EASTLAND COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT AND BROWN COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT, Appellants
PENINSULA PIPELINES (NORTH TEXAS), LLC, Appellee
Appeal from the 91st District Court Eastland County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. CV1644175
consists of: Bailey, C.J., Willson, J., and Wright, S.C.J.
M. BAILEY CHIEF JUSTICE
interlocutory appeal, Appellants, the Eastland County
Appraisal District and the Brown County Appraisal District,
assert that the trial court erred by denying their plea to
the jurisdiction. We conclude that we do not have
jurisdiction over this appeal because the issue raised in
Appellants' plea to the jurisdiction does not implicate
the trial court's subject-matter jurisdiction. Therefore,
we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
Peninsula Pipelines (North Texas), LLC (Peninsula), owns an
integrated pipeline system that runs through, or is operated
in, nine counties and that is appraised by nine county
appraisal districts. For the 2016 tax year, Peninsula
protested the appraised value of the pipeline in hearings
before the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) in each county.
Dissatisfied with the results of the ARB hearings, Peninsula
filed six individual petitions for review against the
appraisal districts of six different counties under a single
cause number in the 91st District Court of Eastland County.
relied upon Section 42.221 of the Tax Code for filing these
petitions. Each petition asserted claims against only one
appraisal district. In each petition, Peninsula stated that
it would file a total of nine petitions. Peninsula had filed
petitions for review from six ARB orders at the time the
trial court heard Appellants' plea to the jurisdiction.
filed the first petition for review against the Eastland
County Appraisal District and the second petition against the
Brown County Appraisal District. These two petitions were
filed on the same day, approximately two hours apart.
Peninsula filed a third petition against the Coleman County
Appraisal District immediately after filing the petition
against the Brown County Appraisal District. Peninsula
denoted the first petition as "the first of nine,"
and the second petition as "the second of nine,"
and the third petition as "the third of nine." None
of these pleadings were labeled as amended pleadings or
filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting that the trial
court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because there was no
justiciable issue between them and Peninsula. Appellants
specifically argued that they had been dismissed from the
lawsuit when Peninsula subsequently filed petitions that did
not contain any claims against them. Appellants are
essentially arguing that the Eastland County Appraisal
District was no longer a party when Peninsula filed the
second petition against the Brown County Appraisal District
approximately two hours later and that the Brown County
Appraisal District was only a party to the suit for an
instant because Peninsula filed the third petition against
the Coleman County Appraisal District moments later. Based
upon Appellants' contention that they no longer remained
parties to the suit, Appellants asserted that the trial court
no longer had subject-matter jurisdiction over
Peninsula's claims against them. The trial court
disagreed with this contention by denying the plea to the
jurisdiction, and Appellants filed this interlocutory appeal.
three issues, Appellants contend the trial court erred by
denying the plea to the jurisdiction because (1) pursuant to
the Rules of Civil Procedure, Peninsula dismissed its claims
against Appellants by filing amended petitions that omitted
causes of action against them; (2) Section 42.221 of the Tax
Code does not allow Peninsula to file cumulative pleadings
under a single cause number; and (3) Peninsula is unable to
replead its claims because more than sixty days have elapsed
since Peninsula received notice of the Eastland County and
Brown County ARB orders. Appellants assert that, as a result,
there is no "live controversy" and that the
district court has "no subject matter jurisdiction"
first consider our jurisdiction over this interlocutory
appeal. See State ex rel. Best v. Harper, 562 S.W.3d
1, 7 (Tex. 2018) (noting appellate court "must consider
issues affecting [its] jurisdiction sua sponte"); In
re City of Dallas, 501 S.W.3d 71, 73 (Tex. 2016)
(original proceeding) (per curiam) ("[A] court is
duty-bound to determine its jurisdiction regardless of
whether the parties have questioned it."). Whether we
have jurisdiction is a question of law. Tex. A&M
Univ. Sys. v. Koseoglu, 233 S.W.3d 835, 840 (Tex. 2007).
an appellate court may consider appeals from interlocutory
orders only when a statute expressly confers such
jurisdiction. Crosstex Energy Servs., L.P. v. Pro Plus,
Inc., 430 S.W.3d 384, 387-88 (Tex. 2014). As
relevant here, Section 51.014(a)(8) of the Texas Civil
Practice and Remedies Code provides that a person may appeal
from an interlocutory order that "grants or denies a
plea to the jurisdiction by a governmental unit." Tex.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a)(8) (West
to the jurisdiction challenges a trial court's power to
exercise subject-matter jurisdiction over a claim. Tex.
Dep't of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d
217, 225-26 (Tex. 2004); City of Merkel v. Copeland,
561 S.W.3d 720, 723 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2018, pet. denied).
However, the reference to "plea to the
jurisdiction" in Section 51.014(a)(8) refers to the
substance of the issue raised, not to a particular procedural
vehicle. Tex. Dep't of Criminal Justice v.
Simons, 140 S.W.3d 338, 349 (Tex. 2004). If a pleading
does not raise an issue that can be jurisdictional, then it
is not a "plea to the jurisdiction" for purposes of