Managing Litigation Delays During the COVID-19 Emergency

Managing Litigation Delays During the COVID-19 Emergency

Managing Litigation Delays During the COVID-19 Emergency

Houston — March 23, 2020  The COVID-19 emergency has already resulted in the temporary closure of Texas public schools and a mandate from Governor Abbott that citizens avoid social gatherings of more than ten (10) people, eating in bars and restaurants, and visiting the gym. The public’s access to many government buildings, including state and federal courthouses, has also been impacted.

In light of the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation, the Texas Supreme Court has already issued five Emergency Orders regarding the function of state courts and application of statute of limitations, among other things. All five orders may be found on the Court’s website.

On March 19, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court ordered state courts not to conduct any “non-essential” hearings in person contrary to “local, state, or national directives” regarding social gathering size. The Texas Supreme Court’s order will significantly impact trials and hearings in civil cases until at least May 8, 2020 when the order is currently scheduled to expire. A sizeable number of county courts, municipal courts, and district courts have already cancelled trials and hearings into April 2020. The most recent information regarding each court’s operation during the COVID-19 emergency can also be found on the Court’s website.

New court procedures are likely to impact the pace of many civil lawsuits. However, the COVID-19 policies and procedures currently in place allow litigants to continue to push their cases forward in a number of ways, should they elect to do so. Many courts will continue to hold hearing dockets telephonically. Depositions and mediations can also be conducted remotely in many instances. And it is also possible that courts may be willing to conduct bench trials by remote means.

For more information on ways to minimize litigation delays because of current COVID-19 restrictions, contact your counsel to discuss the Presiding Judge’s current policies and procedures and options for continuing discovery and settlement meetings by video conference.

For more information please contact Brittany Cooperrider.

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Founded in 1990, with offices in Houston and Austin, Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law, is a corporate law firm and recognized market leader in Texas construction law.  The firm focuses on the concentrated disciplines of commercial litigation, construction, commercial real estate, corporate and business transactions, with additional emphasis on related issues including bankruptcy and insolvency, energy, employment and capital formation. A seasoned team of attorneys provides timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems facing entrepreneurs and middle-market industry leaders throughout the state and the nation. For more information please visit www.andrewsmyers.com.