Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
JEFFREY A. LIPSCOMB, Appellant
CITY OF DALLAS, Appellee
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 Dallas County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-16-01756-A
Justices Bridges, Myers, and Schenck
A. Lipscomb appeals the dismissal of his case for want of
subject-matter jurisdiction based on the City's plea to
the jurisdiction. Appellant brings one issue on appeal that
appears to assert the trial court erred by granting the
City's motion for continuance and by not holding a
hearing on the merits of appellant's case. We affirm the
trial court's judgment.
is pro se before this Court. We liberally construe pro se
pleadings and briefs. Washington v. Bank of N.Y.,
362 S.W.3d 853, 854 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, no pet.).
However, we hold pro se litigants to the same standards as
licensed attorneys and require them to comply with applicable
laws and rules of procedure. Mansfield State Bank v.
Cohn, 573 S.W.2d 181, 184-85 (Tex. 1978);
Washington, 362 S.W.3d at 854. To do otherwise would
give a pro se litigant an unfair advantage over a litigant
who is represented by counsel. Shull v. United Parcel
Serv., 4 S.W.3d 46, 53 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1999, pet.
construing appellant's pleadings, he appears to allege in
his original petition that he was falsely arrested and taken
to a hospital against his will and that City employees stole
his property. Appellant requested damages of $11 million and
payment of his medical expenses. The original petition
purported to sue the Dallas Police Department. The City moved
to dismiss, asserting the police department was not a jural
entity subject to suit. Appellant then filed amended and
supplemental petitions suing the City instead of the police
department. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction
asserting its governmental immunity was not waived for
appellant's claims of false arrest and theft.
See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
101.057(2) (West 2011) (Tort Claims Act's waiver of
immunity "does not apply to a claim . . . arising out of
assault, battery, false imprisonment, or any other
intentional tort . . ."). The City also filed a motion
for continuance requesting the trial date be postponed so the
trial court would have time to rule on the plea to the
jurisdiction before trial. The trial court granted the motion
for continuance. The trial court held a hearing on the plea
to the jurisdiction, but appellant did not attend the
hearing. The trial court and the attorney for the City
described the steps they took to locate appellant and to
notify him of the hearing date. The trial court granted the
plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed the suit.
timely filed a notice of appeal. However, appellant's
brief fails to comply with the rules of appellate procedure.
See Tex. R. App. P. 9.4(d), (e), (i); id.
38.1(c), (d), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k). This Court sent
appellant a letter notifying him of these defects and
requesting that he file an amended brief that complied with
the Rules of Appellate Procedure. The letter warned appellant
that the failure to file a brief that complied with the Rules
of Appellate Procedure could result in dismissal of his
appeal. Appellant did not file an amended brief.
Besides the above defects, appellant's brief contains no
cognizable argument pertaining to the proceedings in the
trial court. Construed liberally, appellant's issue on
appeal appears to complain of the trial court's granting
the City's motion for continuance and the failure to hold
a hearing on the merits of his petition. However, the
argument section of appellant's brief does not appear to
address whether the trial court abused its discretion by
granting the motion for continuance. Appellant was not
entitled to a hearing on the merits of his suit unless the
trial court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the suit.
See RSL Funding, LLC v. Pippins, 499 S.W.3d 423, 429
(Tex. 2016) ("[A]bsent jurisdiction, a court cannot
address the merits of a case."). We apply an
abuse-of-discretion standard to review a trial court's
decision to grant a motion for continuance. Vitol, Inc.
v. Harris Cnty. Appraisal Dist., 529 S.W.3d 159, 176
(Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, no pet.).
argument does not address the City's plea to the
jurisdiction and does not demonstrate that the trial court
abused its discretion by granting the plea to the
jurisdiction.Therefore, appellant has not shown the
trial court erred by not holding a hearing on the merits of
his suit. We overrule appellant's issue on appeal.
affirm the trial court's judgment.
accordance with this Court's opinion of this date, the
judgment of the trial court is AFFIRMED.
ORDERED that appellee CITY OF DALLAS recover
its costs of this appeal ...