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Jamison v. Inn

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

July 13, 2017

Thomas A. Jamison and Thomas E. Lowe, Appellants
v.
Lake Travis Inn and RV Park, Brenda Horton, Ronnie March, and Suzy March, Appellees

         FROM COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 1 OF TRAVIS COUNTY NO. C-1-CV-16-003787, HONORABLE TODD T. WONG, JUDGE PRESIDING

          Before Chief Justice Rose, Justices Field and Bourland

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Scott K. Field, Justice

         Appellees Lake Travis Inn and RV Park, Brenda Horton, Ronnie March, and Suzy March (collectively, the Park) gave appellant Thomas A. Jamison and his son Thomas E. Lowe (the Plaintiffs) written notice requesting that they vacate the lot on which they were living in a recreational vehicle. Jamison and Lowe vacated the property and later sued the Park, asserting causes of action for "Unlawful Eviction, " "Unlawfully withholding Security Deposit, " "Harassment, " "Intentional infliction of emotional distress, " and "Fraud." Following a bench trial, [1] the trial court signed a final judgment ordering that the Plaintiffs take nothing on their claims and that the Park take nothing on its counterclaim for attorney's fees.[2] In four appellate issues, the Plaintiffs complain that the trial court abused its discretion in not granting them a pre-trial conference, that the trial court did not admit all of their evidence or allow them to fully represent themselves at trial, that the trial court was not fair and impartial, and that the trial court erred in not recognizing a landlord-tenant relationship between the Park and the Plaintiffs. We will affirm the trial court's final judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         Issue 1

         In their first issue, the Plaintiffs contend that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to provide them with a pre-trial conference. Whether to hold a pre-trial conference is in the trial court's discretion. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 166. The record before us contains no indication that the Plaintiffs ever asked for a pre-trial conference until they asserted in their motion for new trial that the trial court should have granted them one. Therefore, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in not holding a pre-trial conference. Accordingly, we overrule the Plaintiffs' first issue.

         Issue 2

         In their second issue, the Plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in failing to consider some of their pleadings and in refusing to admit some of the evidence they offered. We will address each of these pleadings and pieces of evidence in turn.

         First, the Plaintiffs complain that the trial court never ruled on their motion for summary judgment. However, nothing in the record before us indicates that the Plaintiffs ever attempted to have their motion set for a hearing. Therefore, we cannot conclude that the trial court committed reversible error in not ruling on the Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. See Goodman v. Doss, No. 13-15-00079-CV, 2016 WL 455328, at *3 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi Feb. 4, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.) ("Here, Goodman did not request or set a hearing on his motions to compel discovery, did not obtain a ruling on any of his motions, and did not file either an affidavit explaining the need for further discovery or a verified motion for continuance prior to the summary judgment. Accordingly, Goodman failed to preserve error, if any.") (citations omitted); In re Archer, No. 05-15-00020-CV, 2015 WL 128579, at *2 (Tex. App.-Dallas Jan. 9, 2015, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.) ("A court is not required to consider a motion that has not been properly called to its attention. The duty to procure a hearing rests on the moving party, not upon the trial judge. A judge's failure to set a motion for hearing, when not asked to make such a setting, is not an abuse of discretion.") (citations omitted); Corona v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 245 S.W.3d 75, 84-85 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 2008, pet. denied) ("Corona failed to preserve any error for our review. It was Corona's responsibility to request a hearing and obtain a ruling on the motion to transfer venue. Corona waived any issue concerning venue by not requesting a hearing or ruling.") (citation omitted); In re Davidson, 153 S.W.3d 490, 491 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2004, orig. proceeding) ("A court is not required to consider a motion not called to its attention. Showing that a motion was filed with the court clerk does not constitute proof that the motion was brought to the trial court's attention or presented to the trial court with a request for a ruling.") (citation omitted).

         The Plaintiffs also assert that the trial court ignored their "Motion to Disqualify Attorney, " "Memorandum of Law, " and "Motion to Take Judicial Notice." However, the Plaintiffs filed these documents after the trial court had signed the final judgment. Moreover, nothing in the record before us indicates that the Plaintiffs requested a hearing on these documents. Therefore, we cannot conclude that the trial court committed reversible error in not ruling on them.

         In addition, the Plaintiffs argue that they "should have been permitted to submit every piece of evidence that they attempted to submit" at the bench trial and complain that the trial court excluded some of their evidence. Specifically, the Plaintiffs complain that the trial court refused to admit a "discharge paper from Austin Oaks Hospital" and "a video tapped [sic] recording of a conversation between Appellant Thomas Jamison and Appellee." We review the admission or exclusion of evidence under an abuse-of-discretion standard. See Southwestern Energy Prod. Co. v. Berry-Helfand, 491 S.W.3d 699, 716 (Tex. 2016); Banks v. Bank of Am., N.A., No. 03-16-00046-CV, 2017 WL 1832489, at *3 (Tex. App.-Austin May 4, 2017, no pet. h.) (mem. op.). The Plaintiffs offered these items after resting their case, and they have not provided any legal argument concerning their admissibility. Therefore, we cannot conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding this evidence.

         The Plaintiffs also complain that the trial court refused to admit a "HUD Housing Complaint." When the Plaintiffs offered this document, the Park objected on the basis of relevance and hearsay, and the trial court sustained the objection. On appeal, the Plaintiffs argue that this document "should have been considered as evidence that Appellants['] claims of threats to evict due to visits from the Mental Health Expanded Mobile Crisis Unit and Travis County Sherriff's [sic] Deputies were true." However, the Plaintiffs have not challenged the trial court's conclusion that the document was inadmissible hearsay. Moreover, even if the document was admissible, the Plaintiffs have not explained how they were harmed by its exclusion. See Tex. R. App. P. 44.1(a) ("No judgment may be reversed on appeal on the ground that the trial court made an error of law unless the court of appeals concludes that the error complained of: (1) probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment; or (2) probably prevented the appellant from properly presenting the case to the court of appeals.").

         Finally, the Plaintiffs argue that the "Trial Court ignored the timing of the eviction that occurred immediately after discharge of Appellant Thomas Lowe from the psychiatric hospital as evidence supporting claims of discrimination for mental illness" and that the trial court "did not even wait for the department of HUD to conclude [its] investigation to deny relief to Appellants." However, the Plaintiffs have not cited any legal authorities or otherwise explained why these alleged actions constitute reversible error. Specifically, the Plaintiffs have not directed our attention to any authority holding that the trial ...


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