The Dallas Court of Appeals recently held that notice of trial sent to an incorrect address constitutes error on the face of the record sufficient to warrant reversal on restricted appeal. Here, the trial court clerk sent notice of trial to the Plaintiffs at an address containing an incorrect suite number even though the file contained evidence of the correct address. The notice of trial was returned "Attempted — Not Known." Subsequently, the trial court failed to send notice of the dismissal pursuant to TRCP 306a(3). The court of appeals stated that "[f]ailure to give this notice is also a violation of the [plaintiffs’] due process rights and constitutes error on the face of the record." Consequently,the court reversed the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims.
There are two lessons to be learned from this case. First, check and double-check your addresses. If you do not trust the clerk, cross-serve required notices on all parties in the case. Second, all hope is not lost if a party misses the deadline to file a motion for new trial or notice of appeal. Restricted appeals are alive and well and can be a last resort to attack adverse judgments. The court’s opinion in Smith v. Shipp can be found at this link.