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On Petition for Review from the Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District of Texas

Petitioner Johnny Nash, a former deputy sheriff, sued for wrongful termination and racial discrimination. He named seven defendants: the sheriff, two deputies, the chair of the civil service commission, and three entities – Harris County, the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, and the Civil Service Commission. He sued the four individuals both “individually” and in their official capacities. *fn1 All of the defendants joined in a motion for summary judgment on all of Nash’s claims. The trial court’s docket sheet notation indicates that the motion was granted as to all defendants. However, the order signed by the court refers only to the motion for summary judgment of the individual defendants and grants summary judgment only as to those defendants “in their individual and official capacities”. The three institutional defendants are not mentioned. The order contained a “Mother Hubbard” clause that “[a]ll relief not granted herein is hereby denied.”

Nash filed a motion for new trial. He says that he filed it only because he was concerned that the obviously interlocutory order, which did not dispose of his claims against the three defendant entities, might be considered final. However, Nash’s motion stated: “Apparently the Court granted the Defendant’s Summary Judgment as to all parties and all fourteen issues the Defendant raised in its motion.” Nash says that at the hearing on the motion, the court indicated that it did not consider its order to have disposed of the entire case and invited the defendants to file a further motion for summary judgment, but there is nothing in the record to support Nash’s assertion. After the date when the motion for new trial would have been denied by operation of law had the court’s order been final, the trial court signed an order denying the motion. The court appears to have continued to treat the case as pending. The defendants filed a plea to the jurisdiction, contending that the order granting their motion for summary judgment was final and that the court had lost jurisdiction of the case. The trial court overruled the plea.

 
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