An Issue of First Impression: Can a Trial Court Reconsider its Anti-Slapp Ruling after Thirty Days Have Passed? The Dallas Court of Appeals says No!

The Dallas COA addressed an issue that I am pretty sure is a matter of first impression in Texas:

Can a trial court reverse its prior grant of a Texas Anti-Slapp motion, more than thirty (30) days after the hearing?

In re Hartley, No. 05-19-00571-CV answered the question in the negative because there is no statutory authority for the trial change its mind.

The underlying facts are straightforward:

  • On Feb. 22, 2019, the trial court granted the defendants Texas Anti-Slapp motion;

  • On March 22, 2019. plaintiffs filed a motion for new trial;

  • On May 6, 2019, the trial court vacated its Order granting the motion, well outside the 30 day window the trial court has to issue a ruling (TCAP § 27.005(a)):; and

  • Defendants filed a motion for writ of mandamus.

On May 24, 2019, the Dallas COA issued a ruling holding that the May 6, 2019 Order was void. While it is well settled (at least in the Dallas COA) that a trial court cannot grant or deny an Anti-Slapp motion outside the 30 day window, the TCPA is silent on the issue of the trial court changing its mind more than after 30 days have run from the hearing.

Relying on prior decisions addressing rulings outside the 30 day window, the COA determined that a trial court cannot reverse a prior grant of a Texas Anti-Slapp order.

Congrats to

Rusty O’Kane https://www.wickphillips.com/professionals/name-search/o/

and

Jeff Hellberg https://www.wickphillips.com/professionals/hellberg-jeffrey/

of Wick Phillips on the victory for our client!

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