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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The underlying case was a personal injury lawsuit arising out of an automobile accident in which plaintiffs Florysbel and Yzabel Vazquez were struck by a vehicle owned by A.A.R. Medical-A. Action Rentals, Inc., and American Medical Wholesale, Inc., and driven by Christopher Makris (collectively, Makris). On June 8, 2006, the trial court in a signed order demanded that Dr. A.R. Garza-Vale, a nonparty expert for Makris, produce his personal 1099 Forms for the tax years 2001 through 2005; all medical review reports prepared by Garza-Vale for the last three years beginning on July 1, 2003; all depositions given by Garza-Vale for the last three years beginning on July 1, 2003; all correspondence between Garza-Vale and counsel for Makris, pertaining to any cases in which Garza-Vale reviewed records, conducted an independent medical examination (IME) or gave a deposition during the last three years beginning on July 1, 2003; and all correspondence between Garza-Vale and any law firm or attorney hired by State Farm to defend a State Farm insured pertaining to any cases in which Garza-Vale reviewed records, conducted an IME or gave a deposition for any of their clients during the last three years beginning on July 1, 2003. The plaintiffs sought the designated documents under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 192.3(e)(5) to show bias on the part of Garza-Vale. Makris filed objections, arguing that the requested documents were irrelevant and not likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence in this suit. Makris also objected that the production request was overly broad, unduly burdensome and harassing in nature. After a hearing, the trial court overruled all of Makris’ objections, except that it sustained the objection to production of Garza-Vale’s entire tax returns and only ordered production of his 1099 Forms. Makris subsequently sought mandamus relief to overturn the trial court’s order. The 4th Court of Appeals granted temporary relief and stayed the order. In its mandamus petition, Makris asserted it was entitled to relief, because the trial court’s discovery order was not based on any evidence of bias by Garza-Vale and was not reasonably tailored to include only relevant material. HOLDING:The court granted the writ of mandamus and ordered the trial court to vacate its document production order dated June 8, 2006. The court began by reciting settled case law that mandamus relief is appropriate only if the trial court abused its discretion or violated a legal duty, and there is no adequate remedy at law. A trial court’s discovery ruling, the court further stated, that requires production beyond what procedural rules permit is an abuse of discretion and may be subject to mandamus relief. The plaintiffs asserted that Makris did not show the trial court clearly abused its discretion by ordering production of the documents because they showed the documents are relevant to establish Garza-Vale’s bias “as a defense witness.” Specifically, they argued they produced evidence that Garza-Vale “derives a significant portion of his income from his work as a professional defense witness and as such, [they] are entitled to explore any potential bias in favor of his employer.” They further contended that Garza-Vale’s denial of any bias in favor of the defense is sufficient to make his financial information relevant to the issue of bias. The court did not find the plaintiffs’ arguments persuasive. The court stated that Rule 192.3(e)(5) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure does not overrule the Texas Supreme Court’s holding in Russell v. Young that personal financial records of a nonparty witness are not discoverable for the sole purpose of showing bias. Therefore, the court stated that in order to obtain discovery of personal documents from a nonparty expert solely for impeachment purposes, the party seeking the documents must first present evidence raising the possibility that the expert is biased. The plaintiffs contended they showed Garza-Vale’s potential for bias through his denial of any bias in favor of defendants and his deposition testimony in which he admitted deriving a significant portion of his income from medical consulting work for litigation. The court concluded the record contained no evidence that Garza-Vale was biased in favor of the defendants. At most, the court found that his deposition testimony showed that he receives a significant amount of income from litigation consultation. The court concluded that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering discovery of a nonparty expert witness’ personal financial documents and expert reports and correspondence from other unrelated cases without first requiring some evidence of the witness’ bias. When a discovery order compels production of irrelevant documents, the court held, there is no adequate remedy by appeal and mandamus is appropriate. Accordingly, the court conditionally granted the writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its June 8, 2006, order requiring Garza-Vale to produce the designated documents. OPINION:Speedlin, J.; Angelini, Speedlin and Simmons, J.J.

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