Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
IN RE VB HARLINGEN HOLDINGS D/B/A VALLEY BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER
Petition for Writ of Mandamus.
Chief Justice Contreras and Justices Benavides and Hinojosa
M. BENAVIDES, JUSTICE. 
original proceeding, relator VB Harlingen Holdings d/b/a
Valley Baptist Medical Center contends that the trial court
abused its discretion by denying relator's motion for
leave to designate a responsible third party. See
generally Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
33.004. Because we conclude that relator failed to comply
with its obligations to timely disclose that Dr. Noemi
Infante might be designated as a responsible third party
under the civil practice and remedies code, we deny the
petition for writ of mandamus. See id. §
an alleged medical malpractice claim brought by plaintiff
Lynda Noble, individually and as next friend of Aaralynn
Noble Hanline, a minor, against relator. On March 31, 2015,
Lynda was admitted to the labor and delivery unit at the
relator's hospital with gestational hypertension by her
obstetrician, Dr. Infante. On April 2, 2015, Dr. Infante
ordered Lynda transferred to the Mother-Baby unit for
observation. On April 3, 2015, Lynda suffered a concealed
placental abruption. Dr. Mitchell Hughston was on call for
Dr. Infante and ordered Lynda transferred to the labor and
delivery unit where he performed a cesarean section. Aaralynn
suffered catastrophic brain damage.
March 22, 2017, Lynda filed a medical malpractice case
against relator. She alleged, inter alia, that the nurses
working at relator's hospital were negligent. Her
petition included requests for disclosure which were due
"within 50 days of the service of this request."
See Tex. R. Civ. P. 194.3 (providing that a
defendant served with requests for disclosure before its
answer is due "need not respond until 50 days after
service of the request"). Relator was served with the
lawsuit on April 3, 2017. Relator filed its answer to the
lawsuit on or about April 24, 2017 and filed its responses to
Lynda's requests for disclosure on or about September 6,
2017. Relator filed its first supplemental responses to the
requests for disclosure on or about September 21, 2018.
Neither the relator's original responses to the requests
for disclosure nor its first supplemental responses
identified any person who might be designated as a
responsible third party. See id. R.
194.2(l) (allowing requests for disclosure seeking
"the name, address, and telephone number of any person
who may be designated as a responsible third party").
November 20, 2018, relator filed a motion to designate Dr.
Infante as a responsible third party. According to the
scheduling order in place at this time, the deadline for the
plaintiff and defendant to designate experts and provide
reports had passed on August 21, 2018 and September 21, 2018,
respectively, and the deadline for the joinder of parties had
expired on October 22, 2018. Relator's motion for leave
to designate Dr. Infante stated, in relevant part:
. . . This is a healthcare liability claim. Plaintiffs allege
nurses working at Valley Baptist Medical Center were
negligent in their care of Lynda Noble from March 31, 2015
through April 3, 2015.
On March 31, 2015, Ms. Noble was admitted to the Labor and
Delivery Unit of Valley Baptist Medical Center by her OBGYN,
Dr. Noemi Infante, for gestational hypertension. The Labor
& Delivery Unit typically handles antepartum patients,
including those at higher risk due to gestational
hypertension. However, on April 2, 2015, Dr. Infante ordered
that Ms. Noble be transferred to the Mother-Baby Unit for
observation (the Mother-Baby Unit typically handles
postpartum patients). Additionally, Dr. Infante ordered that
while Ms. Noble was [in] the Mother-Baby Unit, a Non-Stress
Test be performed daily to determine the fetal heart rate.
These two orders were the sole decision of Dr. Infante. They
were also allegedly negligent, according to Plaintiffs'
At some point on April 3, 2015, while on the Mother-Baby
Unit, Ms. Noble experienced a concealed placental abruption.
Ms. Noble was subsequently ordered to be transferred to the
Labor & Delivery Unit by Dr. Hughston, who was on call
for Dr. Infante. After Ms. Noble was transferred to the Labor
& Delivery Unit, an emergency cesarean section was
performed by Dr. Hughston. The baby, Aaralynn Noble Hanline,
was born with catastrophic brain injuries.
Plaintiffs' experts have opined Ms. Noble should have
never been transferred to the Mother-Baby Unit. According to
Plaintiff's experts, such decision was inappropriate and
was an alleged proximate cause of Plaintiff's injuries.
Dr. Infante is a responsible third party because she caused
or contributed to cause the alleged injuries for which
Plaintiff seeks recovery of damages. Accordingly, Valley
Baptist Medical Center seeks formal designation of Noemi
Infante, M.D. as a responsible third party pursuant to
Section 33.004 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies
(Footnote omitted). Relator supported its motion to designate
Dr. Infante with the expert report of Lindsay B. McDevitt, a
registered nurse. McDevitt's report stated, in part,
Noble was not an appropriate candidate for transfer to the
antepartum floor with severe preeclampsia and the nurses did
not advocate for her in this matter. She was placed in a six
patient to one nurse assignment which does not meet
AWHONN[ safe staffing guidelines for a patient
receiving Magnesium Sulfate. She did not receive appropriate
care due to this and treatment was delayed.
McDevitt's report did not identify Dr. Infante by name or
otherwise indicate negligence on the part of any treating
physicians. On this same date, relator identified Dr. Infante
for the first time as a potentially responsible third party
in its second ...