Finality of Judgment In Texas
In Mafrige v. Ross, 866 S.W.2d 590 (Tex. 1993), the supreme court stated that:
If a summary judgment order appears to be final, as evidenced by the inclusion of language purporting to dispose of all claims or parties, the judgment should be treated as final for purposes of appeal. . . . Litigants should be able to recognize a judgment which on its face purports to be final, and courts should be able to treat such a judgment as final for purposes of appeal. Id. at 592.
The supreme court in Mafrige reversed the court of appeals because the language before it "clearly evidences the trial court's intent to dispose of all claims." Id.
In Lowe v. Teator, 1 S.W.3d 819 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1999, pet. filed), we construed Mafrige and held that "the inclusion of a Mother Hubbard clause . . . does not automatically render a judgment final.
Rather, the language must be read within the context of the summary judgment order in which it appears." Id. at 823.
We also noted that the policy behind Mafrige and its progeny is to "allow litigants and the courts to treat a judgment as final when it appears on its face to be so." Lowe, 1 S.W.3d at 822.
The appearance of finality should be ascertainable without having to look outside the judgment to determine the meaning of the trial court's ruling. See Lowe, 1 S.W.3d at 822-23.
In Lowe, court also stated that:
An "appearance of finality" occurs when the language in the summary judgment order "clearly evidences" the trial court's intent to dispose of all the claims in the case before it.
If the language in the order preceding the Mother Hubbard clause is broad and inclusive enough to encompass all issues and parties before the court, then the clause may be read to dispose of all claims in the case not otherwise specifically addressed in the order.
If, however, the language preceding the Mother Hubbard clause is limited in its scope, such that it evidences the intent of the trial court not to dispose of all the claims in the case before it, a Mother Hubbard clause will not convert the otherwise interlocutory summary judgment order into a final judgment. Id. at 823.