Posted by Scott Stolley, Thompson & Knight
After you get a favorable result on some issues but not on others, should you seek entry of a judgment? Can seeking entry of a judgment waive your right to appeal on the issues that you lost?
The answer is yes, you can waive appellate complaints by moving for entry of a judgment. In general, you cannot induce the court to enter a judgment and then complain about that judgment on appeal. But there is a way to preserve your appellate complaints while still moving for entry of judgment.
The Texas Supreme Court recently addressed this issue in Hooks v. Samson Lone Star, L.P., No. 12-0920, 2015 WL 393380 (Tex. Jan. 30, 2015). Hooks received a favorable verdict on some claims, but the trial court had earlier granted a summary judgment against Hooks on a separate claim. When filing his motion for judgment, Hooks specifically stated that he was moving for judgment "without waiving any rights to contest or appeal prior orders of the Court." And above the signature block for Hooks's counsel, the proposed judgment said "Approved as to form."
The Supreme Court held that these reservations preserved Hooks's right to appeal the earlier summary judgment against him. Quoting an earlier case, the Court said "[t]here must be a method by which a party who desires to initiate the appellate process may move the trial court to render judgment without being bound by its terms." Id. at *11.
So, if carefully done, it is possible to move for entry of a judgment but preserve the right to appeal on issues you lost. Before filing the motion, you should carefully read the case law to make sure you do not fall into the traps inherent in this process.