Writ of Mandamus Granted Under the Apex-Deposition Doctrine
Jan 30, 2023
Austin partner Bill Mennucci obtained a writ of mandamus in the Third Court of Appeals at Austin, which directed the trial court to vacate its order compelling the “apex” depositions of a corporate defendant’s president and vice president.
This case was brought when two individuals were injured when their vehicle was struck by a pizza delivery vehicle. Plaintiffs sued both the pizza delivery driver and pizza shop owner Dreamworks, which owns as franchisee many pizza stores in Central Texas. Plaintiffs secured an order from the trial court compelling the “apex” depositions of Dreamworks’ corporate president and vice-president, even though those individuals denied any personal knowledge of facts relevant to the case..
Before being entitled to take an “apex” deposition of a corporate officer who has denied personal knowledge of relevant facts, a party must show that the officer has unique or superior knowledge of discoverable information, and that the party has tried, but failed, to gain the relevant information through less intrusive discovery methods.
The court of appeals determined the record did not support Plaintiffs’ contention that the president and vice president had unique or superior knowledge of the driver’s hiring, training, and supervision. The court of appeals further determined Plaintiffs had not made adequate attempts to secure the discoverable information through less intrusive means. Accordingly, the court of appeals directed the trial court to vacate its order compelling the apex-depositions, saving the client from substantial time and expense in preparation and presentation of the corporate officers for depositions.