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

There are two questions here. First: is a judgment rendered after the close of trial final and appealable if it does not expressly dispose of the plaintiff’s claims against defendants with whom the plaintiff was negotiating settlement? Second: must a motion to extend post-judgment deadlines under Rule 306a(5) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure *fn1 be filed within thirty days of the date the movant learned that judgment had been signed? The court of appeals answered both in the affirmative and dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction. *fn2 We agree that the trial court’s judgment was final and appealable, but not that the appeal was untimely perfected. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand the case to that court for consideration of the merits.

Plaintiff Christopher Leigh John sued six defendants: Trinity Mother Frances Health System, Tom Cammack, and Trincare Inc. (“the Trinity defendants”); Harrison County Hospital Association, Inc. and Marshall Health Services (“the Marshall defendants”); and Dianna Taylor. John alleged fraud, breach of contract, and tortious interference. The trial court granted partial summary judgment for the Marshall defendants on John’s breach-of-contract claims. Shortly before trial, John reached a preliminary settlement with the three Trinity defendants, but no final agreement was made and the Trinity defendants were not dismissed from the case. The other three defendants moved for a continuance because of uncertainty about the effect of the settlement on the trial. The trial court denied the motion, and the case proceeded to trial on John’s claims against Taylor and the Marshall defendants. John nonsuited Taylor during the trial, and only his claims against the Marshall defendants were submitted to the jury. After the jury failed to reach a verdict, the trial court at first declared a mistrial, then withdrew that ruling and granted the Marshall defendants’ earlier motion for a directed verdict. The Marshall defendants drafted and submitted a judgment, which the trial court signed on September 8. Entitled “Final Judgment”, it recited the non-suit of Taylor and ordered that John take nothing against the Marshall defendants. The judgment awarded costs against John and contained a “Mother Hubbard” clause, that “[a]ll other relief not expressly granted in this judgment is denied.” The judgment did not mention the three settling Trinity defendants, and the record does not reflect whether their settlement was finalized.

 
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