When May a Trial Court Sever a Claim ?
Pursuant to Rule 41 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a trial court may sever a claim prior to trial where severance will ostensibly "do justice, avoid prejudice, and further convenience." Guaranty Fed. Sav. Bank v. Horseshoe Operating Co., 793 S.W.2d 652, 658 (Tex. 1990).
A claim is properly severable when:
(1) the controversy involves more than one cause of action;
(2) the severed claim is one that would be the proper subject of a lawsuit if independently asserted;
(3) the severed claim is not so interwoven with the remaining action that they involve the same facts and issues." Id. at 658 (citing Saxer v. Nash Phillips-Copus Co. Real Estate, 678 S.W.2d 736 (Tex. App.--Tyler 1984, writ ref'd n.r.e.)).
The trial court has broad discretion in deciding a motion to sever. a grant of severance may not be reversed absent an abuse of that discretion. See id.; see also State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Wilborn, 835 S.W.2d 260, 261 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1992, orig. proceeding) ("The trial court has wide discretion to order or not order separate trials when judicial convenience is served and prejudice avoided.").
A trial court abuses its discretion when it acts in an unreasonable and arbitrary manner or without reference to any guiding rules or principles. See Downer v. Aquamarine Operators, Inc., 701 S.W.2d 238, 241-42 (Tex. 1985).
This Court may not reverse for abuse of discretion merely because we disagree with the decision of the trial court. See id. at 242.
"A mere error of judgment is not an abuse of discretion." Loftin v. Martin, 776 S.W.2d 145, 146 (Tex. 1989).
Typically, the party seeking to appeal the court's decision granting partial summary judgment will move to sever the decision from the remainder of the cause so that the partial summary judgment becomes a final judgment subject to appellate jurisdiction, It is unusual for the prevailing party.