Party Has No Standing to Appeal Sanctions Against Its Attorneys

On Deck Capital, Inc. v. CWO Designer Landscapes LLC
Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-20-00471-CV (February 10, 2022)
Justices Reichek (opinion available here), Nowell, and Carlyle
When the day of trial arrived, the plaintiff had not timely responded to or supplemented its discovery responses. It became clear that, if trial proceeded, the court would exclude much of plaintiff’s anticipated evidence because of that failure to respond or supplement. When the trial court refused the plaintiff’s request for a continuance in order to supplement its discovery, the plaintiff filed a motion for non-suit. The parties disagreed about whether the non-suit should be with or without prejudice and whether discovery sanctions should be issued. Ultimately, the trial court dismissed the case without prejudice, but ordered discovery sanctions against the plaintiff’s law firm, “not the client.” The plaintiff appealed.

The Court of Appeals dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the plaintiff/appellant had no standing to appeal the sanctions order because the sanctions were imposed against the law firm, not the plaintiff. “An appellant is not harmed when sanctions are imposed solely against the appellant’s attorney” the Court explained, “and does not have standing to challenge an order imposing sanctions solely upon his attorney.”
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