Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
DWAIN A. BOEHL, Appellant,
LISA RICHARDSON, Appellee.
appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 of Victoria County,
Justices Benavides, Longoria, and Perkes
L. LONGORIA Justice
Dwain A. Boehl (Dwain) appeals the trial court's judgment
entering a forcible detainer in favor of appellee Lisa
Richardson, who is a distant cousin to Dwain's father
Leroy. By four issues, which we combine into three, Dwain
argues that: (1) the trial court lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction over the forcible detainer action; (2) the trial
court erroneously awarded attorney's fees; and (3) the
findings of fact and conclusions of law are not supported by
the evidence. We vacate the judgment and dismiss for want of
appeal concerns the right to possession of certain real
property in Victoria, Texas (the Property). Leroy and
Margaret Boehl created a living trust in 1996. The Property
and the house on the Property were conveyed to the trust by
special warranty deed in August 1997. Margaret died in June
2009. Leroy moved to a retirement center in Houston, Texas;
he died in June 2018.
26, 2018, Leroy's daughter Susan Donnell, filed an
application to probate Leroy's Last Will and Testament,
originally executed in 2016. This 2016 will named Donnell as
the independent executor and successor trustee. The 2016 will
directed that all personal household effects were to be
transferred to the trust, while the rest of the estate was to
be given to Donnell, as the trustee, to divide the property
in accordance with the trust. During this time, Dwain lived
on the Property. On September 13, 2018, Richardson filed an
opposition to the probate of the 2016 will. Richardson
alleged that on May 22, 2018, when executing his fifth
amendment to the trust, Leroy also executed a new will, which
replaced Richardson as trustee in place of Donnell.
Leroy resided in Houston at the time of his death, a court in
Harris County assumed jurisdiction over the will contest and
the trust amendment contest, in case number 472228.
Richardson filed an eviction suit in a justice court in
Victoria County, claiming that Dwain had no right to possess
the Property. During the proceedings, Dwain testified that he
currently resided at the Property and had done so since 2005.
He stated that he was aware that his parents had placed the
Property in their living trust. Dwain also admitted that
Leroy had told him to leave the Property shortly before Leroy
died. However, Dwain also claims that his father told him
that he could move back in at some point and that Dwain was
never required to pay rent while he lived at the Property.
After Leroy died, Richardson sent Dwain a three-day eviction
notice; however, Dwain remained on the Property. He testified
that based on the 2016 will, he had no reason to believe that
he could no longer reside at the Property. The court admitted
Dwain's expert evidence, which indicated that in the
handwriting expert's opinions, Leroy did not sign the
second will. The justice court determined that Richardson was
entitled to immediate possession of the property. Dwain
appealed to the county court.
county court also found that Richardson was entitled to
immediate possession of the Property and awarded her $3,
874.75 in attorney's fees and costs. Dwain filed a motion
for new trial and a request for findings of fact and
conclusions of law. The county court entered the findings of
fact and conclusions of law but denied the motion for new
trial. This appeal ensued.
issues one and two, which we address together, Dwain asserts
that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the forcible
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
review de novo whether a trial court has subject-matter
jurisdiction to hear a case. See Tex. Dep't of Parks
& Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 228 (Tex.
2004). The issue of subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised
for the first time on appeal. See id. To determine
whether the plaintiff has affirmatively demonstrated the
court's jurisdiction to hear the case, we consider the
facts alleged by the plaintiff and, "to the extent it is
relevant to the jurisdictional issue, the evidence submitted
by the parties." Tex. Nat. Res. Conservation
Comm'n v. White, 46 S.W.3d 864, 868 (Tex. 2001). If
a plaintiff pleads facts that affirmatively ...