America's Favorite Chicken Co. v. Galvan

In America's Favorite Chicken Co. v. Galvan, 897 S.W.2d 874 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1995, writ denied), the plaintiff initially sued the defendant in Bexar County. Subsequently, the plaintiff decided to bring the lawsuit in Maverick County and filed a motion for non-suit in Bexar County, requesting that the trial court grant a non-suit "with prejudice." Id. The trial court issued an order granting the non-suit "with prejudice." Id. When the plaintiff re-filed her suit in Maverick County, the defendant moved to dismiss based on the Bexar County trial court's order of non-suit "with prejudice." Id. The plaintiff moved for a judgment nunc pro tunc, alleging that she had erroneously moved for non-suit "with" prejudice, rather than "without." Id. At a hearing on the motion, the plaintiff's counsel testified that the request for a non-suit "with prejudice" was a clerical error made by his legal assistant. Id. The trial court granted the motion and changed the order of non-suit to reflect that it was issued "without prejudice." Id. The trial court concluded that "the signing of the nonsuit 'with prejudice' was a ministerial act, which required no judicial reasoning, and could thus be corrected by a judgment nunc pro tunc." Id. at 877. On appeal in Galvan, the court vacated the trial court's order granting judgment nunc pro tune and reinstated the trial court's order granting the plaintiff's motion for non-suit with prejudice. Id. at 879. The court reasoned that the trial court could only amend the final written order if there was some evidence that it had, at some point before the order was entered, rendered judgment "without prejudice." Id. at 878. Without regard to evidence showing that the plaintiff attempted to re-file her suit and therefore logically must have intended to request a non-suit "without" prejudice, the appellate court concluded that the trial court never stated in the record that it had intended to render judgment without prejudice. Id. at 877. The court concluded that, if the judgment entered is the same as the judgment rendered, regardless of whether the rendition was incorrect, a trial court has no nunc pro tunc power to correct or modify the entered judgment after its plenary power expires. Id. There was simply no evidence that the trial court intended to do anything other than grant the motion exactly as the plaintiff had requested. Id. at 878.