Much ado is being made about the recent changes to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, especially the new dismissal rule (TRCP 91a, for more information see https://texappblog.com/2013/05/07/trcp-91a-a-state-court-12b6/) and the expedited action rule (TRCP 169). But one often overlooked procedural rule implemented with the dismissal and expedited action rules has some attorneys wondering why their discovery is not being answered.
Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 47, entitled (innocuously enough) “Claims for Relief,” was revised as part of an implementation package to allow courts to triage cases into expedited and non-expedited actions:
Rule 47. Claims for Relief
An original pleading which sets forth a claim for relief, whether an original petition, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, shall contain:
(a) a short statement of the cause of action sufficient to give fair notice of the claim involved;
(b) a statement that the damages sought are within the jurisdictional limits of the court;
(c) except in suits governed by the Family Code, a statement that the party seeks:
(1) only monetary relief of $100,000 or less, including damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees; or
(2) monetary relief of $100,000 or less and non-monetary relief; or
(3) monetary relief over $100,000 but not more than $200,000; or
(4) monetary relief over $200,000 but not more than $1,000,000; or
(5) monetary relief over $1,000,000; and
(d) a demand for judgment for all the other relief to which the party deems himself entitled.
With the exception of subsection (c)—the procedural rule for implementing the expedited action rule—this should all sound very familiar to Texas practitioners. However, it is the text after the rule that carries the “bite”:
. . . A party that fails to comply with (c) may not conduct discovery until the party’s pleading is amended to comply.
You read that correctly. No discovery until your pleading (filed after March 1, 2013) is brought into compliance with the new rule. More than a few attorneys have been confounded in recent months by the objection “Discovery is not permitted at this time in accordance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.” Thankfully, you will not be among them.
The full text of the rule can be found here: http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/miscdocket/13/13902200.pdf