Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

City of Manvel v. Lawson

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

December 21, 2017

CITY OF MANVEL, Appellant
v.
DONALD LEE LAWSON II AND SUZANNE LAWSON, Appellees

         On Appeal from the 23rd District Court Brazoria County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 88177-CV

          Panel consists of Justices Jennings, Massengale, and Caughey.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MICHAEL MASSENGALE JUSTICE

         Appellant, 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 appeal.

         Because we conclude that we lack jurisdiction, we dismiss this appeal.

         Background

         The 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.

         The 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.

         In an 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.

          The 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."[*]

         The City of Manvel filed an interlocutory appeal.

         Analysis

         The 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 pet.).

         "Unless 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.