Appeal from the 23rd District Court Brazoria County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 88177-CV
consists of Justices Jennings, Massengale, and Caughey.
MICHAEL MASSENGALE JUSTICE
the City of Manvel, attempts to appeal an interlocutory order
of the trial court. The city contends that an order granting
a new trial was, in substance, an order denying its plea to
the jurisdiction. The appellees, Donald Lee Lawson II and
Suzanne Lawson, argue that we lack jurisdiction to hear this
we conclude that we lack jurisdiction, we dismiss this
Lawsons own two parcels of land in Brazoria County, within
the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Manvel. They
brought a declaratory judgment action against the city and a
local developer after their property became landlocked and
inaccessible due to residential development and the
abandonment of certain rights of way or roadways. The
Lawsons' petition sought relief relating to four claims:
(1) improper abandonment of a dedicated road, (2) inverse
condemnation, (3) trespass to real property, and (4) a
dispute over whether Brazoria County or the City of Manvel
was the governing authority.
city filed a plea to the jurisdiction in which it raised
three arguments. First, the city argued that the Lawsons'
claim regarding abandonment of the right-of-way was mooted by
Brazoria County's approval of it. Next, the city asserted
that the Lawsons' tort claims arose from the city's
governmental functions, for which immunity is not waived
under the TTCA. Finally, the city contended that the
Lawsons' takings claim was barred because the facts
conclusively showed that the city did not obstruct the
rights-of-way in question.
order signed by a visiting judge, the trial court granted the
plea and dismissed the claims against the city. This was an
interlocutory order because the Lawsons also had sued a
developer, and the trial court did not sever those claims.
Lawsons filed a motion for new trial, in which they argued
that their claims were not barred by governmental immunity.
The trial court granted the motion for new trial in an order
setting aside the prior grant of the plea to the jurisdiction
"granted by an assigned judge" and stating that a
new trial was warranted "because there is a disputed
question of fact."[*]
City of Manvel filed an interlocutory appeal.
Lawsons argue that we lack interlocutory appellate
jurisdiction. We have the obligation to determine our
jurisdiction when either the parties or circumstances of the
appeal call it into question. Jack M. Sanders Family Ltd.
P'ship v. Roger T. Fridholm Revocable, Living Tr.,
434 S.W.3d 236, 240 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2014, no
a statute authorizes an interlocutory appeal, appellate
courts generally only have jurisdiction over final
judgments." CMH Homes v. Perez, 340 S.W.3d 444,
447 (Tex. 2011); see Tex. A & M Univ. Sys. v.
Koseoglu, 233 S.W.3d 835, 841 (Tex. 2007). Appeals from
certain interlocutory orders are authorized by statute,
including an appeal from an order that grants or denies a
plea to the jurisdiction by a governmental unit. Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code § 51.014(a)(8). The Supreme Court
of Texas has held that the statute authorizing interlocutory
appeals is "strictly construed" as a "narrow
exception to the general rule that only final judgments are
appealable." Koseoglu, 233 S.W.3d at 841
(quoting Bally Total Fitness Corp. v. Jackson, 53
S.W.3d 352, 355 (Tex. 2001)). "The absence of
subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised by a plea to the
jurisdiction, as well as by other procedural vehicles, such
as a motion for summary ...