Can You Appeal a Small Claims Court Judgment In Texas ?
An appeal from a small claims court judgment is to a county court in a de novo proceeding. See TEX. GOV'T CODE ANN. 28.053(b) (Vernon 1988).
"Judgment of the county court or county court at law on the appeal is final." Id. at 28.053(d).
Before 1998, the law was uniform that a judgment from a county court in a de novo appeal from the small claims court could be appealed to the court of appeals. See Gaskill v. Sneaky Enter., Inc., 997 S.W.2d 296, 297 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1999, pet. denied) (citing Galil Moving & Storage, Inc. v. McGregor, 928 S.W.2d 172, 173 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1996, no writ); 31 JEREMY C. WICKER, TEXAS PRACTICE: CIVIL TRIAL & APPELLATE PROCEDURE 401 (1985)).
But in 1998, the First Court of Appeals held that there is no appeal to the court of appeals from a judgment of the county court after a trial de novo appeal from the small claims court. See Davis v. Covert, 983 S.W.2d 301, 302 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1998, pet. dism'd w.o.j.) (en banc).
The court reasoned that "final" means there is no further appeal. See id.
Although the court recognized that section 51.012 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code gives a court of appeals jurisdiction over cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds $ 100, the court held that the specific provisions of section 28.053 control over this more general statute. See id. at 303.
"In a civil case in which the judgment or amount in controversy exceeds $ 100, exclusive of interest and costs, a person may take an appeal or writ of error to the court of appeals from a final judgment of the district or county court." TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. 51.012 (Vernon 1997).
The approach taken by the First Court of Appeals has been followed by the Second and Tenth Courts of Appeals. See Lederman v. Rowe, 3 S.W.3d 254, 255 (Tex. App.-Waco 1999, no pet.); Gaskill, 997 S.W.2d at 297.