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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Appeals court reverses ruling in Montgomery County property appraisal suit

Lawsuits

By Erianne Leatherman | May 14, 2019


BEAUMONT – The 9th District of Texas Court of Appeals recently reversed and remanded a trial court’s ruling in a lawsuit that alleged properties in Montgomery County were appraised unequally. 

In the May 9 opinion, Justice Charles Kreger said the Montgomery County District Court erred when it granted the Montgomery Central Appraisal District’s plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed claims property was appraised unequally for 2013 tax year.

Pamela Lindsey, Brandon and Helen Lunn, Bradley Crosby, Roy and Sue Bernheisel, Lester Goekler, Cassandra Luchak, Jeff Fisher, Monte and Tammy Eagleson, estate of Ruby Atkinson Co/C Shirley Lnott, Donald Kloesel, Moses and Jaquelyn Maestas, and Thomas and Cynthia Scott filed a lawsuit against the Montgomery Central Appraisal District (MCAD) alleging that it appraised their properties in Montgomery County unequally according to the Texas Tax Code for the tax year 2013. 

They took their complaints to the Appraisal Review Board, but were not happy with the results and filed a petition in Montgomery County District Court claiming MCAD “arbitrarily and capriciously appraised plaintiffs’ properties excessively, unequally and disproportionately as compared to other properties in the county.” 

MCAD responded and said the plaintiffs’ claims were vague and “failed to state an allowable cause of action under the tax code,” according to court filings.

The plaintiffs filed their first amended original petition that said the trail court “had jurisdiction of their claims pursuant to Chapters 23, 41, and 42 of the Code” and alleged that MCAD “arbitrarily and capriciously appraised plaintiffs’ properties unequally and disproportionately as compared to other properties in the County,” according to filings. MCAD responded, stating the trail court did not have jurisdiction over the claims about the unequal appraisals. A hearing ensued and the Montgomery County District Court sustained the plea and dismissed the claims without prejudice, according to the filing.

The plaintiffs then appealed the ruling. 

The appeals court said the “appellants exhausted their administrative remedies, and they were not required to cite to specific code provisions in their petition to invoke the jurisdiction of the trial court.” The court then reversed the lower court ruling and remanded the case back to the trial court. 

 

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