Not Receiving Notice of Judgment Dismissal In Texas

Rule 306a provides a mechanism to establish the commencement of the court's plenary power where notice is not received within twenty days of judgment. Rule 306a(1) reaffirms that the thirty-day period for filing the reinstatement motion begins on the date the dismissal order is signed. See id. (citing TEX. R. CIV. P. 306a(1)). However, Rule 306a(4) and (5) provide a procedural remedy when more than twenty days have passed between the signing of the judgment of dismissal and the date a party receives the clerk's notice or otherwise acquires actual knowledge of the signing of the judgment. Rule 306a(4) allows a party to establish the date it actually received notice or acquired knowledge as the commencement of the plenary jurisdiction period. Rule 306a(5) requires the party seeking to implement Rule 306a(4) to: [1] file a sworn motion; [2] provide notice to the other parties; and [3] prove in the trial court the date upon which the party adversely affected first received the clerk's notice of judgment or acquired actual knowledge that the judgment had been signed. If the trial court determines a date of notice no more than ninety days after the original judgment was signed, then appellate deadlines and the period for the trial court's plenary power commence from the date of notice rather than the date the judgment was actually signed. See TEX. R. CIV. P. 306a(4); TEX. R. APP. P. 4.2(a)(1). Filing a motion that complies with the requirements of Rule 306a invokes the trial court's jurisdiction for the limited purpose of determining the date of notice. See Memorial Hosp. v. Gillis, 741 S.W.2d 364, 365-66 (Tex. 1987); In re Simpson , 932 S.W.2d 674, 677 (Tex. App.--Amarillo 1996, no writ). To invoke the trial court's jurisdiction to hold a hearing, the sworn motion must set forth facts that create a prima facie case demonstrating the party did not receive the clerk's notice or acquire actual knowledge of the judgment within twenty days after the judgment was signed. See Carrera v. Marsh, 847 S.W.2d 337, 342 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1993, orig. proceeding). If the sworn motion fails to allege facts that would establish the application of Rule 306a(4), any order determining the date of notice is void. See Gillis , 741 S.W.2d at 365-66; Simpson , 932 S.W.2d at 678; see also Grondona v. Sutton, 991 S.W.2d 90 (Tex. App.--Austin 1998, pet. denied) (only part of a prima facie case alleged within the period of plenary power; amendment to include full prima facie case after plenary power expired failed to invoke the court's jurisdiction). As the Texas Supreme Court has explained: Compliance with the time periods prescribed by these rules is a jurisdictional prerequisite. Unless a party establishes in the manner prescribed by the rule that he had no notice or knowledge of the judgment, the general rule prevails: a trial court's power to reinstate a cause after dismissal expires thirty days after the order of dismissal is signed. Memorial Hosp. of Galveston County v. Gillis, 741 S.W.2d 364, 365 (Tex. 1987); See also Butts v. Capitol City Nursing Home, Inc., 705 S.W.2d 696, 697 (Tex. 1986) (per curiam) (effect of failure to comply with Rule 165a governing motions to reinstate after dismissals for want of prosecution); Olvera v. Olvera, 705 S.W.2d 283, 284 (Tex. App. -- San Antonio 1986, writ ref'd n.r.e.) (per curiam) (on mot. for reh'g) (a movant under Rule 306a must not only file a sworn motion, but also must obtain a hearing and present evidence to support the motion).