Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
THE 16TH DISTRICT COURT OF DENTON COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
SUDDERTH, C.J.; GABRIEL and KERR, JJ.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
SUDDERTH CHIEF JUSTICE
case arises from an unfortunate family dispute among
Appellants Roger Liverman and Aaron Liverman, on the one
side, and Katheryn Payne Hall (Roger's daughter and
Aaron's sister) on the other. The dispute is rooted in a
disagreement over mechanic's liens filed by Appellants
against Hall's home in 2008. See Liverman v.
State, 470 S.W.3d 831, 833-34 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015). As
a result of the filings, Appellants were charged with and
convicted of securing the execution of documents by
deception. See id.; Tex. Penal Code Ann. §
32.46(a)(1) (West 2016) (providing that a person commits an
offense if, by deception, he "causes another to sign or
execute any document affecting property . . . of any
person"). This court reversed the convictions and
acquitted both Appellants, holding that the county clerk had
not "sign[ed] or execut[ed]" the lien affidavits as
required to support the conviction. Liverman v.
State, 448 S.W.3d 155, 159 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2014)
(mem. op.) (reversing Roger's conviction),
aff'd, 470 S.W.3d at 839; Liverman v.
State, 447 S.W.3d 889, 892- 93 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth
2014) (mem. op.) (reversing Aaron's conviction),
aff'd, 470 S.W.3d at 839. The court of criminal
appeals affirmed both decisions in 2015. Liverman,
470 S.W.3d at 839.
October 2016, Appellants filed, pro se, a complaint of
malicious prosecution against Hall and the Appellees: Denton
County, Texas; Paul Johnson, the criminal district attorney
of Denton County, as an employee and in his individual
capacity; and three assistant criminal district
attorneys-Lara Tomlin, Rick Daniel, and Lindsey Sheguit-as
employees and in their individual capacities. Appellees filed
a plea to the jurisdiction in response, asserting that
Appellants' claims were precluded by sovereign and
governmental immunity. After a hearing, the trial court
granted the Appellees' plea to the jurisdiction and
dismissed Appellants' claims against the Appellees with
prejudice. The trial court did not address the
Appellants' claims against Hall, which remain pending.
Our jurisdiction over an interlocutory appeal
we address the substance of this appeal, we must consider our
jurisdiction. See Freedom Commc'ns, Inc. v.
Coronado, 372 S.W.3d 621, 623- 24 (Tex. 2012)
("[W]e must consider our jurisdiction, even if that
consideration is sua sponte."). This is an interlocutory
appeal because the trial court's order of dismissal did
not dismiss the Appellants' claims against Hall. See
Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 200 (Tex. 2001)
(noting that a judgment is final only if it disposes of all
remaining parties and claims). Generally, we only have
jurisdiction to hear an appeal from a final judgment.
Jack B. Anglin Co. v. Tipps, 842 S.W.2d 266, 272
(Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). We may only consider
immediate appeals of interlocutory orders if a statute
explicitly provides appellate jurisdiction. Stary v.
DeBord, 967 S.W.2d 352, 352-53 (Tex. 1998).
51.014(8) of the civil practice and remedies code provides us
with jurisdiction over an interlocutory appeal from the
granting of a plea to the jurisdiction by a governmental
unit, such as Denton County. See Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(8) (West Supp. 2017)
(providing that a person may appeal an interlocutory order
that grants a plea to the jurisdiction by a governmental
unit); § 101.001(3)(B) (West Supp. 2017) (defining
"governmental unit" to include a county as a
political subdivision of the state). The Texas Supreme Court
has also held that this jurisdiction extends to claims filed
against officials sued in their official capacities. Tex.
A&M Univ. Sys. v. Koseoglu, 233 S.W.3d 835, 845
(Tex. 2007). We therefore have jurisdiction over the
interlocutory appeal of the dismissal of claims made against
Denton County and Johnson, Tomlin, Daniel, and Sheguit in
their official capacities.
not, however, have jurisdiction over the dismissal of
Appellants' claims against Johnson, Tomlin, Daniel, and
Sheguit in their individual capacities. See Adams v.
Harris Cty., No. 04-15-00287-CV, 2015 WL 8392426, at *4
(Tex. App.-San Antonio Dec. 9, 2015, pet. denied) (mem. op.)
(dismissing for lack of jurisdiction interlocutory appeal of
grant of plea to the jurisdiction of claims filed against
appellate court clerk in his personal capacity); Sanders
v. City of Grapevine, 218 S.W.3d 772, 776 (Tex.
App.-Fort Worth 2007, pets. denied) (dismissing for lack of
jurisdiction interlocutory appeal of order granting
individual appellees' motion to dismiss). The assertions
of immunity by Johnson, Tomlin, Daniel, and Sheguit were
personal defenses, not ones based on the governmental
unit's immunity, and therefore do not fall within the
purview of section 51.014(8). See Adams, 2015 WL
8392426, at *4. Accordingly, we dismiss the portion of
Appellants' appeal that complains of the trial
court's dismissal of their claims against Johnson,
Tomlin, Daniel, and Sheguit in their individual capacities.
Immunity of Denton County and officials of the district
immunity defeats a trial court's subject matter
jurisdiction and thus is properly asserted in a plea to the
jurisdiction. See Tex. Dep't of Parks & Wildlife
v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 225-26 (Tex. 2004). The
trial court must determine at its earliest opportunity
whether it has the constitutional or statutory authority to
decide the case before allowing the litigation to proceed,
and we will review the trial court's ruling de novo.
Id. at 226. It is the plaintiff's burden to
allege facts that affirmatively demonstrate the court's
jurisdiction, and we will construe the pleadings liberally in
favor of the plaintiff and consider the plaintiff's
a waiver of liability by the State, Denton County is entitled
to governmental immunity from Appellants' claims. See
Tex. Nat. Res. Conservation Comm'n v. IT-Davy, 74
S.W.3d 849, 853 (Tex. 2002) (plurality op.) ("If the
Legislature has not expressly waived immunity from suit, the
State retains such immunity even if its liability is not
disputed."); see also Tex. Civ. Prac. &
Rem. Code Ann. § 101.021 (West 2011) (waiving
governmental immunity in three areas: use of publicly owned
vehicles, premises defects, and injuries arising from
conditions or use of property). The Texas Tort Claims Act
does not waive immunity for intentional torts, such as
malicious prosecution. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§ 101.057(2) (West 2011) (excluding intentional torts
from waiver of immunity); City of Hempstead v.
Kmiec, 902 S.W.2d 118, 122 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st
Dist.] 1995, no writ) (holding TTCA did not waive immunity
for the intentional torts of false arrest, malicious
prosecution, and defamation by the City). This immunity
further extends to Johnson and his assistant district
attorneys for actions taken in their official capacities.
See City of El Paso v. Heinrich, 284 S.W.3d 366, 380
(Tex. 2009) ("[G]overnmental immunity protects
government officers sued in their official capacities to the
extent that it protects their employers.").
brief to this court does not provide any authority
establishing a waiver of governmental immunity. Appellants
instead rely upon the Supreme Court's recent holding in a
suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that the Fourth Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution governs a claim for unlawful pretrial
detention. See Manuel v. City of Joliet, Ill., 137
S.Ct. 911, 914 (2017). ...