Fourth Court of Appeals holds trial court lost power over case three years before trial date.

This is a plea to the jurisdiction case which will probably only be interesting to litigators. It deals with when a trial court loses plenary power to change an order on a plea.  The Plaintiff filed suit in 2005.  The case does not reflect the type of claims.  The trial court initially granted the plea on January 10, 2008 and ordering that “each and every of Plaintiff’s claims and causes of action against Defendants are dismissed.” The court notes that for unknown reasons, on February 13, 2008 the court withdrew the ruling and the case went forward.  It does not appear any interlocutory appeal was filed.  Then on the day of trial (December 5, 2011), the trial judge, before trial, simply granted the plea noting it should have been granted initially. The Plaintiff appealed.

The County successfully argued that the trial court lost plenary power way back in 2008. Absent a proper extension motion (like a motion for new trial) a trial court only has plenary power to change an order for 30 days. Despite the Plaintiffs assertion that he filed a motion to “reinstate” the appellate record and docket sheet show nothing was filed.  Therefore the trial court lost plenary power in 2008 and everything after that date is void.

If you would like to read this case click here