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Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp.

Supreme Court of Texas

January 26, 2000, Argued ; February 1, 2001, Delivered

NO. 99-0406 - consolidated with - NO. 99-0461

Opinion

 [*192]  In these two consolidated cases we revisit the persistent problem of determining when a judgment rendered without a conventional trial on the merits is final for purposes of appeal. We consider only cases in which one final and appealable judgment can be rendered and not cases, like some probate and receivership proceedings, in which multiple judgments final for purposes of appeal can be rendered on certain discrete issues. 1 And we consider a judgment's finality only for purposes of appeal and not for other purposes, such as issue and claim preclusion. 2 In Mafrige v. Ross, 3 we held that a summary judgment [**2]  is final if it contains language purporting to dispose of all claims and parties. We gave as one example of such language what we have called a "Mother Hubbard" clause 4 -- a recitation that all relief not expressly granted is denied. 5 Since then, the routine inclusion of this general statement in otherwise plainly interlocutory orders and its ambiguity in many contexts have rendered it inapt for determining finality when there has not been a conventional trial. We no longer believe that a Mother Hubbard clause in an order or in a judgment issued without a full trial can be taken to indicate finality. We therefore hold that in cases in which only one final and appealable judgment can be rendered, a judgment issued without a conventional trial is final for purposes of appeal if and only if either it actually disposes of all claims and parties then before the court, regardless of its language, or it states with unmistakable clarity that it is a final judgment  [*193]  as to all claims and all parties. In the two cases before us, the court of appeals concluded that judgments that do not meet this test were final and dismissed the appeals as having been untimely perfected. 6 We reverse and [**3]  remand for consideration of the merits of the appeals.

Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp.

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39 S.W.3d 191 *; 2001 Tex. LEXIS 6 **; 44 Tex. Sup. J. 364

DOUGLAS LEHMANN AND VIRGINIA LEHMANN, PETITIONERS v. HAR-CON CORPORATION, RESPONDENT; MELVIN G. HARRIS AND HELENA M. HARRIS, PETITIONERS v. HARBOUR TITLE COMPANY, RESPONDENT

Notice:  [**1]  

Prior History: ON PETITIONS FOR REVIEW FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTEENTH DISTRICT OF TEXAS.

Disposition: Judgments reversed, cases remanded.

CORE TERMS

parties, summary judgment, dispose, trial court, interlocutory, final judgment, summary judgment order, cases, purpose of an appeal, counterclaim, courts, merits, orders, judgments, pleadings, purport, partial summary judgment, court of appeals, pet, conventional, judgment rendered, summary judgment motion, inclusion, appeals, adjudicate, severance, appellate court, grounds, grant summary judgment, express grant

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Final Judgment Rule, Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Probate, Probate Proceedings, Judicial Review, Preclusion of Judgments, Estoppel, Collateral Estoppel, Judgments, General Overview, Record on Appeal, Summary Judgment Review, Appealability, Interlocutory Orders, Summary Judgment, Partial Summary Judgment, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review