complied with the
order and attended mediation on September 28, 2018. Vinson
did not attend the mediation, but an Allstate representative
attended. On October 1, 2018, the mediator filed a report
stating that mediation was unsuccessful.
On October 23, 2018, Soto filed a motion to compel which
stated the following:
On or about September 28, 2018, Plaintiff and Defendant
attended Court-Ordered mediation at the offices of Daniel G.
Mena, but were unsuccessful in settling this matter. Only two
of the four hours allotted for mediation were used. The
representative from Allstate that attended the mediation was
not the handling claims adjuster who has been negotiating
with Plaintiff throughout the course of this case. Under this
Court's order, 'all parties and their representatives
with full settlement authority shall attend the mediation
process, with their counsel of record.' See Exhibit
A. Plaintiff requests this Honorable Court to compel the
handling claims adjuster, Mary Anne Vinson, who has full
settlement authority, to attend the remaining two hours of
Court-Ordered mediation. [Emphasis in orig.].
a hearing held on November 1, 2018, the trial court granted
the motion and entered an order compelling Vinson to attend
mediation. Vinson did not provide the Court with a record of
the hearing on the motion to compel, but the petition
includes counsel's certification that no evidence was
received at the November 1, 2018 hearing. See
Tex.R.App.P. 52.7(a)(2)(requiring relator to file with the
petition "a properly authenticated transcript of any
relevant testimony from any underlying proceeding, including
any exhibits offered in evidence, or a statement that no
testimony was adduced in connection with the matter
complained."). Counsel's certification is supported
by a recitation in the trial court's order that the order
was based on the parties' arguments presented at the
INSURANCE COMPANY'S REPRESENTATIVE TO ATTEND
sole issue, Vinson contends that the trial court clearly
abused its discretion by compelling her to attend mediation
in the underlying lawsuit.