Mandamus issued to compel discovery against property owner

In Re: Titus County, Texas, 06-13-00050-CV (Tex. App. – Texarkana, August 28, 2013).

This is really a trial procedural case for condemnation proceedings. Unless you’re a litigator or are involved in condemnation right now, this may not be of interest. For those who are interested the County initiated condemnation proceedings. During the proceedings, the County moved to depose one of the individuals with an interest in the land. The property owner filed a motion to quash which the trial court ultimately granted. The County filed this mandamus action to set aside the order and allow the deposition.

To prevail on its motion to quash, Priefert (property owner) was required to show that the deposition would cause undue burden, unnecessary expense, harassment, or an invasion of protected rights. Priefert asserts the rules governing apex depositions apply (corporate representative type depo). If the requesting party cannot show the deponent has a unique knowledge and that less intrusive means are unavailable an apex depo can be quashed. However, Priefert is a property owner in a condemnation proceeding and was sought not as a corporate representative, but as the owner. William D. Priefert, in his capacity as trustee of the Virginia M. Priefert Management Trust, is a named party in this lawsuit. William Priefert, individually, is also the owner of a remainder interest and title to his home site is there. The County also established (under mandamus standards) it had no adequate remedy of relief if mandamus is not issue to allow the discovery. The trial court abused its discretion in granting the motion to quash so the Court of Appeals issued a mandamus to allow the deposition.

If you would like to read this opinion click here.