In Farm Bureau County Mut. Ins. Co. v. Roger, No. 14-0279 (Tex. Jan. 30, 2015), the Supreme Court of Texas examined a trial court’s order issued after a summary judgment was granted in a coverage case, without a full trial, and which contained a Mother Hubbard clause.  The question is whether or not this order constituted a final judgment for appeal purposes because it didn’t address attorney fees but it did have a Mother Hubbard clause.  The Court held it did not and dismissed the matter for want of jurisdiction.

The Court recognized the long standing rule that, “the language of an order or judgment can make it final, even though it should have been interlocutory, if the language expressly disposes of all claims and all parties.”  This is true, even if it erroneous.  “If the trial court’s intent to enter a final judgment is ‘clear from the order, then the order is final and appealable, even though the record does not provide an adequate basis for rendition of judgment.’”

The Court previously held in Lehman v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191 (Tex. 2001), that “a judgment issued without a conventional trial is final for purposes of appeal if and only if [1] it actually disposes of all claims and parties then before the court, regardless of the language, or [2] it states with unmistakable clarity that it is a final judgment as to all claims and all parties.” 

A Mother Hubbard clause attempts to fulfill requirement #2 by stating “all relief not granted is denied.”  However, the Court rejected this language as “any indicia of finality” for claims not expressly mentioned. 

In this case, the Farm Bureau failed to request an award of attorneys’ fees in its motion for summary judgment or to attach any evidence. Thus, the Court concluded the parties presented no evidence that suggested the trial court intended the Mother Hubbard clause to deny attorney fees.  Thus, the trial court’s order did not dispose of all parties and claims.

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