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Rubio v. Harris County

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

October 31, 2019

SILVA RUBIO, Appellant
v.
HARRIS COUNTY, HARRIS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, PORT OF HOUSTON AUTHORITY OF ARRIS COUNTY, HARRIS COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT, HARRIS COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT, ITY OF HOUSTON, HOUSTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, HOUSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM, AND ALDINE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Appellees

          On Appeal from the 157th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2013-27216

          Panel Consists of Justices Christopher, Spain, and Poissant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         Appellees filed a motion to dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction, contending the notice of appeal was untimely. Appellant responded to the motion, including a request for attorneys' fees in his response, and filed an amended notice of appeal. Appellees filed a motion and a supplemental motion strike the amended notice of appeal. We grant the motion to dismiss, deny the motions to strike, deny appellant's request for attorneys' fees, and dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

         Background

         Appellees are various governmental units ("the Taxing Units") that sued Derrick Mendoza (not a party on appeal) for delinquent ad valorem taxes on a parcel of real property. See Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 33.41. In 2013, the trial court signed a final judgment in favor of the Taxing Units, a provision of which foreclosed the property at issue and ordered it sold. The property was sold at a constable's sale in April 2015, and the excess proceeds from the sale were deposited into the court's registry. As permitted by the Tax Code, portions of the excess proceeds were distributed to the Taxing Units in late 2015 to account for taxes that accrued between the date of the judgment and the date of the sale. See id. § 34.04 (governing claims for excess proceeds from court-ordered sales). The Taxing Units filed motions in late 2018 for the remaining excess proceeds to be distributed pro rata to them.[1]

         In January 2019, while the Taxing Units' motions were pending, appellant Silva Rubio[2] intervened in the suit, alleging she, not Mendoza, owned the property in question at the time of its sale. She objected to the Taxing Units' motions for distribution of the remaining excess proceeds and asked the court to order the Taxing Units to pay her the total amount received from the sale of the property.

         A master in chancery heard the Taxing Units' motions. See id. § 33.71(a) (permitting trial court to appoint master in chancery in delinquent tax suits). The master in chancery signed a report on March 22, 2019 recommending the Taxing Units' motions be granted. Rubio timely appealed that recommendation to the trial court. See id. § 33.74(a) (permitting appeal of master's report to trial court within 10 days after master gives notice of report).

         On May 10, 2019, the trial court signed an order granting the motions ("the Excess Proceeds Order").[3] Rubio filed a notice of appeal from that order on July 10, 2019. Also on July 10, the trial court signed an order ("the Order Denying Reconsideration") that states in its entirety:

The Court considered Silvia [sic] Rubio's Appeal of the March 22, 2019 Recommendation of the Master and Motion for Reconsideration of the May 10, 2019 Order to Disburse Excess Proceeds. After considering the Appeal, the Motion, the record of this case, and the Responses of the other parties, the Court is of the opinion that:
1. The Master's Recommendation dated March 22, 2019 on Intervenors' [sic][4] Petition to Withdraw Remaining Excess Proceeds is affirmed; and
2. The Motion for Reconsideration is denied.

         On July 25, 2019, Rubio filed an amended notice of appeal from both the Excess Proceeds Order and ...


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