MARY F. IVERSON, Appellant
LEIF PUTNAM, Appellee
Appeal from the County Court No. 3 Galveston County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 12-FD-3216-A
consists of Justices Busby, Donovan, and Jewell.
BRETT BUSBY JUSTICE.
Mary Iverson brings an interlocutory appeal from the trial
court's partial denial of her traditional motion for
summary judgment asserting the affirmative defense of
qualified immunity. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§ 51.014(a)(5) (West 2015). Because Iverson did not meet
her burden of proving qualified immunity, we affirm. We do
not reach Iverson's other arguments, which relate to
claims not before us on appeal.
Leif Putnam and Christine Hays divorced in 2008. The divorce
decree designated Putnam as the non-custodial parent of their
daughter, and he was ordered to pay $500 per month in child
support. Putnam's daughter has resided with him
continuously since May 2010. Hays voluntarily relinquished
care, custody, and control of the child to Putnam.
filed a petition to modify the parent-child relationship in
January 2012. In February 2012, Putnam and Hays signed an
agreed final order in which Putnam became the custodial
parent. Putnam did not make child support payments in January
or February 2012. The final order did not address or resolve
the amount, if any, of child support that may have accrued
under the previous divorce decree.
August 2012, the Special Collections Unit of the Office of
the Attorney General (SCU) sent a notice of lien to
Putnam's bank stating that he owed $4, 037.50 in unpaid
child support. Iverson was the manager of the SCU, and the
notice of lien bears her signature. The SCU also mailed
Putnam a notice of lien and administrative writ of
receiving the notice, Putnam went to the local unit of the
Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division
and provided the February 2012 agreed final order to
demonstrate that he now had legal custody of his daughter.
The SCU determined that Putnam still might owe $1, 000 for
payments that accrued in January and February 2012. The SCU
authorized the bank to release all but $1, 000 of the $4,
037.50 that had been frozen. The local unit tried to contact
Hays to ask if she wanted to seek the $1, 000 in unpaid child
support. In October 2012, Hays confirmed that she would not
seek unpaid child support, and the lien was released in full.
was also given notice that the Office of the Attorney General
would provide monthly information to credit bureaus
concerning his child support account. The September 2012
report to the credit bureaus showed that Putnam owed a
balance of unpaid child support before he became the
sued then-Attorney General Greg Abbott and Iverson in their
official capacities and Iverson in her individual capacity.
Defendants filed a plea to the jurisdiction, and the trial
court dismissed all claims. In a previous appeal, we held
that most of Putnam's claims were either moot or
precluded by sovereign immunity, but we reversed and remanded
Putnam's claim against Iverson in her individual
capacity. Putnam v. Iverson, No. 14-13-00369-CV,
2014 WL 3955110 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 14,
2014, pet. denied) (mem. op.).
brought his claim against Iverson individually under section
1983, alleging that she deprived him of his Fifth Amendment,
Fourteenth Amendment, and statutory rights to procedural due
process. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2014). He
alleged in his petition that he had a right to a hearing
before his bank account was subjected to a lien and before he
was reported to the credit bureaus as owing unpaid child
support. Putnam sought actual damages, including $2, 500 in
interest paid on borrowed funds as well as compensation for
mental anguish, damage to his credit reputation, and time
lost from work.
filed a traditional motion for summary judgment arguing that
she was entitled to qualified immunity and that she had
conclusively shown Putnam could not prevail on his procedural
due process claim. The trial court granted her motion in
part, but it denied the motion as to Putnam's section
1983 claim against Iverson in her individual capacity because
"material fact issues exist regarding whether any
grounds existed for [Iverson] to have signed ...