Original Mandamus Proceeding
consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J.
WTG Fuels, Inc., filed this original petition for writ of
mandamus in which it requests that we instruct the Honorable
Rodney W. Satterwhite, Senior District Judge of the 441st
District Court of Midland County, to vacate two orders
entered on October 9, 2019, in Cause No. CV53491.
first order, Judge Satterwhite granted the motion of
Plaintiffs John Schmidt, Robert Graves, and Weston Brandes,
who are the real parties in interest in this proceeding, to
strike WTG's designation of Robert D. Hayter, Nancy
Hayter, and Joe Robert Hayter as potentially responsible
third parties. We deny WTG's petition for writ of
mandamus as to this order.
second order, Judge Satterwhite granted Plaintiffs'
motion to conduct discovery into WTG's net worth. We
conditionally grant the petition for writ of mandamus as to
who were hunting on land leased and occupied by the Hayters,
allege that they were injured in a propane explosion at a
ranch house on the property. The propane leaked from a
corroded pipe in the wall of the house, accumulated under the
house, and ignited when Plaintiffs attempted to light a pilot
light on a hot water heater. Plaintiffs sued WTG, which had
refilled the propane tank on the property on the day before
the accident, and the Hayters, among other parties. WTG
designated the Hayters as potentially responsible third
parties pursuant to Section 33.004 of the Texas Civil
Practice and Remedies Code. See Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code Ann. § 33.004 (West 2015).
Hayters filed a combined traditional and no-evidence motion
for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs' claims. The
Hayters specifically asserted (1) that the Recreational Use
Statute, set out in Sections 75.001-.007 of the Texas Civil
Practice and Remedies Code, barred Plaintiffs' negligence
claims; (2) that they were not negligent or grossly negligent
as a matter of law; and (3) that there was no evidence of any
of the elements of Plaintiffs' claims for negligence and
gross negligence. Judge Satterwhite granted the Hayters'
motion for summary judgment without stating the ground for
the ruling, dismissed Plaintiffs' claims against the
Hayters, and severed Plaintiffs' claims against the
Hayters into a new cause of action.
moved to strike WTG's designation of the Hayters as
potentially responsible third parties. Plaintiffs argued
that, because there was no evidence to sustain their claims
against the Hayters, there was also no evidence to support
the designation of the Hayters as potentially responsible
third parties. WTG responded (1) that there was more than a
scintilla of evidence to raise a fact issue as to whether the
Hayters were responsible for Plaintiffs' injuries, (2)
that the Hayters "had certain obligations to ensure the
. . . safety" of Plaintiffs, and (3) that the Hayters
could be potentially responsible third parties even if their
liability to Plaintiffs was limited by the Recreational Use
Statute. On October 9, 2019, Judge Satterwhite granted
Plaintiffs' motion to strike WTG's designation of the
Hayters as potentially responsible third parties.
also moved to conduct net worth discovery against WTG
pursuant to Section 41.0115 of the Texas Civil Practice and
Remedies Code. See Civ. Prac. & Rem. §
41.0115 (West Supp. 2019). WTG responded that Plaintiffs had
not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits
of their claim for exemplary damages. Alternatively, WTG
asserted that the requested discovery was overbroad and was
not the least burdensome method to determine WTG's net
October 9, 2019, Judge Satterwhite granted Plaintiffs'
motion to conduct net worth discovery. The order, in its
BE IT REMEMBERED that on this the 25th day of
September, 2019, came on to be heard Plaintiffs'
Motion to Conduct Net Worth Discovery for Gross Negligence
Claims Against Defendant WTG Fuels, Inc., and the Court
having reviewed the pleadings and heard the arguments of
counsel finds that said motion should be GRANTED on a limited
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion to
Conduct Net Worth Discovery for Gross Negligence Claims
Against Defendant WTG Fuels, Inc. is GRANTED. However,
it is limited to discovery of the Balance Sheet of WTG for
the current year and the preceding year only.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all documents responsive to this
request for production shall remain confidential and be on a