The Tyler Court of Appeals has held that a trial court has no authority to extend the deadline for a party to respond to an offer of settlement made under Texas Civil Procedure Rule 167. In In re Complete Rx, Ltd., Good Shepherd Hospital sued Complete Rx for an accounting. Complete RX invoked Rule 167 and Chapter 42 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code to make a settlement offer, and establised a deadline by which the offer had to be accepted. Good Shepherd filed a motion to modify the deadline until after a court-appointed auditor had rendered his final report. The trial court granted the motion and extended the deadline. Complete Rx filed a petition for writ of mandamus to challenge the order extending the deadline for response to the settlement offer.
Tthe court of appeals relied upon the fact that Rule 167.5 allows for modification of only two deadlines–the time for filing a declaration under Rule 167.2(a), and the time for making an offer. Good Shepherd pointed out that while Rule 167 did not explicity refer to extending the deadline for responding to offers, the legislation authorizing adoption of Rule 167 does. The court of appeals rejected this argument, pointing out that it has no authority to modify the existing rule of procedure, and that recognition of any authority permitting extension of this deadline would be "tantamount to amending established rules of procedure," which is something only the Supreme Court of Texas may do. Because Complete Rx had no adequate remedy by appeal to challenge the trial court’s order, the court of appeals granted the petition for mandamus. The court’s opinion may be found here.