ORIGINAL PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS 113th District Court
Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2018-82202
consists of Justices Wise, Jewell, and Hassan.
9, 2019, relator Ashton Lee Cagle ("Relator") filed
a petition for writ of mandamus in this court. See
Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 22.221 (Vernon Supp. 2018);
see also Tex. R. App. P. 52. In the petition,
Relator asks this court to compel the Honorable Rabeea Sultan
Collier, presiding judge of the 113th District Court of
Harris County, to: (1) vacate her orders denying
Relator's requests to withdraw certain deemed admissions
and (2) permit Relator to withdraw deemed admissions numbers
1-5, 7-15, 17-18, 20, 22-36, 41, and 43. Because the trial
court abused its discretion by denying Relator's requests
to withdraw these admissions, we conditionally grant relief.
and Procedural Background
Pioquinto ("Plaintiff") alleges she was injured in
an automobile accident with Relator. Plaintiff filed suit
against Relator for negligence and against Lisa Cagle
(Relator's mother) for negligent entrustment of the
was served with Plaintiff's original petition and
citation on December 8, 2018. The petition was accompanied by
requests for disclosure, interrogatories, requests for
production, and forty-four (44) requests for admission. The
responses to the requests for admission were due within fifty
(50) days (January 28, 2019).
through counsel retained by his insurer, untimely served
responses denying most of the requests for admission on March
25, 2019. Because Relator's response was not timely
served, the requests were considered admitted without the
necessity of a court order. Tex.R.Civ.P. 198.2(c).
filed a motion to withdraw deemed admissions, which the trial
court denied by written order on May 8, 2019.
then filed a motion to reconsider, supported by the
affidavits of Relator and his legal counsel, Nichole Wooten.
Relator's affidavit states:
On December 8, 2018, I was served with a copy of
Plaintiff's Original Petition, Plaintiff's Request
for Disclosure, Plaintiff's First Request for Production,
Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories, and
Plaintiff's First Request for Admissions. At the time I
was served with the lawsuit, I was 18 years old and
unfamiliar with the civil litigation process. Additionally, I
was unaware of the time deadlines associated with the
documents I received or how it would affect my case going
forward. During this time period, I was living with my
brother Ein Cagle because my mother had recently passed away.
Because I was unsure about what to do, I spoke with my
grandfather Rusty Spencer. My grandfather advised me that he
would take care of the legal documents that I received. After
speaking with my grandfather, I took no further actions.
In February 2019, my uncle, Paul Stanton, contacted me and
advised that State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
("State Farm") was trying to reach me regarding the
lawsuit. He instructed me to give the legal paperwork to my
State Farm agent, which I did immediately. Thereafter, I
spoke with a State Farm representative, who advised me that I
could request a defense be provided on my behalf. As a
result, I immediately requested State Farm obtain legal
representation to defend my interest in this case.
Once I understood my options and the process, I quickly
acted. My failure to respond to Plaintiff's discovery
requests was not the result of conscious indifference, but
due to ...