MICHAEL BYNANE v. DAVID GUZMAN

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Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (1st Dist.).

MICHAEL BYNANE, Appellant v. DAVID GUZMAN, Appellee

NO. 01-16-00356-CV

Decided: March 23, 2017

Panel consists of Justices Jennings, Higley, and Massengale.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Michael Bynane appealed to the county civil court at law the justice of the peace's judgment in an eviction suit in favor of David Guzman. The county civil court at law rendered a judgment of eviction. In two issues on appeal, Bynane argues (1) Guzman lacked standing to sue him and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by admitting documents that had not been authenticated.

We vacate and dismiss.

Background

At a foreclosure auction on March 3, 2015, Guzman purchased property possessed by Bynane. Three weeks later, on March 24, 2015, Guzman transferred his interest in the property to Preston Julian.

On January 22, 2016, Guzman filed an eviction suit against Bynane in a justice of the peace court. The justice of the peace granted a judgment of eviction. Bynane appealed to the county civil court at law. During the trial, the trial court admitted into evidence the special warranty deed transferring Guzman's interest in the property to Julian. The trial court granted a judgment of eviction.

Standard of Review

In his first issue, Bynane argues Guzman lacked standing to evict him. “A party's standing to sue is implicit in the concept of subject-matter jurisdiction and is not presumed; rather, it must be proved.” Linegar v. DLA Piper LLP (US), 495 S.W.3d 276, 279 (Tex. 2016) (citing Tex. Ass'n of Bus. v. Tex. Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 445–46 (Tex. 1993)). Subject-matter jurisdiction is reviewed de novo. Tran v. Hoang, 481 S.W.3d 313, 316 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, pet. denied) (citing Tex. Dep't of Transp. v. City of Sunset Valley, 146 S.W.3d 637, 646 (Tex. 2004)).

Standing

In order for standing to exist, there must be a concrete injury to the plaintiff and a real controversy between the parties. Heckman v. Williamson Cty., 369 S.W.3d 137, 154 (Tex. 2012). The plaintiff must show “that he, himself (rather than a third party or the public at large), suffered the injury.” Id. at 155.

In an eviction suit (otherwise known as a forcible-detainer action) specifically, the plaintiff must show a superior right to possession of the property. See TEX. R. CIV. P. 510.3(e) (requiring court to adjudicate right to actual possession in eviction suits); Morris v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc., 360 S.W.3d 32, 34 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, no pet.) (“The only issue in a forcible detainer action is the right to immediate possession of real property.”).

Guzman's basis for superior right to possession over Bynane was his purchase of the property at the foreclosure auction. The evidence shows, however, that Guzman subsequently sold his interest in the property to Julian. The special warranty deed transferring the property assigned to Julian all rights and interests Guzman held in the property. Accordingly, Guzman is suffering no injury by Bynane continuing to possess the property. See Heckman, 369 S.W.3d at 154–55.

We sustain Bynane's first issue.1

Conclusion

We vacate the trial court's judgment and dismiss the case.

FOOTNOTES

1.   Because it would not result in greater relief, we do not reach Bynane's second issue concerning the admission of other evidence during the trial. See TEX. R. APP. P. 47.1.

Laura Carter Higley Justice