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Price v. East Texas H.S.I., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler

September 11, 2019

TED PRICE, Appellant
v.
EAST TEXAS H.S.I., INC. AND JOHN R. POWE, Appellees

          Appeal from the 241st District Court of Smith County, Texas (Tr.Ct.No. 13-3242-C)

          Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GREG NEELEY JUSTICE

         Ted Price appeals the dismissal of his suit against East Texas H.S.I., Inc. and John R. Powe for want of prosecution. In his sole issue, Price contends the trial court abused its discretion by dismissing the case. We affirm.

         Background

         Price, a resident of California, took his airplane to Howard Aviation, Inc. in California for required maintenance in April 2011. Because Howard did not do engine work, Price sent the plane's engines to East Texas H.S.I, owned by Powe, for an engine overhaul. When that was complete, the engines were returned to Howard in California and reinstalled on the plane. In April 2013, a separate maintenance facility determined that Appellees East Texas H.S.I. and Powe performed the work improperly, and Price paid that facility to do the work again.

         Price filed suit in Smith County, Texas on December 9, 2013, naming as defendants Howard Aviation, Inc., its sole shareholder Robin A. Howard, East Texas H.S.I., Inc., and John R. Powe. He alleged negligence, gross negligence, breach of contract, violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and fraud against all four defendants. He further alleged that the Howard defendants are vicariously liable for the acts of Appellees.

         On January 13, 2014, the Howard defendants each filed a special appearance asserting that the trial court lacks jurisdiction over them and requesting their dismissal for want of jurisdiction. Their request was granted on March 24, 2016, and the court ordered Howard Aviation, Inc. and Robin A. Howard dismissed with prejudice as to the claims asserted against them. On June 16, 2017, Appellees filed their motion to dismiss asserting that the cause had been pending since December 9, 2013, that Price failed to take meaningful action to secure an adjudication on the merits or otherwise dispose of the case, and that he failed to prosecute the case with due diligence. Price responded, including a motion to retain the case and for a trial setting.

         Appellees also filed a motion for a no evidence summary judgment on all claims against them. Price responded to this motion, asserting that there are genuine issues of material fact precluding the motion. A hearing was held on August 23, 2018. The trial court signed a dismissal order on September 12, 2018, dismissing with prejudice Price's claims against Appellees. Price appealed.

         Dismissal for Want of Prosecution

         Price contends the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing his case because good cause existed for retaining the matter on the court's docket of active cases. He claims that he pursued all discovery, complied with all of Appellees' requests, timely filed a motion to retain and request for trial setting, and was ready to proceed to trial.

         Standard of Review

         We review the trial court's dismissal for want of prosecution for an abuse of discretion. MacGregor v. Rich, 941 S.W.2d 74, 75 (Tex. 1997) (per curiam). A trial court abuses its discretion if it reaches a decision so arbitrary and unreasonable as to amount to a clear and prejudicial error of law or if it clearly fails to correctly analyze or apply the law. See Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). If the trial court does not enter findings of fact or conclusions of law, and the trial court's order dismissing a case for want of prosecution does not specify a particular reason for the dismissal, we will affirm if any proper ground supports the dismissal. Henderson v. Blalock, 465 S.W.3d 318, 321 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, no pet.). The appellate court reviews the entire record to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion. Id. at 321-22.

         Applicabl ...


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