Sanctions for Filing Groundless Pleading In Court - Rule 13

Whether to impose rule 13 (Texas Rules of Civil Procedure) sanctions is within the trial court's sound discretion. See Monroe v. Grider, 884 S.W.2d 811, 816 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1994, writ denied). We will not set aside a sanctions order under rule 13 unless an abuse of discretion is shown. See Falk & Mayfield L.L.P. v. Molzan, 974 S.W.2d 821, 824 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1998, pet. denied). Nonetheless, "rule 13 imposes a duty on the trial court to point out with particularity the acts or omissions on which sanctions are based." Zarsky v. Zurich Management, Inc., 829 S.W.2d 398, 399 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1992, no writ). Requiring the trial court to state the particulars of the good cause for imposing sanctions is mandatory. See GTE Communications Sys. Corp. v. Curry, 819 S.W.2d 652, 654 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1991, no writ). A mere statement in the order that good cause was shown is insufficient to sustain the sanctions order. See id. A party cannot obtain rule 13 sanctions unless the party proves that the claims are groundless and that the opposing party brought the claim in bad faith or to harass the party. See TEX. R. CIV. P.13. One purpose of rule 13 is to check abuses in the pleading process. See McCain v. NME Hospitals, Inc., 856 S.W.2d 751, 757 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1993, no writ). As previously noted, rule 13 authorizes sanctions, available under rule 215(2)(b) , against an attorney, a represented party, or both, who files a pleading that is groundless and brought in bad faith or groundless and brought for the purpose of harassment. The trial court must examine the circumstances existing when the litigant filed the pleadings to determine whether rule 13 sanctions are proper. See Monroe, 884 S.W.2d at 817. Bad faith does not exist when a party exercises bad judgment or negligence; "it is the conscious doing of a wrong for dishonest, discriminatory, or malicious purposes." Falk, 974 S.W.2d at 828, quoting Campos v. Ysleta Gen. Hosp., Inc., 879 S.W.2d 67, 71 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1994, writ denied). Courts must presume that papers are filed in good faith, and the party moving for sanctions bears the burden of overcoming this presumption. See Tarrant County v. Chancey, 942 S.W.2d 151, 154 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 1997, no pet.).