law sanctions cases | Rule 13 | Tex. R. Civ. P. 13 | death penalty sanctions | CPRC Chapter 10 Sanctions |
frivolous pleadings sanctions lack of good faith discovery abuse | frivolous appeal sanctions | sanctions in
health care liability medical malpractice lawsuits |
RULE 13 SANCTIONS - CASELAW SNIPPETS
Rule 13 permits a court, upon motion of a party or on its own initiative, to impose an
appropriate sanction against a party that files any "fictitious pleading"or makes
statements in a pleading that it knows to be groundless." Tex. R. Civ. P. 13.
We apply an abuse of discretion standard in reviewing an order imposing sanctions. Cire v. Cummings, 134
S.W.3d 835, 838 (Tex. 2004). Under this standard, the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence are not
independent grounds of error, but are relevant factors for determining whether the trial court abused its
discretion. Beaumont Bank, N.A. v. Buller, 806 S.W.2d 223, 226 (Tex. 1991). Our review of a sanctions order
is not limited to a trial court's findings of fact and conclusions of law; rather, we must independently review the
entire record to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion. Am. Flood Research, Inc. v. Jones,
192 S.W.3d 581, 583 (Tex. 2006) (per curiam).
In pertinent part Rule 13 provides:
The signatures of attorneys or parties constitute a certificate by them that they have read the pleading,
motion, or other paper; that to the best of their knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable
inquiry the instrument is not groundless and brought in bad faith or groundless and brought for the purpose of
harassment . . . . If a pleading, motion or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion
or upon its own initiative, after notice and hearing, shall impose an appropriate sanction available under Rule
215-2b, upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both. Courts shall presume that pleadings,
motions, and other papers are filed in good faith. No sanctions under this rule may be imposed except for
good cause, the particulars of which must be stated in the sanction order. "Groundless" for purposes of this
rule means no basis in law or fact and not warranted by good faith argument for the extension, modification, or
reversal of existing law.
To determine if a pleading is groundless, the trial court employs an objective analysis: that is, did the party
and counsel make a reasonable inquiry into the legal and factual basis of the claim? In re United Servs. Auto
Ass'n, 76 S.W.3d 112, 115 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 2002, orig. proceeding). In so doing, the court looks to the
facts available to the litigant and the circumstances at the time the suit was filed. Id.
The imposition of Rule 13 sanctions against parties filing frivolous claims accomplishes the dual function of
deterring similar conduct in the future and compensating the aggrieved party by reimbursing the costs
incurred in responding to baseless pleadings. Scott & White Mem'l Hosp. v. Schexnider, 940 S.W.2d 594,
596-597 (Tex. 1996). If the trial court finds a pleading is groundless and brought in bad faith or groundless
and brought for the purpose of harassment, it shall impose an appropriate sanction available under Rule
215(2)(b). See Tex. R. Civ. P. 13 and 215(2)(b). The trial court possesses authority under Rule 215(2)(b) to
"make such orders . . . as are just." See Tex. R. Civ. P. 215(2)(b). One sanction available to a trial court under
the rule is an award of "reasonable expenses, including attorney fees." Tex. R. Civ. P. 215(2)(b)(8).
Texas Causes of Action | 2011 Texas Supreme Court Opinions | 2011 Tex Sup Ct Per Curiams
Texas Caselaw Topics Pages | Texas Opinions homepage |