Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Original Proceeding from the 193rd Judicial District Court
Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-18-02863
Justices Brown, Schenck, and Reichek
issue before the Court in this original proceeding is whether
a trial court has the statutory authority to grant a new
trial on a Texas Citizens Participation Act
("TCPA") motion to dismiss more than thirty days
after the hearing on the motion. Applying this Court's
precedent, we conclude the answer is no, and we conditionally
grant the writ of mandamus.
underlying proceeding was initiated by Radix Realty, LLC
against relators Janie and Mike Hartley ("the
Hartleys"). Real party in interest Praveen Panchakarla
intervened and later joined in an amended petition. The
Hartleys filed a motion to dismiss under the TCPA, and the
trial court heard the TCPA motion on February 18, 2019. On
February 22, 2019, the trial court signed an order granting
the TCPA motion and dismissing the claims asserted against
the Hartleys. Panchakarla filed a motion for reconsideration
and for new trial on March 22, 2019. On May 6, 2019, the
trial court signed an order vacating the February 22 order
and denying the Hartleys' TCPA motion.
original proceeding, the Hartleys contend the May 6 order is
void because the TCPA prohibits a trial court from ruling on
a TCPA motion to dismiss more than thirty days after the
trial court hears the TCPA motion. This Court requested a
response to the petition for writ of mandamus from
Panchakarla and respondent. Panchakarla filed a response.
After reviewing the petition, the response, and the mandamus
record, we conclude the trial court was without authority to
deny the TCPA motion outside the time allowed by statute. As
such, the May 6 order is void, and the Hartleys are entitled
to the relief requested.
of Mandamus Relief
interlocutory appeal is permitted from the denial of a TCPA
motion to dismiss. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
51.014(a)(12). The Hartleys have filed an interlocutory
appeal challenging the merits of the May 6 order. That
interlocutory appeal is pending in this Court and docketed as
cause number 05-19-00565-CV.
generally issues to correct a clear abuse of discretion or
the violation of a duty imposed by law when there is no other
adequate remedy at law. In re Prudential Ins. Co.,
148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding).
Mandamus is also proper, however, if a trial court issues an
order beyond its jurisdiction because such an order is void.
In re Sw. Bell Tel. Co., 35 S.W.3d 602, 605 (Tex.
2000) (orig. proceeding). For example, mandamus is
appropriate when a trial court issues an order after its
plenary power has expired. In re Daredia, 317 S.W.3d
247, 250 (Tex. 2010) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam); In
re Brookshire Grocery Co., 250 S.W.3d 66, 68-69 (Tex.
2008) (orig. proceeding). When an order is void, the relator
need not show he lacks an adequate appellate remedy to obtain
mandamus relief. In re Sw. Bell Tel. Co., 35 S.W.3d
sister court has aptly noted, the TCPA "is directed
toward the expeditious dismissal and appeal of suits that are
brought to punish or prevent the exercise of certain
constitutional rights." Direct Commercial Funding,
Inc. v. Beacon Hill Estates, LLC, 407 S.W.3d 398, 401
(Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, no pet.). To effectuate
that purpose, we conclude it is appropriate to address the
trial court's statutory authority to enter the May 6
order through this original proceeding rather than as a part
of the interlocutory appeal.
court must rule on a TCPA motion to dismiss not later than
the 30th day following the date of the hearing. Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 27.005(a); see Avila v.
Larrea, 394 S.W.3d 646, 656 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, pet.
denied) (statute requires that the court rule on the motion
within thirty days of hearing and either dismiss the action
or not). If the trial court does not rule on the motion
within the time prescribed, the motion is considered denied
by operation of law. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§ 27.008(a); see also Dallas Morning News v.
Mapp, No. 05-14-00848-CV, 2015 WL 3932868, at *3 (Tex.
App.-Dallas June 26, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.).
Court held in Mapp that a trial court's written
order signed forty-one days after the hearing came too late
and was void. Mapp, 2015 WL 3932868, at *3. In
Mapp, a TCPA motion to dismiss was denied by
operation of law and an interlocutory appeal was perfected
before the trial court granted the TCPA motion. Id.
at *1. This Court rejected the argument that rule 29.5 of the
appellate rules permitted the trial court to belatedly rule
on the ...