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Ending a Case Before Trial

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

This article explains how lawsuits can be resolved without a trial.

Ending a case before trial can be accomplished by submitting a motion to the court. Generally, motions that might be used to end a case before trial include nonsuits, dismissals, settlements, summary judgments, and default judgments.


If the Plaintiff hasn’t shown all of his or her evidence, other than rebuttal evidence, to the court, the Plaintiff can end the case by filing a Notice of Nonsuit with the court clerk. Learn how at How to Dismiss a Case You Filed.

See Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 162, 163.


 The court can dismiss a case if the Plaintiff didn’t file it properly or didn’t follow the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. See Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 165a.

A common way this can happen is a case being Dismissed for Want of Prosecution if no action has been taken in the case.

Read How to Retain or Reinstate a Case Dismissed by the Court.


Generally, parties can work out an agreement and resolve part or all of a case before it goes to trial in a settlement agreement. If this is the case it is a good idea to have a licensed attorney read over the agreement before it is finalized.

See Mediation.

Summary Judgment

When there are no disputes about the important facts of the case and, based on those important facts, there is no evidence to support the claim or defense of the case, the judge can grant a Motion for Summary Judgment, and decide the case before trial.

See Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 166a.

Default Judgment

The judge can give a default judgment to the Plaintiff when the Respondent has been served with citation but does not respond to the case or the Respondent has filed a response, but fails to appear for trial. 

Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 85, 99, 237, 239.

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