ORIGINAL PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS County Civil Court at
Law No. 4 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1061520
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Wise and Hassan.
August 1, 2019, Vicki Nelsen filed a petition for writ of
mandamus in this court. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann.
§ 22.221 (Supp.); see also Tex. R. App. P. 52.
In the petition, relator asks this court to compel the
Honorable Lesley Briones, presiding judge of the County Civil
Court at Law No. 4 of Harris County, to vacate her order
dated June 21, 2019, granting the motion for new trial of
real party-in-interest Debby Ovalle, individually and as next
friend to her minor child, Sebastian Ovalle
conditionally grant the requested mandamus relief.
and Procedural Background
filed suit against Nelsen, alleging Nelsen's dog bit
Ovalle's son on his eye and mouth, and Nelsen was
negligent in not restraining the dog or maintaining the dog
in a secure enclosure.
trial, the jury answered "No" to the question of
whether the negligence of Nelsen, if any, proximately caused
the occurrence or injury in question. The trial court signed
a final judgment that Ovalle take nothing against Nelsen.
filed a motion for new trial, arguing, among other things:
(1) the jury's finding of no negligence is against the
great weight of the evidence and the evidence conclusively
proves Nelsen was negligent and negligent per se; (2) the
trial court abused its discretion by excluding an unredacted
police report of the incident and by admitting a redacted
version of the police report; and (3) the trial court abused
its discretion by admitting social media posts of Ovalle.
Nelsen filed a response to the motion, to which Ovalle
trial court heard the motion for new trial on June 19, 2019,
and signed an order granting a new trial without stating a
the trial court has provided an understandable, reasonably
specific explanation for setting aside a jury verdict and
ordering a new trial is subject to mandamus review. See
In re Bent, 487 S.W.3d 170, 173 (Tex. 2016) (orig.
new-trial order must initially satisfy the facial validity
requirements. See In re Bent, 487 S.W.3d at 173. A
trial court granting a motion for new trial must provide an
understandable, reasonably specific explanation of the trial
court's reasons for setting aside the jury's verdict.
See id.; In re Cambell, No. 14-18-01016-CV,
___S.W.3d___, 2019 WL 1388648, at *2 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] Mar. 28, 2019, orig. proceeding). A trial court
granting a motion for new trial should state one or more
reasons for the ruling and those reasons must be both legally
appropriate and sufficiently specific to show 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. See In re Bent,
487 S.W.3d at 173; In re Cambell, ___S.W.3d at___,
2019 WL 1388648, at *2.
moved for a new trial, arguing, among other things, that the
jury's finding of no negligence is against the great
weight of the evidence. In In re Cambell, we
explained the facial requirements for an order granting a new