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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Desiri Soliz filed a class action against five H&R Block-related tax services companies. Soliz contends that the “peace of mind” guarantees H&R Block offers in its tax-preparation services constitute insurance policies, which resulted in the unlawful practice of selling insurance without a license. The H&R Block entities filed a plea to the jurisdiction, a motion to compel arbitration and a motion to transfer venue. Soliz filed a motion for partial summary judgment, which was supposed to be heard on the same day as the other motions, Feb. 5. The motion asked for rulings on whether the “peace of mind” guarantees constitute insurance; and whether parties selling these guarantees are engaged in the unlawful sale of insurance without a license. A separate hearing on the H&R Block entities’ special appearance was scheduled for two weeks later. H&R Block asked for a continuances, requested that the trial court stay the Feb. 5 proceedings until the Feb. 20 hearing. H&R Block also asked the court to delay Soliz’s motion for partial summary judgment until after deciding whether to certify a class of plaintiffs. The trial court denied both motions, so H&R Block filed for a writ of mandamus with this court. HOLDING:Writ denied. The court notes that T.R.Civ.P. 42(c)(1) says that a trial court should make a determination on class certification “as soon as practicable,” but the court finds that there’s no indication that the phrase means “before anything else,” or “before a merits determination.” Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to postpone a ruling on Soliz’s partial summary judgment motion until after a ruling on class certification. The court also rejects the contention that the hearing on the merits of Soliz’s claim should be put off pending notice to class members. Though the court is sympathetic to the argument, it finds no abuse of discretion. Until the trial court certifies a class, a suit brought as a class action is treated as if it were brought by the named plaintiffs suing on their own behalf. The court agrees that T.R.Civ.P. 120a(2), involving special appearances, does not give the trial court discretion to hear a motion to transfer venue or any other plea or pleading before hearing and determining a special appearance. The trial court’s refusal to postpone those other proceedings was an abuse of discretion, the court confirms. But, the court rules that mandamus is not the right remedy for this error. An appeal is the appropriate method of challenge, as no special circumstances exist to justify granting a writ. “We agree with [H&R Block] that a special appearance is to be heard first and that it is not to be heard second, but we disagree that rule 120a creates a substantial right that would be lost permanently if a special appearance were to be heard second and not first.” The court adds that it will deny Soliz’s motion for sanctions. OPINION:Garza, J.; Valdez, C.J., Rodriguez and Garza, JJ.

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