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Rule 190. Discovery Limitations (Aug1998)

TEXT

190.1 Discovery Control Plan Required. Every case must be governed by a discovery control plan as provided in this Rule. A plaintiff must allege in the first numbered paragraph of the original petition whether discovery is intended to be conducted under Level 1, 2, or 3 of this Rule.

190.2 Discovery Control Plan – Suits Involving $50,000 or Less (Level 1).

(a) Application. This subdivision applies to:

(1) any suit in which all plaintiffs affirmatively plead that they seek only monetary relief aggregating $50,000 or less, excluding costs, pre­judgment interest and attorneys' fees, and

(2) any suit for divorce not involving children in which a party pleads that the value of the marital estate is more than zero but not more than $50,000.

(b) Exceptions. This subdivision does not apply if:

(1) the parties agree that Rule 190.3 should apply;

(2) a discovery control plan is ordered by the court under Rule 190.4;

(3) any party files a pleading or an amended or supplemental pleading that seeks relief other than that to which this subdivision applies.

A pleading, amended pleading (including trial amendment), or supplemental pleading that renders this subdivision no longer applicable may not be filed without leave of court less than 45 days before the date set for trial. Leave may be granted only if good cause for filing the pleading outweighs any prejudice to an opposing party.

(c) Limitations. Discovery is subject to the limitations provided elsewhere in these rules and to the following additional limitations:

(1) Discovery period. All discovery must be con­ducted during the discovery period, which begins when the suit is filed and continues until 30 days before the date set for trial.

(2) Total time for oral depositions. Each party may have no more than six hours in total to examine and cross-examine all witnesses in oral depositions. The parties may agree to expand this limit up to ten hours in total, but not more except by court order. The court may modify the deposition hours so that no party is given unfair advantage.

(3) Interrogatories. Any party may serve on any other party no more than 25 written interrogatories, excluding interrogatories asking a party only to identify or authenticate specific documents. Each discrete subpart of .an interrogatory is considered a separate interrogatory.

(d) Reopening discovery. When the filing of a pleading or an amended or supplemental pleading renders this subdivision no longer applicable, the discovery period reopens, and discovery must be completed within the limitations provided in Rules 190.3 or 190.4, whichever is applicable. Any person previously deposed may be redeposed. On motion of any party, the court should continue the trial date if necessary to permit completion of discovery.

190.3 Discovery Control Plan – By Rule (Level 2).

(a) Application. Unless a suit is governed by a discovery control plan under Rules 190.2 Or 190.4, discovery must be conducted in accordance with this subdivision.

(b) Limitations. Discovery is subject to the limitations provided elsewhere in these rules and to the following additional limitations:

(1) Discovery period. All discovery must be con­ducted during the discovery period, which begins when suit is filed and continues until: (A) 30 days before the date set for trial, in cases under the Family Code; or (B) in other cases, the earlier of

(i) 30 days before trial, or

(ii) nine months after the earlier of the date of the first oral deposition or the due date of the first response to written discovery.

(2) Total time for oral depositions. Each side may have no more than 50 hours in oral depositions to examine and cross-examine parties on the opposing side, experts designated by those parties, and persons who are subject to those parties' control. "Side" refers to all the litigants with generally common interests in the litigation. If one side designate more than two experts, the opposing side may have an additional six hours of total deposition time for each additional expert designated. The court may modify the deposition hours and must do so when a side or party would be given unfair advantage.

(3) Interrogatories. Any party may serve on any other party no more than 25 written interrogatories, excluding interrogatories asking a party only to identify or authenticate specific docu­ments. Each discrete subpart of an interrogatory is considered a separate interrogatory.

190.4 Discovery Control Plan – By Order (Level 3).

(a) Application. The court must, on a party's motion, and may, on its own initiative, order that discovery be conducted in accordance with a discovery control plan tailored to the circumstances of the specific suit. The parties may submit an agreed order to the court for its consideration. The court should act on a party's motion or agreed order under this sub­division as promptly as reasonably possible.

(b) Limitations. The discovery control plan may address any issue concerning discovery or the matters listed in Rule 166, and may change any limitation on the time for or amount of discovery set forth in these rules. The discovery limitations of Rule 190.2, if applicable, or otherwise of Rule 190.3 apply unless specifically changed in the discovery control plan ordered by the court. The plan must include a trial date, a discovery period during which all discovery must be conducted, appropriate limits on the amount of discovery, and deadlines for joining additional parties, amending or supplementing pleadings, and designating expert witnesses.

190.5 Modification of Discovery Control Plan. The court may modify a discovery control plan at any time and must do so when the interest of justice requires. The court must allow additional discovery:

(a) related to new, amended or supplemental pleadings, or new information disclosed in a discovery response or in an amended or supplemental response, if:

(1) the pleadings or responses were made after the deadline for completion of discovery or so near­ly before that deadline that an adverse party does not have an adequate opportunity to conduct discovery related to the new matters, and

(2) the adverse party would be unfairly prejudiced without such additional discovery;

(b) regarding matters that have changed materially after the discovery cutoff if trial is set or postponed so that the trial date is more than three months after the discovery period ends.

190.6 Certain Types of Discovery Excepted. This rule's limitations on discovery do not apply to or include dis­covery conducted under Rule 202 ("Depositions Before Suit"), or Rule 621a ("Discovery and Enforcement of Judgment"). But Rule 202 cannot be used to circumvent the limitations of this rule.

Aug. 4, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.

Notes and Comments

Comments to 1999 change:

1. Rule 190.2 does not apply to suits for injunctive relief or divorces involving children. The requirement of an affir­mative pleading of limited relief (e.g.: "Plaintiff affirmatively pleads that he seeks only monetary relief aggregating $50,000 or less, excluding costs, pre-judgment interest and attorneys' fees") does not conflict with other pleading requirements, such as Rule 47 and Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 4590i, § 5.01. In a suit to which Rule 190.2 applies, the relief awarded cannot exceed the relief pleaded because the purpose of the rule, unlike Rule 47, is to bind the pleader to a maximum claim. Thus, the rule in Greenhalgh v. Service Lloyds Ins. Co., 787 S.W.2d 938 (Tex. 1990), does not apply.

2. "Discrete subparts" of interrogatories are counted as single interrogatories, but not every separate factual inquiry is a discrete subpart. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a). While not susceptible of precise definition, see Braden v. Downey, 811 S.W.2d 922, 927-928 (Tex. 1991), a "discrete subpart" is, in general, one that calls for information that is not logically or factually related to the primary interrogatory.

3. As other rules make clear, unless otherwise ordered or agreed, parties seeking discovery must serve requests suffi­ciently far in advance of the end of the discovery period that the deadline for responding will be within the discovery period.

4. Use of forms of discovery other than depositions and interrogatories, such as requests for disclosure, admissions, or production of documents, are not restricted in Levels 1 and 2. But depositions on written questions cannot be used to circumvent the limits on interrogatories.

5. The concept of "side" in Rule 190.3(b)(2) borrows from Rule 233, which governs the allocation of peremptory strikes, and from Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a)(2). In most cases there are only two sides - plaintiffs and defendants. In complex cases, however, there may be more than two sides, such as when defendants have sued third parties not named by plaintiffs, or when defendants have sued each other. As an example, if PI and P2 sue Dl, D2, and D3, and D1 sues D2 and D3, Ps would together be entitled to depose Ds and others permitted by the rule (i.e., Ds' experts and persons subject to Ds' con­trol) for 50 hours, and Ds would together be entitled to depose Ps and others for 50 hours. D1 would also be entitled to depose D2 and D3 and others for 50 hours on matters in controversy among them, and D2 and D3 would together be entitled to depose Dl and others for 50 hours.

6. Any matter listed in Rule 166 may be addressed in an order issued under Rule 190.4. A pretrial order under Rule 166 may be used in individual cases regardless of the discovery level.

7. For purposes of defining discovery periods, "trial" does not include summary judgment.

AMENDMENTS

Nov. 9, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999

Dec. 31, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999