Texas' Expedited Civil Action Program Goes Into Effect Following Considerable Comment

April 23, 2013

In November, the Texas Supreme Court issued long-awaited rules for expedited actions, proposing a mandatory expedited process for cases of $100,000 or less. The Texas Supreme Court has since issued revised final rules, which became effective March 1, 2013. Despite considerable public commentary on the mandatory nature of the rules, the Expedited Actions process under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 169 remains mandatory in cases where “all claimants, other than counter-claimants, affirmatively plead that they seek only monetary relief aggregating $100,000 or less, including damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees.” While the rules remain mandatory, with a limit on recovery of $100,000, the comments to the rules were revised to offer more guidance on when “there is good cause to remove the case from the process or extend the time limit for trial.”

The biggest revision is with respect to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The prior version provided that the court must not require the parties to engage in ADR unless the parties have agreed to do so or are required by contract. The final rule provides that the court may refer the case unless the parties have agreed not to engage in ADR, with some limitations on duration and cost. The final rules have also expanded the trial time limit from five hours per side to eight.