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Hollis v. Acclaim Physician Group, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

July 25, 2019

Drue Allen Hollis, Appellant
v.
Acclaim Physician Group, Inc.; Tarrant County Hospital District d/b/a JPS Health Network; Probate Court No. 1 of Tarrant County; Probate Court No. 2 of Tarrant County; TC Probate Courts 1 and 2; University of North Texas Health Science Center; ProPath Associates, P.L.L.C.; Tarrant County Sheriff, Bill E. Waybourn; and Mesa Springs, L.L.C., Appellees

          On Appeal from the 352nd District Court Tarrant County, Texas Trial Court No. 352-301866-18

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Per Curiam.

         I. Introduction

         Appellant Drue Allen Hollis, a former involuntarily-committed mental health patient, filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit against Appellees, which include Acclaim Physician Group, Inc.; Tarrant County Hospital District d/b/a JPS Health Network; Probate Court No. 1 of Tarrant County; Probate Court No. 2 of Tarrant County; University of North Texas Health Science Center; ProPath Associates, P.L.L.C.; Tarrant County Sheriff, Bill E. Waybourn; and Mesa Springs, L.L.C. After holding a hearing on Appellees' motions to dismiss and to declare Hollis a vexatious litigant, the trial court signed an order declaring Hollis a vexatious litigant, requiring him to post security, and prohibiting him from filing any new pro se litigation without first obtaining the local administrative judge's permission. Hollis appeals from this order, alleging numerous issues in the "Issues Presented" section of his brief.

         Most of the issues in the "Issues Presented" section of Hollis's brief have been waived due to inadequate briefing. The two issues in his brief for which he provided some analysis include an issue arguing that 42 U.S.C. § 1988 preempts chapter 11 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code and an issue arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because 42 U.S.C. § 1988 preempted the vexatious-litigant statutes and did not confer jurisdiction on the trial court. Because Hollis waived his choice-of-law preemption argument by failing to raise it in the trial court and because the trial court properly exercised jurisdiction under the Texas vexatious-litigant statutes, we affirm the prefiling portion of the vexatious-litigant order. We dismiss for lack of jurisdiction any portion of Hollis's appeal that could be construed as challenging the amount of the bond that the trial court ordered him to post.

         II. Background

         In twelve separate proceedings between 2009 and 2018, Hollis was involuntarily committed for observation and treatment because he was likely to cause serious harm to himself or to others; was unable to make a rational and informed decision as to whether to submit to treatment; was suffering severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical distress; and was experiencing substantial mental or physical deterioration of his ability to function independently. Hollis's twelve mental health proceedings were filed in the two Tarrant County statutory probate courts. In connection with the mental health proceedings, Hollis received treatment or services from the following entities: Acclaim Physician Group, Inc.; Tarrant County Hospital District d/b/a JPS Health Network; University of North Texas Health Science Center; ProPath Associates, P.L.L.C.; and Mesa Springs, L.L.C.

         In 2015, Hollis filed his first of six lawsuits against the two statutory probate courts, his mental healthcare providers, and others. All six of Hollis's lawsuits were dismissed. Hollis appealed two of the dismissals, and the appeals were dismissed. See Hollis v. Mental Health Mental Retardation, No. 02-18-00134-CV, 2018 WL 3763702, at *1 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth Aug. 9, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.) (granting Hollis's motion to dismiss appeal); Hollis v. Tarrant Cty. Probate Court One, No. 08-17-00091- CV, 2017 WL 2889059, at *1 (Tex. App.-El Paso July 7, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (dismissing appeal for want of prosecution).

         In 2018, Hollis filed the underlying lawsuit.[1] Hollis also filed a lawsuit against MHMR.[2] Hollis thus filed eight lawsuits in less than five years.

         Appellees Probate Court No. 1 of Tarrant County and Probate Court No. 2 of Tarrant County filed a joint motion to dismiss and to declare Hollis a vexatious litigant. Appellee Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn filed a similar motion. All other Appellees joined in the motion filed by the two statutory probate courts.

         The trial court held a hearing on the motions to dismiss and granted the motions the following day. The trial court found that Hollis met the criteria established by chapter 11 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code to be declared a vexatious litigant. After determining that Hollis was a vexatious litigant, the trial court ordered Hollis to provide security to Appellees in the amount of $7, 000 and stated that the failure to post a bond within thirty days would result in the lawsuit's dismissal with prejudice. The trial court's vexatious-litigant order also includes a prefiling order prohibiting Hollis from filing any new litigation without the written permission of the local administrative judge. Hollis posted a $7, 000 cash bond and filed a notice of appeal of the trial court's vexatious-litigant order.

         III. This Court's Jurisdiction

         This court recently set forth the law concerning this court's jurisdiction over appeals from vexatious-litigant orders that arise under chapter 11 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code:

Chapter 11 of the civil practice and remedies code provides two different methods for restricting vexatious litigation. See [Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.] §§ 11.051-.104. See generally Leonard v. Abbott, 171 S.W.3d 451, 457 (Tex. App.-Austin 2005, pet. denied) ("The purpose of chapter eleven is to restrict frivolous and vexatious litigation."); Devoll v. State, 155 S.W.3d 498, 501 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2004, no pet.) ("Chapter Eleven of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code provides a framework for courts and attorneys to curb vexatious litigation."). The first, available under section 11.051, provides that a defendant may-within 90 days of filing an original answer or making a special appearance-move for an order determining that the plaintiff is a vexatious litigant and requiring him to furnish security. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 11.051. If, after notice and hearing, the trial court determines that the plaintiff is vexatious, the trial court must order the plaintiff to furnish security "for the benefit of the moving defendant" and must "determine the date by which the security must be furnished." See id. §§ 11.053-.055. If the plaintiff fails to furnish the ordered security, the trial court must dismiss the plaintiff's claims as to the moving defendant. Id. § 11.056. There is no interlocutory appeal available from an order declaring a plaintiff to be a vexatious litigant and requiring him to furnish security. See, e.g., Restrepo v. Alliance Riggers & Constructors, Ltd., No. 08-15-00011-CV, 2015 WL 999950, at *1 (Tex. App.-El Paso Mar. 4, 2015, no pet.) (mem. ...

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