Claims involving allegations of Texas employment discrimination can be very complicated when it comes to procedural matters. This is true for both the plaintiff and the defendant. If certain documents are not filed in a timely fashion, the consequences can be very costly. A plaintiff employee who does not file his or her claim within the time allowed by law may forfeit the right to sue. A defendant employer who does not file a timely answer can have a sizable judgment entered against it without having an opportunity to defend itself.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in a case recently under consideration by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas was a woman who filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the defendant employer in February 2017. When the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed, the clerk’s office issued a citation reflecting service by certified mail on the defendant’s registered agent for service of process. Process was served by a private process server, and, according to the process server, delivery was made on March 8, 2017. This was evidenced by the “green card” from the postal service, which the plaintiff filed with the court.
Because the defendant did not file an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint, the plaintiff moved for a default judgment. The trial court granted a default judgment to the plaintiff on the issue of liability in June 2017. In July 2017, a prove-up hearing was held on the issue of damages. Thereafter, the trial court entered a final judgment in the plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $423,460. The court clerk notified the defendant of the judgment by mailing a copy of the court’s order to the defendant’s registered agent for service of process. More than 90 days later, the defendant finally appeared in the case, seeking a new trial. The trial court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the motion because it was filed outside the extended filing window of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 306a(4).