Cases Dealing With ''Mistake of Law'' In Texas

In Bank One, Texas, N.A. v. Moody, 830 S.W.2d 81, 84 (Tex. 1992), the court expressly held that a mistake of law, in contrast to ignorance of the law, can be sufficient to meet the accident or mistake standard set out in Craddock v. Sunshine Bus Lines, Inc., 134 Tex. 388, 392-93, 133 S.W.2d 124, 126 (1939). That rule has been applied by several Texas courts. See: Angelo v. Champion Restaurant Equip. Co., 713 S.W.2d 96, 97 (Tex. 1986) (mistaken belief that paying underlying claim was sufficient answer); Costley v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co., 894 S.W.2d 380, 383 (Tex.App.--Amarillo 1994, writ denied); Texas State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Martinez, 658 S.W.2d 277, 280-81 (Tex.App.--Corpus Christi 1983, writ ref'd n.r.e.) (mistaken belief that exclusive venue rested in county other than the county of suit); State v. Sledge, 982 S.W.2d 911, 915 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1998, no pet.) (misinterpretation of effect of trial setting notice was mistake justifying new trial after default). Roberts v. Medical City Dallas Hosp., Inc., 988 S.W.2d 398 (Tex.App.--Texarkana 1999, pet. denied), was a medical malpractice case where the plaintiff failed to file an expert's report due to his misunderstanding of the nature of the document required by the statute. The court found his failure to file the report was the result of accident or mistake because he knew an expert report was required but, due to his failure to read the applicable statute, the document he sought to file failed to satisfy the statute. Id. at 403. The court held the attorney's failure to read the statute, while "certainly negligent," did not demonstrate conscious indifference. Id.