Thompson Coe Obtains Texas Supreme Court Victory in Shooting Accident Suit

February 26, 2020 Press Release

On February 21, 2020, Dallas Partners Rick Harmon, Heather Phelps, and Cassie Dallas, and Austin Partner Wade Crosnoe obtained a significant appellate victory in the Texas Supreme Court for shooting range Alpine Industries, Inc. and its employee Lane Thomas Shinogle.

In the trial court, the shooting range and employee sought dismissal of negligence claims brought by a customer for injuries he sustained from an accidental shooting incident at the range. The shooting range and employee argued that dismissal was mandated by a statute requiring claimants in suits against sport shooting ranges to serve an expert report on each party within 90-days of filing suit. The customer argued that an agreed docket control order had extended the deadline for serving the report as to the shooting range and that the statute did not apply to the employee.

The Second Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, dismissing the claims against the shooting range but finding that the statute did not apply to the employee.

The Texas Supreme Court held that  the docket control order, which set the date for serving expert reports for testifying experts, did not extend the deadline for serving a 90-day statutory expert report because it did not explicitly reference the statutory deadline.

The Supreme Court’s decision partially upheld the Second Court of Appeals’s ruling dismissing the negligence claims against the shooting range but overruled the court’s decision to allow the claims against the employee to continue. The Court found that the statutory language requiring the expert report to address the conduct of each implicated defendant and allowing an implicated defendant to seek dismissal when no report is served necessarily allowed an employee whose conduct was implicated in the expert report to seek dismissal under the statute.

The case is Shinogle v. Whitlock, No. 18-0703, -- S.W.3d --, 2020 WL 855237 (Tex. 2020).

Link to opinion.