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The Estate of Soto v. Mireles

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso

August 21, 2019

THE ESTATE OF JOEL SOTO by and through its independent administrator, MARIBEL AMADOR, and MARIBEL AMADOR, Indiv. and IVAN SOTO, JOSEL SOTO, JR., and PAULINA SOTO, all Indiv., By and Through Their Next Friend, MARIBEL AMADOR, Appellants,
v.
BAUDELIO GONZALEZ MIRELES, Appellee.

          Appeal from the 205th Judicial District Court of Hudspeth County, Texas (TC#CV-04423-205)

          Before McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Palafox, JJ.

          OPINION

          YVONNE T. RODRIGUEZ, JUSTICE.

         Appellants, Maribel Amador, the Independent Administrator of the Estate of Joel Soto, et al., appeal the trial court's denial of their Motion for New Trial. The decedent, Joel Soto, was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by the Appellee, Baudillo Gonzalez Mireles, as Soto was riding his bicycle. In a single issue, Appellants contend the trial court erred by not excluding the evidence regarding Joel Soto's blood alcohol content level. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Both parties agree a trial took place and evidence pertaining to Soto's blood alcohol content level at the time of his death was admitted during the trial. The jury unanimously found Soto negligent for his death and awarded zero damages to Soto's estate.

         On December 15, 2017, the trial court denied Appellants' Motion for New Trial. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         In their sole issue, Appellants claims reversible error because the trial court erred by not excluding the evidence as to Soto's blood alcohol content level. Appellee responds that Appellants did not provide the reporter's record of the trial testimony or exhibits, and only provides the reporter's record from the pretrial hearings and the hearing on her motion for new trial. Appellee asserts the lack of the full trial record is fatal to Appellants' appeal because Appellants cannot establish harmful evidentiary error with a partial record. We agree.

         Standard of Review

         We review a trial court's denial of a motion for new trial for abuse of discretion. Manjlai v. Manjlai, 447 S.W.3d 376, 379 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2014, pet. denied). A trial court abuses its discretion when it rules without regard for any guiding rules or principles. Granbury Marina Hotel, L.P. v. Berkel & Co. Contractors, Inc., 473 S.W.3d 834, 841 (Tex.App.- El Paso 2015, no pet.)(citing Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. v. Malone, 972 S.W.2d 35, 43 (Tex. 1998)). In addition, an appellant seeking to reverse a judgment on evidentiary error must show not only that the trial court abused its discretion and improperly admitted the evidence, but also that the admission probably resulted in an improper judgment. Sanchez v. Balderrama, 546 S.W.3d 230, 234 (Tex.App.-El Paso 2017, no pet.). To properly evaluate whether an admission of a particular piece of evidence resulted in an improper judgment, we must review the entire record and the appellant must demonstrate the judgment turned on the specific, particular evidence admitted. Id. at 234-35. Determining whether erroneous admission of evidence is harmful is a matter of judgment by the reviewing court. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. v. Armstrong, 145 S.W.3d 131, 144 (Tex. 2004).

         Analysis

         Under Rule 34.6(c) of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure, if an appellant requests a partial reporter's record, the appellant must include in the request a statement of the points or issues to be presented on appeal and will then be limited to those points or issues. Tex.R.App.P. 34.6(c)(1). This gives the opposing party the opportunity to supplement the requested evidence by designating additional exhibits and portions of the testimony to be included in the reporter's record. Tex.R.App.P. 34.6(c)(2). Compliance with Rule 34.6(c) requires appellate courts to presume that the partial reporter's record constitutes the entire record for purposes of reviewing the stated points or issues. Tex.R.App.P. 34.6(c)(4).

         Appellants failed to comply with Tex.R.App.P. 34.6(c)'s requirements. Appellants requested a partial reporter's record, but failed to include any statements of the issues intended to be presented on appeal. When an appellant completely fails to include any statements of the issues, the record is deemed incomplete and the appellate court presumes the omitted portions of the reporter's record are relevant and support the trial court's judgment. Bennett v. Cochran, 96 S.W.3d 227, 229 (Tex. 2002)(noting that Rule 34.6 requires appellate courts to affirm the ...


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