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Weems v. Motel 6 Operating LP

Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana

July 6, 2017

RUTHEN JAMES WEEMS III, Appellant
v.
MOTEL 6 OPERATING LP, THE CITY OF WACO, AND MCLENNAN COUNTY, ET AL., Appellees

          Submitted: April 5, 2017

         On Appeal from the 414th District Court McLennan County, Texas Trial Court No. 2015-4756-5

          Before Morriss, C.J., Moseley and Burgess, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Bailey C. Moseley Justice

         After Ruthen James Weems, III, was arrested at a motel in Waco[1] by law enforcement officers, he filed this suit against Motel 6 Operating LP (Motel 6), The City of Waco (the City), and McLennan County (the County), asserting claims for, inter alia, invasion of privacy, assault, and false arrest. Motel 6 filed motions for traditional and no-evidence summary judgment, and the City and the County both filed pleas to the jurisdiction, all of which were granted by the trial court.[2] On appeal, Weems complains that the trial court erred in granting the City's and the County's pleas to the jurisdiction because (1) his claims fall within the waiver of sovereign immunity provided in Section 101.021 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, (2) whether the officers' actions were intentional is a fact question for the jury, [3] and (3) the failure of the City and the County to respond to his discovery requests precluded the granting of the pleas to the jurisdiction. Weems also complains that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Motel 6 because (4) the failure of Motel 6 to answer his discovery requests precluded summary judgment in its favor, (5) Motel 6 did not conclusively establish its defense as a matter of law, and (6) he produced evidence of all the elements of his invasion of privacy claim. We find that Weems' claims do not fall within the provisions of Section 101.021 and that Weems has waived his remaining points of error. Therefore, we will affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         I. Waived Points of Error

         Initially, Motel 6 argues that Weems has waived all of his points of error by filing a non-compliant brief. As to most of Weems' points of error, we agree. We note that Weems has not provided any citations to the record in support of any of his points of error. In addition, as to some of his points of error, Weems fails to cite appropriate legal authority or to make a concise argument. An appellant's brief is required to "contain a clear and concise argument for the contentions made, with appropriate citations to authorities and to the record." Tex.R.App.P. 38.1(i). This requirement cannot be satisfied by conclusory statements, unsupported by citation to appropriate legal authority. Betts v. Cty. of Freestone, No. 10-09-00220-CV, 2011 WL 2480007, at *2 (Tex. App.-Waco June 22, 2011, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Taylor v. Meador, 326 S.W.3d 682, 684 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2010, no pet.)).

         "An issue not supported by references to the record is waived." Nguyen v. Kosnoski, 93 S.W.3d 186, 188 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.); see also Giraldo v. Sw. Adventist Univ., No. 10-16-00145-CV, 2017 WL 1573143, at *1 (Tex. App.-Waco Apr. 26, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (issues waived when no citations to the record provided). Further, "[f]ailure to cite legal authority or provide substantive analysis of an issue waives the complaint." Betts, 2011 WL 2480007, at *2 (quoting Taylor, 326 S.W.3d at 684). "An appellate court has no duty to perform an independent review of the record and applicable law to determine whether the error complained of occurred." Id. at *1 (citing Karen Corp. v. The Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 107 S.W.3d 118, 125 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2003, pet. denied); Harkins v. Dever Nursing Home, 999 S.W.2d 571, 573 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1999, no pet.)). If we did so, we would abandon our role as a neutral adjudicator and become an advocate for the appellant. In re Estate of Taylor, 305 S.W.3d 829, 837 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 2010, no pet.) (citing Plummer v. Reeves, 93 S.W.3d 930, 931 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2003, pet. denied) (per curiam)). For the same reason, "we cannot speculate as to the substance of the specific issues appellant claims we must address." Betts, 2011 WL 2480007, at *1 (citing Plummer, 93 S.W.3d at 931). "[P]ro-se litigants are held to the same standards as licensed attorneys with regard to compliance with applicable laws and rules of procedure." Giraldo, 2017 WL 1573143, at *1 (quoting Warren v. McLennan Cty. Judiciary, No. 10-13-00009-CV, 2013 WL 3344166, at *1 n.2 (Tex. App.-Waco June 27, 2013, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Mansfield State Bank v. Cohn, 573 S.W.2d 181, 184-85 (Tex. 1978); In re N.E.B., 251 S.W.3d 211, 211-12 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2008, no pet.)).

         In his second point of error, we believe that Weems may be complaining that (in an effort to circumvent the claims of governmental immunity) whether the conduct of the officers was intentional is a matter to be determined by the jury. Weems makes no citations to the record or to appropriate legal authority in support of this issue. Further, one must engage in substantial speculation to determine that this is truly the gist of Weems' complaint. Since he failed to comply with Rule 38.1(i), Weems has waived this point of error. See id.; Betts, 2011 WL 2480007, at *2.

         In his third and fourth points of error, Weems complains that the City, the County, and Motel 6 failed to comply with his discovery requests and that if they had complied, the trial court would not have granted the pleas to the jurisdiction and the motion for summary judgment. Weems makes no citations to the record to enable us to determine whether these issues have merit or whether they have been preserved for our review. Since he failed to comply with Rule 38.1(i), Weems has waived these points of error. See Giraldo, 2017 WL 1573143, at *3.

         In his fifth point of error, Weems makes the conclusory statement that Motel 6 has failed to establish all of the elements of its defense, then he argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment without requiring all of the appellees to comply with his discovery requests. Again Weems makes no citations to the record. In addition, since his argument addresses a different point of error, we would be required to speculate as what point of error he is asserting. Weems has waived this point of error. See id.; Betts, 2011 WL 2480007, at *1.[4]

         In his sixth point of error, Weems complains the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Motel 6 because he produced evidence of all the elements of his invasion of privacy claim. However, Weems makes no citations to the record where he produced such evidence. In addition, he does not make any argument supporting his claim that Motel 6, assuming it supplied a passkey to the officers, should be held liable for the alleged invasion of privacy. Assertions made in pleadings are not competent summary judgment evidence. Hidalgo v. Surety Savs. & Loan Assoc., 462 S.W.2d 540, 543-44 (Tex. 1971). Weems has waived this point of error.[5] See Giraldo, 2017 WL 1573143, at *3; Betts, 2011 WL 2480007, at *1.

         Since Weems has waived all of his points of error attacking the summary judgment in favor of Motel 6, we will affirm the trial court's judgment in favor of Motel 6.

         II.The Trial Court Did Not Err in Granting the Pleas to ...


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