Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
IN RE 3 ATOMS, LLC AND FUN SPOT MANUFACTURING, LLC, RELATORS
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PARKER, JJ.
3 Atoms, LLC and Fun Spot Manufacturing, LLC, seek a writ of
mandamus compelling respondent, the Honorable Ruben G. Reyes,
Judge of the 72nd District Court of Lubbock County, to vacate
his order granting a new trial for real party in interest,
Billy Gonzales, as next friend of Aidan Zachary Gonzales, a
minor. We will conditionally grant mandamus relief.
brought the underlying lawsuit for personal injuries Aidan
sustained at Altitude Trampoline Park in Lubbock. Prior to
trial, Gonzales settled with other defendants for the
stipulated sum of $960, 991.78.
case against relators then proceeded to trial by jury. After
three days of testimony, the jury returned a 10-2 verdict
that apportioned relators' fault at 15% and awarded
Gonzales $500, 000 for past damages and $0 for future
non-economic damages, including disfigurement. Because the
amount of the settlement credit exceeded the amount awarded,
the trial court rendered judgment that Gonzales take nothing.
motion for new trial, Gonzales argued the "jury's
award of zero damages for [Aidan's] future disfigurement,
mental anguish, physical impairment, and physical pain was
too small, and was against the great weight and preponderance
of evidence so as to be manifestly unjust, shock the
conscience, or clearly demonstrate bias." Relators
responded, Gonzales filed a reply, and the trial court
conducted a hearing on the motion. Thereafter, the trial
court signed an order granting Gonzales's motion and
ordering a new trial. Its sole expressed rationale was the
jury's failure to award an amount of money for future
disfigurement. This original proceeding followed.
their first issue, relators argue the trial court clearly
abused its discretion by granting a new trial.
obtain relief by mandamus the relator must demonstrate (1)
the trial court clearly abused its discretion and (2) the
relator lacks an adequate remedy by appeal. In re
Reece, 341 S.W.3d 360, 364 (Tex. 2011) (orig.
proceeding); see In re Bent, 487 S.W.3d 170, 177-78
(Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding) (even when appeals court
conducts a merits-based review of a trial court's
rationale for ordering a new trial, the
"abuse-of-discretion standard that is familiar and
inherent-to-mandamus proceedings" applies). A trial
court clearly abuses its discretion if it reaches a decision
so arbitrary and unreasonable as to amount to a clear and
prejudicial error of law or if it clearly fails to analyze
the law correctly or apply the law correctly to the facts.
In re Cerberus Capital Mgmt. L.P., 164 S.W.3d 379,
382 (Tex. 2005) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (citing Walker v. Packer,
827 S.W.2d 833, 839-40 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding)). If
the trial court abuses its discretion in granting a motion
for new trial, there is no adequate remedy by appeal and the
petitioner is entitled to mandamus relief. In re D.C.P.
Operating Co., 07-18-00416-CV, 2019 Tex.App. LEXIS 3441,
at *4 (Tex. App.-Amarillo Apr. 29, 2019, orig. proceeding)
(mem. op.) (citing In re Columbia Med. Ctr. of Las
Colinas, Subsidiary, L.P., 290 S.W.3d 204, 209-10 (Tex.
2009) (orig. proceeding)).
courts historically have been afforded broad discretion to
grant a new trial, but that discretion is not
"limitless." In re Columbia, 290 S.W.3d at
210, 213; see Tex. Const. art. 1, § 15 (right
to trial by jury "shall remain inviolate").
"Our rules of civil procedure vest trial courts with
broad authority to order new trials 'for good cause'
and 'when the damages are manifestly too small or too
large.'" In re Bent, 487 S.W.3d at 175
(citing Tex.R.Civ.P. 320). But a trial court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the jury in granting a
new trial. In re Orren, 533 S.W.3d 926, 929 (Tex.
App.-Tyler 2017, orig. proceeding).
court granting a new trial following a jury trial must
provide the litigants with "an understandable,
reasonably specific explanation" for doing so. In re
Bent, 487 S.W.3d at 172-73 (citing In re
Columbia, 290 S.W.3d at 213). Generally a trial court
satisfies the requirement when its stated reason for granting
the new trial is "a reason for which a new trial is
legally appropriate" and "is specific enough to
indicate that the trial court did not simply parrot a pro
forma template, but rather derived the articulated reasons
from the particular facts and circumstances of the case at
hand." In re United Scaffolding, Inc., 377