LATIA M. JONES, Appellant
RGJ APARTMENTS INC., A/K/A RGJ INC., A/K/A VICTORIA PARK APARTMENTS, A/K/A RGJ APTS INC., A/K/A VICTORIA PARK APARTMENT HOME INC., Appellee
Appeal from the 295th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2017-44729
consists of Justices Christopher, Bourliot, and Spain.
Charles A. Spain Justice.
RGJ Apartments Inc., a/k/a RGJ Inc., a/k/a Victoria Park
Apartments, a/k/a RGJ Apts Inc., a/k/a Victoria Park
Apartment Home Inc. ("RGJ") brought a prior
eviction case against appellant Latia M. Jones. Judgment was
awarded in favor of RGJ. Jones subsequently sued RGJ in
Harris County district court for defamation. Both Jones and
RGJ filed traditional motions for summary judgment. The trial
court denied Jones's motion in an order signed December
7, 2017. The trial court also signed a final summary judgment
on December 7, 2017, which granted RGJ's motion for
summary judgment. Jones appeals from the denial of her motion
for summary judgment. We affirm.
2015, RGJ brought an eviction action against Jones in Harris
County Justice of the Peace Court, Precinct 5, Place 1.
See Tex. R. Civ. P. 500.3(d), 510. The justice court
rendered judgment in favor of RGJ against Jones. Jones
appealed to the Harris County Court at Law No. 2, where trial
proceeded de novo. See id. 506.1-.3, 510.9- .10. In
November 2015, the county court signed its final judgment and
order of possession in favor of RGJ and against Jones. RGJ
also was awarded a monetary judgment for rent deficiency. In
2017, Jones deposited funds into the registry of the trial
court. RGJ moved to withdraw those funds and filed a release
filed an original petition against RGJ, alleging that RGJ did
not file a release of judgment in justice court and RGJ
"further ruined [Jones's] reputation by and through
a third party [credit reporting service] who has maliciously
reported a debt on [her] credit report and refuses to stop
reporting it." RGJ filed a general denial, and in
defense of Jones's claim, RGJ alleged justification,
collateral estoppel, lack of condition precedent, lack of
ripeness, and truth.
filed a traditional motion for summary judgment. RGJ noted
that Jones's petition was unclear but "seem[ed] to
complain of a libel or slander." RGJ argued there were
no genuine issues of material fact as to the requisite
defamation element of publication. RGJ also argued
there were no genuine issues of material fact on its truth
and collateral-estoppel defenses.
also filed a traditional motion for summary judgment. RGJ
filed a response to Jones's motion, an objection to
incompetent summary-judgment evidence, and a motion to
strike. Jones filed a response to RGJ's objection.
December 7, 2017, the trial court signed an order denying
Jones's motion for summary judgment. Also, on December 7,
2017, the trial court signed a final summary judgment in
which it granted RGJ's motion for summary judgment and
ordered that Jones take nothing by her suit. The trial court
did not specify any ground for granting summary judgment in
its final judgment.
single issue on appeal concerns whether "the trial court
err[ed] in its decision to deny . . . Jones'[s] Motion
for Summary Judgement as a matter of law."
stated above, the trial court also considered RGJ's
motion for summary judgment and granted it. In its motion,
RGJ argued that it was entitled to summary judgment in its
favor and Jones could not recover on her defamation claim as
a matter of law for three reasons:
• First, because the county court, not RGJ, was the
publisher of the judgment about ...