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Texas Supreme Court Explains Defendant’s Responsibility to Name Responsible Third-Party Within Allotted Time

Texas’s Supreme Court recently considered a Texas personal injury case in which the defendant attempted to name another individual as a responsible third-party after the statute of limitations governing the plaintiff’s claim had expired. The court had to determine if the defendant should be allowed to bring in the third-party, or if by waiting until after the statute of limitations expired resulted in the forfeiture of this right.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sued a restaurant after she was injured when a television fell off the wall and hit her. During discovery, when the woman asked who installed the television, the restaurant stated that it was installed by a certain individual. However, the restaurant also stated that it believed the parties had been correctly named, did not name any other potentially parties, and stated that it would supplement its response with the name of a responsible third-party. The restaurant did not supplement its responses before the statute of limitations expired.

Two weeks after the statute of limitations had expired, the restaurant moved for leave to designate the individual as a responsible third-party and it supplemented its discovery responses. The plaintiff argued that it was too late for the defendant to designate another responsible party because the statute of limitations had expired and the defendant failed to timely disclose that the individual might be designated as a responsible third-party.

Naming a Responsible Third Party

Texas’s Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.011(6) allows a defendant to name a responsible third-party that the defendant alleges caused or contributed to the harm and bring that party into the lawsuit, essentially as an additional defendant. If a responsible third-party is named, a defendant can introduce evidence concerning the third-party’s fault, allowing a jury to “apportion responsibility to the third party even if that person has not been joined as a party to the lawsuit.” A plaintiff can also join the party as an additional defendant.

However, a plaintiff cannot join a third-party after the statute of limitations has expired. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.004(d) states that a defendant cannot designate a responsible third-party after the statute of limitations has expired if the defendant failed to timely disclose that the person may be designated as a responsible third-party. Therefore, a defendant cannot name a responsible third-party after the statute of limitations has passed if it failed to comply with its obligations to timely disclose the name of the responsible third-party.

The Court’s Holding

Texas’s Supreme Court held that the restaurant failed to comply with its obligations to timely disclose that the named individual was a responsible third-party. It failed to supplement its response naming a responsible third-party before the statute of limitations had run. Therefore, the restaurant waited too long to name a third-party and could no longer designate the individual as a responsible third-party.

Contact a San Antonio Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident, contact a San Antonio personal injury attorney. At the law firm of Carabin Shaw, we aggressively represent individuals across Texas that have suffered catastrophic personal injuries and wrongful deaths. We are dedicated to advocating for the rights of individuals injured or wrongfully killed in accidents. We will take a case to trial and beyond if an insurance company wrongfully refuses to honor or resolve your claim. Call us at 1-800-862-1260 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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