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Texas Supreme Court Grants Mandamus Relief in Medical Expense Affidavit Case

The Texas Supreme Court has granted mandamus relief in a case involving the admissibility of a counteraffidavit in a personal injury case. The case, In re Chefs’ Produce of Hous., Inc., centered around a car accident involving Antonio Estrada and Mario Rangel, who was driving a box truck for Chefs’ Produce. Estrada sued both Rangel and Chefs’ Produce for negligence, alleging that Rangel’s actions caused the accident.

Estrada filed an affidavit under Section 18.001 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, stating that he had incurred reasonable and necessary medical expenses due to the accident. Chefs’ Produce filed a counteraffidavit challenging Estrada’s expenses, retaining an anesthesiologist and pain management doctor as the counteraffiant.

Estrada moved to strike the counteraffidavit and testimony, and the trial court granted the motion, precluding the counteraffiant from testifying at trial. Chefs’ Produce moved for reconsideration, arguing that the trial court’s decision was in conflict with a recent Texas Supreme Court opinion. The trial court denied the motion, and Chefs’ Produce sought mandamus relief in the court of appeals.

The Supreme Court held that the counteraffidavit complied with Section 18.001(f) and provided reasonable notice of Chefs’ Produce’s basis for disputing the initial affidavit’s claims. The Court further held that the inclusion of a causation opinion in an otherwise compliant Section 18.001(f) counteraffidavit is not a proper basis for striking it. Finally, the Court held that Chefs’ Produce lacked an adequate appellate remedy because the trial court’s order effectively foreclosed Chefs’ Produce from presenting rebuttal evidence.

The Court granted Chefs’ Produce’s petition for writ of mandamus and ordered the trial court to vacate its order striking the counteraffidavit and testimony. The ruling underscores the importance of complying with Section 18.001 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code in personal injury cases and clarifies the admissibility requirements for counteraffidavits.

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