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Hahn v. Southwest Double D Ranch, LP

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

May 8, 2017

DERRICK J. HAHN AND HAHN LAW FIRM, P.C., Appellants
v.
SOUTHWEST DOUBLE D RANCH, LP, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 162nd Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-14-03263.

          Before Justices Francis, Lang-Miers, and Whitehill

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH LANG-MIERS JUSTICE

         By letter to the parties, we questioned our jurisdiction over this appeal in light of the trial court's Order on Defendants' Motion for New Trial that ordered "a new trial on the issues of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty." We asked appellants Derrick J. Hahn and Hahn Law Firm, P.C. (Hahn Parties) to file a letter brief addressing our concern and gave appellee Southwest Double D Ranch, LP an opportunity to respond. The Hahn Parties filed a letter brief contending that this Court has jurisdiction. Southwest did not respond. We dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

         Applicable Law

         Generally, this Court has jurisdiction only over appeals from final judgments. See Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 195 (Tex. 2001). A final judgment is one that disposes of all pending parties and claims. See id. But an order granting a motion for new trial is an interlocutory order and is not appealable. Lynn v. Hanna, 296 S.W. 280, 281 (Tex. 1927); Gore v. Gore, No. 05-13-01025-CV, 2014 WL 1018650, at *1 (Tex. App.-Dallas Mar. 17, 2014, no pet.). "When a new trial is granted, the case stands on the trial court's docket 'the same as though no trial had been had.'" In re Baylor Med. Ctr. at Garland, 280 S.W.3d 227, 230-31 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding) (quoting Wilkins v. Methodist Health Care Sys., 160 S.W.3d 559, 563 (Tex. 2005)).

         We construe court orders and judgments under the same rules of interpretation as those applied to other written instruments. Payless Cashways, Inc. v. Hill, 139 S.W.3d 793, 795 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2004, no pet.). We construe an unambiguous order in light of the literal meaning of the language used. Id. In addition, "[w]hen the judgment or order on its face is plain and unambiguous, extrinsic matters may not be considered to give the decree a different effect from that expressed by the literal meaning of the words used therein." McLeod v. MeLeod, 723 S.W.2d 777, 779 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1987, no writ); see In re A.L.H.C., 49 S.W.3d 911, 918 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2001, pet. denied).

         Background

         Southwest sued Derrick Hahn for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud by non-disclosure, suit on a debt, money had and received, unjust enrichment, and violations of the Texas Theft Liability Act and sued the Hahn Law Firm, P.C. for suit on a debt, money had and received, and unjust enrichment. After a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for Southwest against the Hahn Parties, jointly and severally, for $85, 683.68 in actual damages and $13, 527.12 in attorney's fees, plus post-judgment interest and costs. The judgment did not specify on which claims the trial court awarded damages. The trial court subsequently made findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting the judgment.

         Then the Hahn Parties filed "DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL[.]" They asked "the Court to grant a new trial in the interest of justice and fairness for the limited purpose of reopening the evidence[.]" The motion stated that the trial court previously had not allowed the Hahn Parties to admit sealed documents from a separate proceeding-the petition and final decree from a divorce case involving Derrick Hahn-and that the court should reopen the evidence because the other court had subsequently unsealed the documents. The motion stated that, "[a]lthough all parties have rested, it is necessary for Defendants to present additional relevant evidence relative to Defendants' affirmative defense of res judicata."

         The trial court signed an Order on Defendants' Motion for New Trial which reads:

         (IMAGE OMITTED)

         On the same day that the trial court signed the Order on Defendants' Motion for New Trial, the Hahn Parties filed their notice of appeal. In their appellate brief, the Hahn Parties state that they "filed a motion for new trial" "[b]ut the motion sought only to reopen the evidence and permit introduction of three additional exhibits." And they note that Southwest did not respond ...


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