On Appeal from the 68th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 07-12998
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin Richter Justice
DISMISS and Opinion Filed February 29, 2012
Before Justices Bridges, Richter, and Murphy
Opinion By Justice Richter
Stewart McCray ("McCray") appeals from a partial summary judgment in favor of Gerald H. and Elizabeth A. Hoag ("Hoags") awarding damages on failure to make statutory disclosures under the federal Truth in Lending Act, rescission, damages for usury, and attorney's fees. For the reasons that follow, we dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction.
In November 2007, the Hoags initiated this suit against McCray. During the course of litigation, the Hoags filed a motion for partial summary judgment in February 2009 on the claims of truth in lending violations and usury. The trial court granted the partial summary judgment. The Hoags also filed a motion to non-suit the remaining claims of violation of the federal and Texas Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, conversion and violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which the court also granted without prejudice in an order dated February 16, 2009. The court then entered a final judgment dated February 16, 2009. However, on March 13, 2009, McCray filed a motion to vacate the judgment and for a new trial. McCray's motion for new trial was granted on May 14, 2009 and the court order also vacated the order granting the Hoags' motion of non-suit and reinstated "all claims and causes of action asserted by Plaintiff."
Subsequently, the Hoags filed a second motion for partial summary judgment which addressed only two causes of action: truth in lending violations and usury. The Hoags' partial summary judgment was granted, awarding the statutory remedy of rescission, damages for usury, and attorney's fees in what is purported to be a final judgment dated June 4, 2009. McCray now appeals.
Appellate jurisdiction is never presumed. See Parks
DeWitt County Elec. Co-op.,
Inc., 112 S.W.3d 157, 160 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.) We review de novo
whether we have jurisdiction over an appeal because jurisdiction is a legal question. See
Mayhew v. Town of Sunnyvale, 964 S.W.2d 922, 928 (Tex. 1998). The appeal must be dismissed
unless the record affirmatively demonstrates the appellate court's jurisdiction. See
Texas Integrated Conveyor Sys., Inc. v. Innovative Conveyor Concepts, Inc., 300 S.W.3d
348, 360 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.) (citing IFS Sec. Group, Inc. v. Am. Equity Ins.
Co., 175 S.W.3d 560, 562 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2005, no pet.)).
The general rule is that an appeal may be taken only from a final judgment. See
Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 195 (Tex. 2001); North East Indep. Sch. Dist.
v. Aldridge, 400 S.W.2d 893, 895 (Tex. 1966). A judgment is final for purposes of appeal
if it disposes of all pending parties and claims in the record, except as necessary to carry out
the decree. Lehmann, 39 S.W.3d at 195; See also Jack B. Anglin Co. v. Tipps, 842 S.W.2d
266, 272 (Tex. 1992). "The intent to finally dispose of the case must be unequivocally
expressed in the words of the order itself." Lehmann, 39 S.W.3d at 200.
The June 4, 2009 purported final judgment in this case contains contradictory language. The third paragraph states in full:
THE COURT FINDS FURTHER THAT Defendant McCray charged Plaintiffs usurious interest and plaintiff is entitled to the statutory penalty of twice the amount of interest contracted for, charged or received, for the statutory damages penalty totaling $173,528.00. The court finds that the statutory penalties for usury are awarded in addition to the recession damages for a total damages award of $238,845.15 plus attorney fees plus attorney's fees [sic] in the amount of $40,000.00 through May 29, 2009 plus pre judgment interest in the amount of $4,294.83 ($65,317.15 x 5% from February 4th, 2008-May 29, 2009), post judgment interest as provided by law and for all further relief to which Plaintiffs may be justly entitled by law or in equity and to set trial for the remainder of Plaintiff's claims and actions (emphasis added).
It is clear from this court's findings that the trial court only granted summary judgment on usury, recission, pre-judgment interest and attorney fee claims. It is also clear that the trial court, by its own language, retained the remaining causes of action and intended they be set for trial, even though the final paragraph contains boilerplate language that the judgment is final and appealable. Conclusion
Because of the contradiction in the language of the final judgment, we conclude the judgment is not a final, appealable order. Accordingly, we ...