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Archie v. Gonzales

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

October 29, 2019

PAUL E. ARCHIE, Appellant
v.
MELISSA GONZALES AND THE MENTAL HEALTH & MENTAL RETARDATION AUTHORITY OF HARRIS COUNTY, Appellees

          On Appeal from the 165th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2016-74085

          Panel consists of Justices Lloyd, Goodman, and Landau.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Gordon Goodman Justice.

         This is an appeal from the trial court's order dismissing claims due to uncured pleading defects. Paul Archie filed suit against Melissa Gonzales and her employer, The Mental Health & Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County (now known as The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD) (collectively, "The Center"). The Center filed special exceptions identifying various substantive defects in Archie's petition. The trial court sustained the special exceptions and ordered Archie to file an amended petition curing the defects. But Archie never filed an amended petition, and, as a result, the trial court dismissed Archie's claims without prejudice.

         In three issues, Archie contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying him the opportunity to file an amended petition, in refusing to rule on his motion for an extension of time to respond to the Center's special exceptions, and in refusing to rule on his motion for an extension of time to file an amended petition.

         We affirm.

         Background

         On October 12, 2016, Archie filed a pro se original petition against the Center, alleging that the Center negligently failed to treat his wife's mental illness, which led to the death of their unborn child. Archie asserted claims under the Texas Tort Claims Act, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 101.001-.109, and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd.

         On November 7, 2017, the Center filed special exceptions identifying a variety of substantive defects in Archie's petition. The Center set the special exceptions for hearing on a date not reflected in the record.

         On November 27, 2017, Archie filed a motion for an extension of time to respond to the Center's special exceptions, requesting that the trial court extend his response deadline to January 5, 2018. Archie did not set the motion for submission.

         Two days later, on November 29, 2017, the Center reset the hearing on its special exceptions to January 25, 2018. The Center then filed a response to Archie's motion for an extension of time to respond to the special exceptions. In its response, the Center stated that it had reset the hearing on its special exceptions and that Archie's request for an extension was therefore moot, as the new hearing date afforded Archie even more time to respond than he had requested.

         On December 20, 2017, the trial court entered a docket control order, ordering that the parties file all amendments and supplements to pleadings by August 6, 2018.

         On January 25, 2018, the trial court sustained the Center's special exceptions and ordered that Archie file an amended petition curing the defects within 30 days. The trial court warned Archie that failure to file an amended petition would result in the dismissal of his claims. However, Archie did not file an amended petition by the court-ordered, 30-day deadline of February 24, 2018.

         On April 27, 2018, Archie notified the trial court that he intended to file an amended petition on or before the August 6, 2018 pleadings deadline set in the docket control order. Archie did not file an amended ...


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