Appeal from the 152nd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2014-09477
consists of Justices Wise, Jewell and Poissant.
Margaret "Meg" Poissant, Justice.
Redmond Legal Group, PLLC, and Jerry Redmond, Jr., bring this
appeal from the trial court's order of May 15, 2017,
granting a motion for sanctions in favor of appellees Carliss
Chatman and Mitra Woody and dismissing appellants' claims
with prejudice. We reverse and remand.
and Procedural Background
underlying suit began in February 2014 when Redmond Legal
Group, PLLC, ("RLG") and Jerry Redmond, Jr.,
("Redmond") filed their original petition against
Carliss Chatman and Mitra Woody, former contract attorneys
for RLG. Chatman and Woody counterclaimed. Eventually, the
matter was set for trial during a two-week period beginning
January 18, 2016.
January 5, 2016, counsel for Redmond filed a motion seeking a
continuance or abatement of trial based on an e-mail from
Redmond with a physician's letter attached, which stated:
"due to injury, Redmond is not able to travel from
Georgia or appear at trial." Redmond's counsel
attempted to contact her client but was unsuccessful. The
letter, dated December 18, 2015, is signed "Dr. Debra
Hyber" (hereinafter the "Hyber letter"). In
the top right-hand corner is the following:
Dr. Debra Hyber, DO
476 Mansell Rd
Roswell, Georgia 30076
Hyber letter states Redmond was injured in November 2015,
necessitating "medical treatment and stay, and
rehabilitative therapy . . .." Further, the Hyber letter
states Redmond continues to receive rehabilitative therapy
"and is unable to travel until he is reevaluated and
possibly released by me during his next visit in late January
2016." In June 2016, Chatman and Woody moved for
sanctions alleging the Hyber letter was fraudulent and was
submitted to delay trial and give Redmond more time to
respond to discovery.
December 20, 2016, a status conference was held. The hearing
record reflects that appellants' trial counsel informed
the trial court that the Hyber letter was "false."
She stated the letter was not written by the doctor and there
was no clinic at that address. According to counsel,
"Everything about the letter is a falsity." The
trial court asked, "you are saying to me that this
letter was presented to you by your client is a fraud?"
To which trial counsel relied, "Yes." The trial
court expressed concern that a fraud upon the Court had been
committed. The trial setting was cancelled, and an
evidentiary hearing planned for January. The trial court
stated it was "on the table" as to whether
appellants' pleading would be struck, and the case
dismissed. The trial court said, "I will want to see
evidence that Mr. Redmond was in the hospital at the time we
are discussing here."
January 3, 2017, a hearing was held on the motion for
sanctions. On February 6, 2017, the trial court signed an
order directing Redmond to provide his counsel with the name
of the hospital(s) that treated him for the alleged injury he
suffered in November 2015 no later than February 10, 2017.
Further, Redmond's counsel was ordered to then obtain
records "from the identified hospital(s) in ...