Aronoff v. Texas Turnpike Authority

In Aronoff v. Texas Turnpike Authority, 299 S.W.2d 342 (Tex. Civ. App.--Dallas 1957, no writ), the appellants timely requested a jury. The appellee expected a jury trial and joined with the appellants in seeking a jury trial. In response to the request, the trial court set the case for trial. In Aronoff, the record showed that the appellants, the appellee, and the trial court all understood and anticipated that the trial would be to a jury. However, on the morning of trial, the trial court discovered that no jury fee had been paid. Although a jury was available, the trial court informed the parties that the case would be tried to the court. The appellants objected, paid the jury fee, and filed a motion requesting a jury trial. The appellee informed the trial court that it had prepared for a jury trial and that it was willing to go forward with either a nonjury or a jury trial. The appellee also stated that it would agree to a continuance of the trial so that a jury trial could be set at a later date. However, the trial court overruled the appellants' motion requesting a jury trial. The court of appeals held that the trial court had abused its discretion in denying the appellants' request for a jury trial. Id. at 344-46. Given the appellee's willingness to proceed to a jury trial and to postpone the case if necessary, the court concluded that granting a jury trial would not have injured the appellee. Id. at 345. Based on a consideration of the entire record, the court also concluded that granting a jury trial would not have disrupted the trial court's docket or seriously interfered with and impeded the ordinary handling of the trial court's business. Id.