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Copyright (c) 2009 Southern Methodist University
SMU Law Review

Casenote: Texas Civil Procedure: The Texas Supreme Court Removes All Time Limits on "Ungranting" Motions for New Trial

Spring, 2009

SMU Law Review

62 SMU L. Rev. 821


Tracy L. Matlock


IN In re Baylor Medical Center at Garland, 1 the Texas Supreme Court changed its interpretation of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 329b, thereby allowing a trial court to vacate an order granting a new trial at any time until a final judgment is entered. This decision overruled forty-seven years of precedent. The supreme court based its decision on an incorrect interpretation of Porter v. Vick, 2 mistakenly finding that a well-established practice was hypothetical and that a twenty-seven year old amendment to the rules required a change in its interpretation. This new interpretation prevents minor problems, but allows for extensive abuse by the judiciary and through the political process.

The writ for mandamus was brought in a medical malpractice suit between Baylor Medical Center and Tammy and Steve Williams. The jury found for Baylor, and Judge Cox entered a final take-nothing judgment on May 6, 2005. A timely motion for new trial was granted on the eighty-second day after the judgment was signed. The Dallas Court of Appeals denied Baylor's writ of mandamus, which was then subsequently filed with the Texas Supreme Court. The supreme court abated the case pursuant to Rule 7.2 3 because Judge Thomas had succeeded Judge Cox. After two months, Judge Thomas vacated the new trial order, reinstating judgment on the jury's verdict. Baylor notified the Texas Supreme Court and the case was dismissed as moot. On the same day, the Williamses petitioned Judge Thomas to reconsider, resulting in the reinstatement ...
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