SE Texas Record

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Court rules against tenant in defamation suit with former landlord


By Charmaine Little | Jun 24, 2019


HOUSTON -- A three-judge panel in the Texas 14th Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for an apartment complex June 20 following one of its evicted tenants’ lawsuit for defamation.  

Justice Charles A. Spain wrote the opinion as justices Tracy Christopher and Frances Bourliot concurred.

Latia M. Jones sued RGJ Apartments, also known as Victoria Park apartments, for defamation in Harris County District Court. Her legal action came after RGJ won its eviction case against her. Jones and RGJ had both asked the court for summary judgment but RGJ prevailed. Jones had challenged the judgment against her in the appeals court. 

Jones appeal alleges the lower court erred when it not only denied her motion for summary judgment but granted RGJ’s.

The appeals court pointed out that Jones failed to actually raise a specific issue that could argue why the court incorrectly sided with RGJ. It added, “However, as a practical matter, because we must affirm a trial court’s rendition of summary judgment on any basis that supports it when the trial court does not specify the ground relied on for its ruling, to be entitled to ‘a judgment against [RGJ] as a matter of law,’ Jones would also have to show that the trial court erred to base the summary judgment on every ground asserted in RGJ’s motion.” Unfortunately for Jones, she failed to fulfill that requirement.

The appeals court added that when an appellant is in the same position as Jones, it is obligated to affirm a judgment on grounds that are considered unopposed.

“Under these circumstances, ultimately, we need not consider the arguments in support of Joness issue that the trial court erred in denying her motion for summary judgment because we affirm the trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of RGJ on its collateral-estoppel defense,” the appeals court ruled.

Ultimately, it affirmed the summary judgment for RGJ.

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