Trial court ordered to rule on plea to the jurisdiction within one day of order by Court of Appeals since it failed to rule for ten months

In Re: Texas Health Resources, 05-16-01135-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, October 12, 2016)

This is a mandamus matter and helpful to any litigators who have had difficulty getting a judge to rule on a dispositive motion.

Texas Health Resources (“THR”) was sued (the opinion does not say for what) and filed a plea to the jurisdiction. The court took it under advisement. The THR filed a motion for ruling, provided the trial court with supplemental briefing requested, and set the motion for a hearing. The trial court rescheduled the hearing twice with the final date set the day before a special trial setting of October 18th. THR filed the mandamus to try and force the trial court to rule on the plea prior to trial. While the Court of Appeals opinion comes a bit late (only 5 days before trial) it nonetheless, issued an opinion requiring a ruling the day after the opinion by 5:00 p.m. (October 13th).

Jurisdictional determinations should be made “as soon as practicable.”  Here, “… the trial court is aware of the plea and of THR’s motion for ruling on the plea. The plea has been ‘under advisement’ for nearly ten months and has, thus, been pending for a reasonable time. THR requested a ruling on the motion verbally and through a motion for ruling, and has attempted to schedule the motion for hearing. Those efforts have been thwarted by the trial court’s refusal to rule, cancellation of scheduled hearings, and setting the hearing for the day before trial. A ruling the day before trial is insufficient and unreasonable because a plea to the jurisdiction should be heard and determined well before the trial date…”  The Court of Appeals commanded the trial court rule within one day.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Justice Bridges, Justice Myers, and Justice Whitehill. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Bridges.  The docket page with the attorney information can be found here.

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