In the wake of the Dallas Court of Appeals’ en banc decision last week in Crown Asset Management, L.L.C. v. Loring, there’s a handful of other opinions addressing dismissals for want of prosecution using the same "aggressive docket management" procedures as in Crown.
In Newburyport Capital L.L.C. v. Corrales, the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal because the Appellant did not bring forward a clerk’s record containing documents to support its sole issue on appeal challenging the trial court’s error in failing to grant a default judgment. The opinion may be found here.
In AIS Services, LLC v. Mendez, the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal because it determined that AIS did not preserve error for its single issue on appeal–whether the trial court erred in failing to grant its motion for default judgment. The panel in this case consists of the same 3 justices who dissented from the majority opinion in the Crown case. The panel held that error had not been preserved since no ruling was obtained on the motion for default judgment. The panel distinguished Crown by pointing out that the record in Crown showed that the trial court was aware of Crown’s pending motion for default judgment when the trial court dismissed the case for want of prosecution because AIS had filed it motion for default judgment, but nothing in the record showed that the trial court knew the motion for default had been filed. The opinion may be found here.
In Oliphant Financial LLC v. Angiano, the court affirmed the dismissal. Oliphant brought two issues on appeal. In the first, it challenged the dismissal for want of prosecution. The court of appeals held that any error was harmless because Oliphant had not challenged an independent ground supporting the dismissal, which was the failure to attend a trial or hearing of which notice was had. The court does not address the second issue concluding that it was unnecessary to do so in light of its disposition of the first issue. The opinion may be found here.
In Resurgence Financial, LLC v. Taylor, the court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal. On appeal, Resurgence complained that the trial court erred in failing to grant its motion for default judgment and in dismissing for want of prosecution. Focusing only on the damages portion of the motion for default judgment, the court of appeals concludes that Resurgence did not establish its right to a default judgment because the damages were liquidated. It is unclear why the court does not address Resurgence’s right to default on the issue of liability. Finally, in reliance on Crown, and on similar facts but with an even shorter time period between dismissal and a third motion for default than that in Crown, the court of appeals summarily concludes that the trial court did not err in dismissing for want of prosecution. The opinion may be found here.
Finally, in Unifund CCR Partners v. Smith, the court holds that Unifund did not preserve error on its complaint that the trial court erred in failing to grant its second motion for default judgment. The facts are strikingly similar to those in Crown but with a different result. It is surprising that the Unifund panel does not cite Crown to explain the difference. It appears that the difference is that the last act at the time of the dismissal was Unifund’s filing of its second motion for default and there is nothing in the record to show the court was aware of it, so there was no "ruling" under Crown. One must wonder what the result would be if Unifund were to have complained that the trial court erred in failing to grant its first motion for default judgment after which the trial court returned Unifund’s proposed order unsigned–as in Crown. The opinion may be found here.