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Phelan v. Goodbuys USA Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

May 2, 2019

ROSEMARY C. PHELAN, Appellant
v.
GOODBUYS USA INC., Appellee

          On Appeal from the County Civil Court at Law No. 1 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1099559

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Jewell, and Hassan.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Kevin Jewell Justice

         In this appeal from a forcible detainer action, appellant Rosemary C. Phelan challenges a judgment awarding appellee Goodbuys USA Inc. immediate possession of real property. Phelan asserts that the county court at law lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide possession because a title dispute must be, but has not been, resolved first. Phelan, however, provides no evidence of such an intertwined dispute that deprived the county court at law of jurisdiction, and we affirm. Because all dispositive issues are settled in law, we issue this memorandum opinion. See Tex. R. App. P. 47.4.

         Background

         Goodbuys filed this forcible detainer action in a Harris County justice court to obtain possession of real property located at 5205 Sue Marie Lane, Houston, Texas 77091 (the "Property"). Goodbuys alleged that it purchased the Property in December 2016, that Phelan and all other occupants were tenants at sufferance who had been provided notice to vacate and refused to do so, and that it had a superior right to possess the Property. Phelan filed an answer and a verified plea to the jurisdiction, asserting that a title dispute involving ownership of the Property must be resolved before possession could be determined. The justice court ruled in Goodbuys' favor, implicitly denying Phelan's jurisdictional plea. The judgment awarded Goodbuys possession of the Property.

         Phelan appealed the judgment to the county court at law, which conducted a de novo non-jury trial. The trial court found in favor of Goodbuys, ordering that a writ of possession issue in its favor and stating in its judgment:

Jurisdiction
The Court examined the pleadings and heard the evidence and argument of counsel. The Court finds that all necessary residence qualifications and prerequisites of law have been legally satisfied, and that this Court has jurisdiction of all the parties and subject matter of this cause. All persons entitled to citation were properly cited or made an appearance.
Jury and Record
The making of a record of testimony was conducted by the official court reporter for the County Civil Court at Law No. 1 for Harris County, Texas. With the consent of the court all parties waived their right to a jury and all matters in controversy, including questions of fact and of law, were submitted to the Court.

         Findings

         The Court finds that the material allegations in Plaintiff's Original Petition for Eviction are true.

         Phelan filed a timely notice of appeal. We have a clerk's record from the county court at law proceedings, ...


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