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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:John Adrian Anthony sued Lynd for injuries he sustained when he fell from the second story of an apartment complex Lynd managed. The trial court granted Anthony’s motion for sanctions after Lynd failed to respond to a request for disclosure, and signed an order entitled “Final Default Judgment” on May 18, 2004. Lynd claims it first became aware of the default judgment when a sheriff’s deputy arrived at its offices on August 4, 2004 to seize assets to satisfy the judgment. On August 27, 2004, Lynd filed a motion to set aside the default judgment and a motion for new trial. Pursuant to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 306a(4), Lynd sought to invoke the trial court’s otherwise-expired plenary power to grant the motions. Anthony sought mandamus relief in the court of appeals, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion because the November 21, 2003 sanctions order was a final judgment, and, therefore, the court could not invoke its plenary power pursuant to Rule 306a(4). Anthony argued in the alternative that even if the May 18, 2004 order was the final judgment, the order granting new trial was still void, because the court did not satisfy Rule 306a’s requirements and, therefore, lacked plenary power to grant the motion. The court of appeals conditionally granted mandamus relief, holding that the May 18, 2004 order was the final judgment, but that the order granting new trial was void due to the trial court’s failure to specifically find the date Lynd first received notice or acquired actual knowledge of the judgment. Accordingly, the court of appeals ordered the trial court to withdraw the Sept. 7, 2004 order. The trial court complied. HOLDING:The court conditionally grants Lynd’s petition for writ of mandamus, directs the court of appeals to vacate its ruling, and orders the trial court to vacate its Feb. 28, 2005, order withdrawing the Sept. 7, 2004, order granting new trial. The court agrees with the court of appeals that the May 18, 2004, judgment was the final judgment. A default judgment is deemed final if it expresses an unequivocal intent to finally dispose of the case. The court disagrees with the court of appeals’ holding that the trial court did not properly invoke its plenary power to grant Lynd’s motion for new trial because it omitted a written finding of the date Lynd received notice of final judgment. Unlike the parallel appellate rule, Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 4.2, Rule 306a does not require that the trial court issue a signed order with such a finding. Rather, when the trial court fails to specifically find the date of notice, the finding may be implied from the trial court’s judgment, unless there is no evidence supporting the implied finding or the party challenging the judgment establishes as a matter of law an alternate notice date. However, a trial court could dispel ambiguities about the notice date if, in ruling on 306a motions, it followed the procedure mandated by Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 4.2(c) and issued a finding of the notice date as a matter of course. Parties should also consider requesting such a finding, as it may help circumvent disputes like this one, the court states. Here, there is ample evidence to imply from the trial court’s new trial order a finding that Lynd first received notice of the judgment on Aug. 4, 2004. Because Aug. 4, 2004, was more than 20, but less than 91, days after the default judgment was signed, and because Lynd timely filed its Rule 306a sworn motion and accompanying motion for new trial within thirty days of first receiving notice of the judgment, Rule 306a operated to extend the trial court’s plenary power to grant Lynd’s motion for new trial. The trial court had jurisdiction on Sept. 7, 2004, to issue its order granting Lynd’s motion for new trial. Therefore, the court of appeals abused its discretion in ordering the trial court to vacate that order. OPINION:Jefferson, C.J., delivered the court’s opinion.

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