Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Wise County, Texas; Commissioners Court of Wise County, Texas; and Danny White, County Commissioner, Precinct One, Wise County, Texas, Appellants
Katherine Mastropiero, Appellee
Appeal from the 271st District Court Wise County, Texas Trial
Court No. CV18-06-475
Birdwell, Bassel, and Womack, JJ.
2018, appellee Katherine Mastropiero sued appellants Wise
County, the Commissioners Court of Wise County, and
Commissioner Danny White, seeking to compel them to maintain
certain roads in her subdivision. Appellants filed a plea to
the jurisdiction, which was denied. Appellants have appealed
appeal presents the question of whether the trial court may
exercise jurisdiction under article V of the Texas
constitution, which provides district courts with
"appellate jurisdiction and general supervisory
control" over a commissioners court that has failed to
perform a clear duty or otherwise abused its discretion. Tex.
Const. art. V, § 8. We conclude that Mastropiero's
petition and evidence-which concern appellants' alleged
dereliction of their duty to maintain public roads-establish
the trial court's jurisdiction under article V. We
live petition alleged that in March of 2000, Prairie View
Enterprises ("the developer") began to develop
Prairie View Estates, a subdivision in Wise County. Her
action concerns Phase Two of the subdivision, the only
portion with roads that the county has refused to maintain.
The developer presented its "Phase Two Final Plat"
for the subdivision to the county commissioners court. The
plat described several roads and stated that the roads were
"dedicate[d] to the public." Mastropiero alleged
that the owners, residents, and members of the public have
used the roads continuously ever since.
to her petition, the county sent an engineer to conduct a
final inspection of the roads in August 2000. The engineer
then sent a letter of compliance to the commissioners court,
certifying that the developer had completed all
"infrastructure improvements"-including the
roads-according to county specifications.
alleged that on August 28, 2000, the commissioners court held
a meeting at which it approved the final plat for Phase Two.
The minutes of the meeting stated the commissioners court had
unanimously adopted a motion "to accept final
construction of Prairie View Estates Phase Two . . . based on
the letter of compliance" issued by the engineer. The
final plat was then endorsed and filed in the county's
records; Mastropiero submitted a copy of the county's
rules which showed that filing the plat was the step after
the county "accepts improvements." Mastropiero
reasoned that Phase Two and its dedicated public roads were
therefore finally accepted as county roads, requiring the
county to repair and maintain the roads. But Mastropiero
alleged that the county has not subsequently maintained the
alleged that consistent with that acceptance of the roads, no
further action of the developer was required, and none was
demanded by the commissioners court. Mastropiero claimed that
the county therefore waived any other requirements, such as
the county rule that required the developer to submit a
maintenance bond to underwrite the cost of repairs for the
first two years after the roads were accepted. It was
undisputed that the developer did not submit a maintenance
bond complying with this rule.
suit, Mastropiero argued that appellants neglected their duty
to maintain the roads and that Commissioner White in
particular, as the supervisor of roads in her precinct, had
neglected his duty to supervise and report on the roads. She
sought declaratory relief in multiple forms, including
declarations that the roads were entitled to county
maintenance and that the maintenance bond requirement was
invalid or waived, among others.
filed a plea to the jurisdiction. After a hearing, the trial
court denied appellants' plea and entered findings of
fact and conclusions of law. Appellants filed this
accelerated interlocutory appeal. See Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a)(8).
their first issue, appellants argue that the declaratory
judgments act does not provide the trial court with
jurisdiction over Mastropiero's claims. In their second
issue, appellants contend that Mastropiero cannot avail
herself of jurisdiction under article V, section 8 of the
Texas constitution, which provides that the district court
has supervisory jurisdiction to review certain actions of the
county commissioners court. Appellants assert that with the
only two potential sources of jurisdiction eliminated, the
trial court erred by denying their plea to the jurisdiction.
Standard of Review
of whether jurisdiction exists begins with the
plaintiff's live pleadings. See Tex. Dep't of
Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 226
(Tex. 2004). The plaintiff has the initial burden of alleging
facts that affirmatively demonstrate the trial court's
jurisdiction to hear the cause. Id. We construe the
pleadings liberally, taking them as true, and look to the
pleader's intent. Id.
may present evidence to negate the existence of a
jurisdictional fact alleged in the pleadings. Id. at
227. The trial court's review of the evidence generally
mirrors the summary judgment standard. Tarrant Reg'l
Water Dist. v. Johnson, 572 S.W.3d 658, 664 (Tex. 2019).
If the evidence creates a fact question regarding the
jurisdictional issue, then the trial court cannot grant the
plea to the jurisdiction, and the fact issue will be resolved
by the factfinder. Id. However, if the relevant
evidence is undisputed or fails to raise a fact question on
the jurisdictional issue, the trial court rules on the plea
to the jurisdiction as a matter of law. Id. This is
a question of law that we review de novo.
Jurisdiction as to the ...