Appeal from the 234th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2015-05195
PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS 234th District Court Harris
County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2015-05195
consists of Chief Justice Frost, and Justices Brown and
W. Brown Justice
trial court imposed sanctions against plaintiff Massood
Danesh Pajooh under rule 13 of the Texas Rules of Civil
Procedure, awarding defendant Mehdi Abedi $8, 365 in
attorney's fees for defending against Pajooh's
slander case. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 13, 215.2(b)(8).
The trial court also awarded Abedi $20, 000 if Pajooh filed
an unsuccessful appeal in the court of appeals and $10, 000
if Pajooh filed a petition for review not granted by the
Supreme Court of Texas or if Pajooh filed a petition for
review that was granted but ultimately unsuccessful.
filed both an appeal and a petition for writ of mandamus. On
its own motion, this court consolidated Pajooh's appeal
(No. 14-16-00336-CV) and original proceeding (No.
14-16-00351-CV). We affirm the trial court's judgment and
deny Pajooh's petition for writ of mandamus as moot.
January 2015, Pajooh filed suit pro se against Abedi for
making a "libelous and slanderous" statement.
Pajooh alleged that Abedi told Gus Parvizian that Pajooh
"suffers from HIV positive" or "Aids
[sic]." Pajooh alleged $250, 000 in damages. Abedi filed
an original answer. Within his answer, Abedi alleged:
"This suit is groundless and brought in bad faith and
for purposes of harassment." Abedi requested that he be
awarded his attorney's fees "as sanctions."
filed a notice of nonsuit on October 21, 2015. That same day,
the trial court signed an "Order of Non-Suit with
Prejudice." On October 30, 2015, Abedi filed a motion to
award attorney's fees. On November 18, 2015, Abedi filed
a motion for new trial requesting that the trial court grant
a new trial of the portion of the trial court's order
dismissing Pajooh's claims with prejudice without
awarding Abedi his incurred attorney's fees.
trial court held an evidentiary hearing in January 2016. The
trial court signed a final judgment on January 25, 2016. The
trial court ordered that the matter was dismissed with
prejudice, with costs assessed against each party. The trial
court ordered that Abedi recover as sanctions from Pajooh $8,
365 for Abedi's reasonable attorney's fees and
expenses in defending the matter. The trial court further
ordered an award of conditional attorney's fees of $20,
000 for an unsuccessful appeal to the court of appeals and
$10, 000 for an unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court of
February 24, 2016, Pajooh filed a motion for new trial. Abedi
filed a response and a proposed amended final judgment. On
April 21, 2016, the trial court signed its amended final
judgment, dismissing the matter with prejudice and awarding
the same attorney's fees to Abedi as the original final
judgment. That same day, Pajooh filed his notice of appeal.
On April 28, 2016, Pajooh filed a petition for writ of
mandamus. On its own motion, this court consolidated
Pajooh's appeal and original proceeding.
The trial court had jurisdiction to order sanctions.
first issue, Pajooh argues that the trial court's
judgment awarding sanctions is void because under rule 162 of
the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure the court "lacked
jurisdiction to act" after Pajooh's nonsuit and
failed to reinstate the cause. In his second issue, Pajooh
contends that the trial court could not award sanctions
against him because Abedi did not assert any claim for
affirmative relief before Pajooh filed his notice of nonsuit.
Pajooh asserts that Abedi's answer was "purely
defensive and limited to a resistance of plaintiffs'
[sic] claims." We consider these related issues together
and find no merit in either one.
rule 162, a plaintiff may nonsuit a claim at any time before
introducing all of the plaintiff's evidence other than
rebuttal evidence. Tex.R.Civ.P. 162; Epps v. Fowler,
351 S.W.3d 862, 868 (Tex. 2011). "A nonsuit terminates a
case from the moment the motion is filed."
Epps, 351 S.W.3d at 868 (citing Travelers Ins.
Co. v. Joachim, 315 S.W.3d 860, 862 (Tex. 2010)
(internal quotation marks omitted)). However, "[a]
plaintiff's nonsuit does not affect an opponent's
pending claims for affirmative relief, attorney's fees,
or sanctions." Stroman v. Tautenhahn, 465
S.W.3d 715, 717 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, pet.
dism'd w.o.j.); see Tex. R. Civ. P. 162 ("A
dismissal under this rule shall have no effect on any motion
for sanctions, attorney's fees or other costs, pending at
the time of dismissal, as determined by the ...