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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Darla Blackmon died of pneumonia while incarcerated at a Texas Department of Criminal Justice substance abuse facility operated by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). Blackmon’s daughter, Sheila Shultz, brought suit for wrongful death and survival damages, claiming that UTMB negligently failed to diagnose and treat her mother’s illness. Shultz alleged a waiver of sovereign immunity under the Tort Claims Act’s exception for personal injury or death caused by a condition or use of tangible personal property. UTMB filed a plea to the jurisdiction, which the trial court denied, and then brought an interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals initially reversed the trial court’s order and rendered judgment for UTMB, but then withdrew its judgment upon granting Shultz’s motion for rehearing. Three weeks later, Shultz filed a non-suit and moved to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction. The court of appeals denied Shultz’s motion, and eventually issued a new opinion denying UTMB’s plea to the jurisdiction. HOLDING:The court vacates the court of appeals’ order, and dismisses the appeal for want of jurisdiction. Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 162 applies in this case, because Shultz filed the non-suit while this matter was pending on interlocutory appeal from UTMB’s pretrial plea to the jurisdiction. Under these circumstances, the nonsuit extinguishes a case or controversy from the moment the motion is filed or an oral motion is made in open court; the only requirement is the mere filing of the motion with the clerk of the court. The trial court generally has no discretion to refuse to dismiss the suit, and its order doing so is ministerial. Rule 162 states that the plaintiff’s right to non-suit “shall not prejudice the right of an adverse party to be heard on a pending claim for affirmative relief or excuse the payment of all costs taxed by the clerk,” and a dismissal “shall have no effect on any motion for sanctions, attorney’s fees or other costs, pending at the time of dismissal.” the trial court has discretion to defer signing an order of dismissal so that it can “allow a reasonable amount of time” for holding hearings on these matters which are “collateral to the merits of the underlying case.” Although the rule permits motions for costs, attorney’s fees, and sanctions to remain viable in the trial court, it does not forestall the nonsuit’s effect of rendering the merits of the case moot. The court of appeals withdrew its judgment for UTMB before the nonsuit was filed. As a result, the nonsuit vitiated only the trial court’s interlocutory order denying UTMB’s plea to the jurisdiction. That ruling favored Shultz and, consequently, its nullification did not prejudice UTMB. OPINION:Per curiam.

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