Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin
THE DISTRICT COURT OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY, 368TH JUDICIAL
DISTRICT NO. 16-0752-C368, HONORABLE RICK J. KENNON, JUDGE
Justices Goodwin, Baker, and Smith
Mata appeals from the district court's order dismissing
her suit against appellees Capitol Wright Distributing,
Dalton Marek, and Wright Distributing for want of
prosecution. She argues the district court erred by providing
inadequate notice of its intent to dismiss and by denying her
motion to reinstate. We will affirm the district court's
28, 2016, Mata sued appellees for personal injuries she
allegedly sustained when cases of bottled water fell on her.
This incident allegedly occurred almost two years earlier at
the convenience store where she worked. All appellees
appeared and filed general denials by October of 2016. The
clerk's record reflects no further activity in this case
until November 29, 2017, when the district clerk notified
Mata by letter that the district court intended to dismiss
her case for want of prosecution unless she showed good cause
to retain it at or before a January 2018 dismissal hearing.
dismissal hearing, the district court asked Mata's
counsel if he had prepared a motion to retain. Counsel
replied that he had not but "just wanted to try to get
an extension on this." The district court refused
because the case was "a year and a half old, and from
what I can tell, nothing has happened." Counsel
responded that he had served Capitol Wright and Marek with
responses to their requests for disclosure in April of 2017
but had not filed them with the court.Counsel for
appellees arrived at the end of the hearing and orally
requested dismissal of the case. The district court signed an
order dismissing the case for want of prosecution. Mata filed
a motion to reinstate and attached copies of her discovery
responses. The district court heard arguments from all
parties and denied the motion. This appeal followed.
review a trial court's decision to dismiss for want of
prosecution and its ruling on a motion to reinstate for an
abuse of discretion. Enriquez v. Livingston, 400
S.W.3d 610, 615 (Tex. App.-Austin 2013, pet. denied). "A
trial court abuses its discretion if it acts in an arbitrary
or unreasonable manner without reference to any guiding rules
or principles." Crawford v. XTO Energy, Inc.,
509 S.W.3d 906, 911 (Tex. 2017). With respect to factual
matters, we may conclude that the court abused its discretion
only if the record establishes that the "court could
reasonably have reached only one decision." Walker
v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig.
court may dismiss a case for want of prosecution under either
Rule 165a or its inherent power. Alexander v. Lynda's
Boutique, 134 S.W.3d 845, 850 (Tex. 2004). Under Rule
165a, a court may dismiss for "failure of any party
seeking affirmative relief to appear for any hearing or trial
of which the party had notice" or if a case has not been
"disposed of within time standards promulgated by the
Supreme Court under its Administrative Rules."
Tex.R.Civ.P. 165a(1), (2). In addition, a trial court has
inherent power to dismiss a case when a plaintiff fails to
prosecute her case with due diligence. Villarreal v. San
Antonio Truck & Equip., 994 S.W.2d 628, 630 (Tex.
1999). Whichever source of authority a court intends to rely
on, due process requires that it first provide the plaintiff
"notice and an opportunity to be heard."
Id. A failure to provide adequate notice can require
first argues that the notice was inadequate because it did
not explicitly inform her that she must file a motion to
retain before the dismissal hearing. However, Williamson
County's local rules state: "Written motions to
remove a case from dismissal docket must be presented to the
trial Judge prior to the notified date of dismissal."
Williamson County (Tex.) Dist. Ct. Loc. R. III.D.1. Litigants
are charged with knowledge of all local rules applicable to
their case. See Mayad v. Rizk, 554 S.W.2d 835, 839
(Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1977, writ ref'd n.r.e.);
see also In re Stanton, No. 12-05-00041-CV, 2006 WL
343907, at *2 (Tex. App.-Tyler Feb. 15, 2006, pet. denied)
(mem. op.); Zarosky v. State, No. 03-03-00116-CV,
2004 WL 1114539, at *1 (Tex. App.-Austin May 20, 2004, no
pet.) (mem. op.). Because Mata was charged with knowledge of
the requirement that she file a motion to retain, putting the
same information in the dismissal notice was unnecessary.
See Mayad, 554 S.W.2d at 839.
next asserts that the dismissal notice was inadequate because
it did not specify whether the district court intended to
rely on Rule 165a(2) or its inherent power. The notice sent
to Mata states:
In accordance with Rule 165a, Texas Rules of Civil
Procedure, the court shall dismiss this cause for
Want of Prosecution at the dismissal hearing unless there
is good cause to maintain the case on the docket.
You may contact the Court Administrator prior to the ...