Texas Supreme Court Issues Emergency Order Regarding COVID-19, Extending All Civil Statutes of Limitation

Houston, TX – On Wednesday, April 1, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued another “Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster” mandating that Texas trial courts toll all deadlines for the filing or service of any civil causes of action from March 13 through June 1 (Misc. Docket No. 20-9051). The April 1 Order specifically excepts appellate deadlines, although the Order mandates that any requests for appellate deadline extensions “should be generously granted.”

The Court’s April 1 Order not only extends the application of the tolling period through June 1, but it now mandates it. Under its prior, March 13 Order, the Texas Supreme Court gave district courts permission to extend any filing or service deadlines. (Misc. Docket Nos. 20-9042 & 20-007). But the Court’s April 1 Order now responds to several Texas attorney groups, including the State Bar of Texas, which expressed concerns that the permissive language in the March 13 Order could lead to different applications of the statute of limitations in every county—or even between judges in the same county—leaving both courts and litigants in an uncertain position as to when to file. Due to the Court’s permissive language, the nebulous standard for permitting a late filing, and dire consequences for filing after the limitations period, MH’s March 16, 2020 article entitled “Texas Supreme Court Issues Emergency Order Regarding COVID-19, Potentially Extending All Applicable Statutes of Limitation” advised litigants to timely file, if at all possible. The Court’s amended April 1 Order, with its mandatory language, is much welcome relief.

The Order can be accessed here: https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446315/209051.pdf. If you would like to learn more about how this Order affects your case, the attorneys at McDowell Hetherington are ready to answer your questions. We will continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on litigation in Texas and throughout the country.

For more information, please contact McDowell Hetherington attorney David McDowell, Will Thomas, or Emil Sadykhov.