Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 1 OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
GABRIEL and KERR, JJ.; and KERRY P. FITZGERALD (Senior
Justice, Retired, Sitting by Assignment).
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
P. FITZGERALD JUSTICE.
forcible detainer case, appellant Betty Jo Tillis appeals the
trial court's judgment granting possession of certain
real property to appellee Home Servicing, LLC (Home
Servicing). In two related issues, Tillis contends that the
trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to grant Home
Servicing possession of the property because she presented
evidence that the security instrument authorizing foreclosure
was forged and because the alleged forgery created an
unresolved issue concerning title to the property. We affirm.
February 2016, in a justice court, Home Servicing filed a
petition to authorize eviction of Tillis from her Fort Worth
property. Home Servicing alleged that the property had been
foreclosed upon, that it owned the property through a
foreclosure sale deed, that it had notified Tillis to vacate
the premises, and that she had refused to do so. Thus, Home
Servicing pled that Tillis had committed forcible
Servicing filed the foreclosure sale deed. That deed recited
that Tillis had signed a deed of trust in 2002; that her
property had been foreclosed upon after she had received a
and had defaulted; and that in September 2014, Home Servicing
had bought the property at a public auction. Home Servicing
also filed a May 2014 foreclosure order from a Tarrant County
district court that recited that Tillis had defaulted on a
loan obligation. The justice court rendered a judgment for a
writ of possession in favor of Home Servicing.
appealed the justice court's judgment to the trial court.
There, she filed a plea to the jurisdiction. In the plea, she
argued, "The deed of trust document upon which [Home
Servicing] relies for its title is a forgery of
[Tillis's] signature, and it is void and unenforceable.
Accordingly, [Home Servicing] does not have valid title or
superior right to possession over
trial court held a hearing in April 2016. Tillis's
counsel told the trial court that Tillis's purported
signature on a deed of trust was a forgery and that the deed
of trust was therefore void. Her counsel contended,
"[I]f there's a forgery it calls into question title
to the real estate that was foreclosed on, [and] title is a
dispute that this court does not have jurisdiction over. The
court must dismiss the forcible detainer action for lack of
jurisdiction . . . ." The trial court asked Tillis's
counsel whether a suit concerning the forgery allegation was
pending, and counsel stated that a suit was pending in
federal court. Counsel represented that there was no final
judgment in the federal case; he indicated that a federal
bankruptcy court had ruled in Home Servicing's favor but
that Tillis had appealed the ruling to a federal district
court. Counsel contended that "until [the federal suit
was] resolved, " the forcible detainer suit in state
court could not proceed. Finally, counsel stated that Tillis
was prepared to testify that the deed of trust was forged.
hearing, the trial court admitted copies of the 2002 security
instrument, the foreclosure sale deed, the state district
court's foreclosure order, and other documents. The
security instrument expressed Tillis's obligation to
repay debt under a note and stated,
It is the express intention of Lender and [Tillis] that
Lender shall have a fully enforceable lien on the Property.
It is also the express intention of Lender and [Tillis] that
Lender's default remedies shall include the most
expeditious means of foreclosure available by law. . . .
If the Property is sold pursuant to this [s]ection . . .,
[Tillis] or any person holding possession of the Property . .
. shall immediately surrender possession of the Property to
the purchaser at that sale. If possession is not surrendered,
[Tillis] or such person . . . may be removed by writ of
possession or other court proceeding.
final page of the security instrument contains a signature
that bears Tillis's name.
the hearing concluded, the court signed a judgment granting
possession of the property to Home Servicing and ordering the
issuance of a writ of possession. Tillis ...