In a per curiam opinion and without oral argument, the Texas Supreme Court has conditionally granted a writ of mandamus directing the Houston [14th] Court of Appeals to vacate its order quashing the plaintiff’s trial subpoena of a corporate representative residing within 150 miles of the Harris County Courthouse.

In re Zach Brown (No. 20-0992) arose from a lawsuit over personal injuries sustained in a collision between Brown and a FedEx truck. A week before trial, Brown served FedEx with a subpoena requiring a FedEx corporate executive living within the 150-mile limit to attend and testify at trial. FedEx moved to quash on the basis that Rule 199, TRCP, only authorizes a subpoena requiring a corporate representative to attend a properly noticed oral deposition, not to testify at trial. Brown argued that Rule 176.2(a) authorizes the issuance of a subpoena to command a person to “attend and give testimony at a deposition, hearing, or trial,” which covers a corporate representative residing within range of the subpoena power. The trial court agreed with Brown and quashed the subpoena. FedEx sought mandamus.

The court of appeals reversed and directed the trial court to quash the subpoena. The court’s analysis focused solely on Rule 199, which it interpreted, consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, 30(b)(6), that the only means of compelling a corporate representative to testify is by oral deposition. Brown then sought mandamus from SCOTX. The Court held that the court of appeals erred by failing to address Brown’s argument that Rule 176 confers the authority for a trial subpoena. Citing Rules 52.8(d) and 47.1, TRAP, the Court stated that “[W]hen granting relief in an original proceeding, ‘the court must hand down an opinion as in any other case. Such an opinion must address ‘every issue raised and necessary to final disposition of the appeal’” (citations omitted). Without commenting on the merits, SCOTX sent the case back to the court of appeals to vacate its order and consider Brown’s Rule 176 argument.

FedEx argued in the court of appeals that since Brown had already deposed FedEx’s safety manager, his subsequent subpoena request was unduly burdensome and costly. Additionally, FedEx asserted that the safety manager resided outside the range of the subpoena and the rules do not allow a party to subpoena another corporate representative for trial testimony who has no personal knowledge of relevant facts. We will keep any eye out for the court of appeals’ Rule 176 analysis.

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