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Stone v. Commerce & Industry Insurance

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

April 26, 2018

RANDALL STONE, Appellant,
v.
COMMERCE & INDUSTRY INSURANCE, Appellee.

          On appeal from the 24th District Court of Victoria County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Benavides and Longoria

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROGELIO VALDEZ CHIEF JUSTICE.

         In appellate cause number 13-17-00643-CV, appellant Randall Stone attempts to appeal from the trial court's order granting appellee Commerce & Industry Insurance's plea to the jurisdiction. Appellee has filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction, claiming that the trial court's order granting its plea to the jurisdiction is not a final, appealable order. We will grant appellee's motion to dismiss and dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction. See Tex. R. App. P. 42.3(a), 43.2(f).

         I. Background

         Appellant sustained an on-the-job injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident. Appellee was the worker's compensation carrier for appellant's employer. Appellant submitted a claim for worker's compensation. Thereafter, a hearing officer for the Texas Department of Insurance-Division of Workers' Compensation (Division) held a contested hearing to decide the disputed issues related to appellant's compensable injury. The hearing officer decided: (1) the date on which appellant reached maximum medical improvement; (2) appellant's impairment rating; (3) applicable dates relating to appellant's disability; and (4) an average weekly wage. An appeals panel for the Division affirmed the hearing officer's decision and order. Thereafter, appellant timely filed suit against appellee seeking judicial review of the appeal panel's determination. Appellee answered the lawsuit and simultaneously presented a plea to the jurisdiction, asserting that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider any issue other than whether appellant had reached maximum medical improvement. The trial court accepted appellee's position and granted the plea.

         In its order granting the plea, the trial court specifically stated that "this court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to consider any of [appellant's] claims, or any issues, except whether [appellant] has reached maximum medical improvement." The order concluded by stating that "[a]ll relief not specifically granted herein is denied"-a statement commonly referred to as a Mother Hubbard clause. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal from the trial court's order, in response to which appellee files a motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction.

         II. Jurisdiction

         Generally, an appellate court lacks jurisdiction to entertain an appeal from an order that is not considered "final." See Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 195 (Tex. 2001). A judgment is final for purposes of appeal if it disposes of all pending parties and claims in the record.[1] See id. Whether an order is final must be determined from its language and the record in the case. See id. There must be a clear indication that the trial court intended the order to completely dispose of the entire case.[2]

         Here, the trial court granted appellee's plea to the jurisdiction as to all of appellant's claims, "except whether [appellant] has reached maximum medical improvement." Therefore, by its express language, the order is not final until the issue of whether appellant reached maximum medical improvement is resolved by the trial court. See id. at 200 (observing that "[i]f a court has dismissed all of the claims in a case but one, an order determining the last claim is final").[3] Appellant may choose to appeal the trial court's order granting the plea to the jurisdiction once the issue of medical improvement has been finally resolved by the trial court.

         III. Conclusion

         We grant appellee's motion to dismiss and dismiss the appeal in cause number 13-17-00643-CV for want of jurisdiction.[4] See Tex. R. App. P. 42.3(a), 43.2(f).

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