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More Positive Tests as Covid Disrupts Federal Trial in Texas

Nov. 14, 2020, 12:09 AM

At least six people involved in a federal jury trial in Texas have now tested positive for Covid-19, pushing back resumption of the case until month’s end.

The attorneys for both parties joined a telephone conference with Judge Amos L. Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman on Friday to discuss the status of the civil trial that was halted this week and now postponed until Nov. 30.

A public transcript of the call revealed that Michael Ernest Richardson, a partner at Beck Redden in Houston who represents the defendant, was among those who tested positive.

“I’m fortunate. I only have mild symptoms, and it seems to be getting better,” Richardson said on the call, according to the transcript. He also noted that two other members of the defense team, an attorney and a non-attorney had tested positive.

Maria Wyckoff Boyce, a partner Hogan Lovells in Houston who represents the plaintiff, said on the transcript her team received “only one more positive test, but a slew of negatives” since they last contacted the court.

Mazzant also said that one court employee that had contact with the jurors tested positive, and he had tested negative.

In light of the positive tests, the parties agreed to postpone the trial for another two weeks.

The court first confirmed on Thursday only two positive tests—one juror and one lawyer. The conference transcript revealed at least four more.

Several Covid-19 tests are still outstanding, according to the transcript. Mazzant said staff members are still waiting for results and Richardson indicated that one test is outstanding among the defense team.

The court previously asked jurors to get tested by Friday and report their results back to the court.

“I hope everyone who has tested positive will continue to have mild symptoms and — and hopefully everyone will have a speedy recovery too that has symptoms,” Mazzant said.

Boyce declined to comment through a spokesperson and Richardson didn’t respond to requests for comment. Clerk of Court David O’Toole also declined to comment further, referring questions to the transcript.

The case is ResMan, LLC v. Karya Property Management, LLC, E.D. Tex., No. 4:19-cv-00402, conference 11/13/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at