The New Texas Expedited Trial Rule’s Effect On Subcontractors And Suppliers

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It has been said many times “the wheels of justice grind slowly.”  Indeed most cases take well over a year, and some a few years, to try.  To help solve this problem the Texas Legislature created a new procedural rule to expedite the trial of certain claims.  Rule 169 of Texas Civil Procedure, entitled “Expedited Actions,” is a new rule that applies to actions in which “all claimants” affirmatively plead “they seek only monetary relief aggregating $100,000 or less” (including penalties, costs, expenses and attorney fees).  However, it does not apply to claims arising out of the Property Code.  This would exclude claims based on mechanic’s liens, mineral liens, property code private payment bonds, the Trust Fund Act, and the Prompt Pay Act.  However, the government code is not excluded from the new rule, thus claims on public bonds may be tried on an expedited basis under the new rule.  Claims based on an unpaid account or personal guaranties may also be tried on an expedited basis under Rule 169.  

The bottom line is Rule 169 probably will not apply to many small collection lawsuits filed by subcontractors and suppliers because these lawsuits typically contain at least some property code (and therefore exempt) claims.