Crites v. Collins

In Crites v. Collins, 284 S.W.3d 839 (Tex. 2009), the plaintiffs nonsuited their claims two weeks after the expiration of the 120-day deadline; on the next business day following nonsuit, the defendant filed his motion to dismiss. Id. at 841. The trial court denied the motion and the court of appeals affirmed, reasoning that the nonsuit mooted the pending motion to dismiss because, under former article 4590i (the predecessor to section 74.351), a plaintiff could avoid sanctions if he or she nonsuited before the defendant requested them. Id. at 842-43. The Texas Supreme Court disagreed, emphasizing that the legislature had removed the reference to the option of filing a nonsuit that had existed in the prior version of the statute, while retaining the mandatory sanctions provision if a plaintiff fails to file an expert report by the statutory deadline. Id. at 843. Reaffirming its holding in Villafani v. Trejo, 251 S.W.3d 466, 468 (Tex. 2008), the court concluded that a plaintiff's right to nonsuit under rule of civil procedure 162 "does not affect . . . a pending sanctions motion" because it does not limit the trial court's power to act on such a motion. Id. Crites v. Collins merely clarified that as long as a motion for sanctions under chapter 74 is filed within the trial court's plenary jurisdiction, the motion "survives a nonsuit, regardless of whether the movant brings the motion before or after the nonsuit." Id. at 843.