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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Charles Durham sued Lauren Peralta after the two were in a car accident. Durham sent Peralta requests for admission, asking Peralta to admit that she failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to maintain a safe distance and failed to properly apply her brakes. He also asked Peralta to admit that she caused the accident. Peralta did not object, though she denied each matter. In her deposition, Peralta admitted that she was not watching where she was going when she hit Durham. Then, just before trial, she stipulated to liability. After instructing the jury that Peralta was at fault, the jury awarded Durham $3,365 in damages. Durham then filed a motion to recover expenses of proof under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 215.4(b). Durham argued that, based on Peralta’s admission in her deposition, and her ultimate stipulation to liability, that she had no good-faith basis to deny Durham’s requests for admission. Peralta countered that she had a right to make Durham prove his case, and because he was never forced to prove liability at trial, he is not entitled to expenses. The trial court granted the motion, awarding $1,000 in expenses. Peralta appeals. She argues that the trial court abused its discretion because the requests for admission improperly asked her to admit she had no defense, and that she is being punished for exercising her right to make a general denial. She also argues that because of her stipulation, Durham was not saddled with the cost of proving wrongful conduct or negligence at trial. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court notes that Peralta did not object to the requests for admission, so the alleged objectionable nature of the questions could not have been grounds for relief under Rule 215.4(b). Furthermore, though a defendant has a right to force a plaintiff to prove his case, she also has an obligation to answer requests for admission in good faith to the extent the information is within her possession or easily attainable. “In this case, it was within Peralta’s knowledge when she responded to the requests for admission whether she failed to maintain a proper lookout, maintain a safe distance, and apply her brakes properly at the time of the accident. By failing to admit to these matters until immediately before trial, she forced Durham to unnecessarily incur expenses in preparing to prove her negligence at trial.” As for Peralta’s second argument, the court finds her reading of Rule 215.4(b) is too limited. The rule states in part that expenses may be awarded if the requesting party proves the truth of a matter previously denied in response to a request for admission. Though Peralta’s admission, her conduct was proved for purposes of the trial against her, but allowing her to escape Rule 215.4(b) by stipulating to liability on the eve of trial, the purpose of Rule 215.4(b), which involves judicial economy, would be thwarted. OPINION:Morris, J.; Morris, FitzGerald and Francis, JJ.

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