Siddiqui v. Unlimited Asset Recovery, Inc. (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Nov. 19,
2009)(Sharp)(credit card debt suit, amount in controversy jurisdictional limit of justice court, transfer
from JP court to county court, notice of appeal not timely, interlocutory appeal not authorized)
DISMISS APPEAL: Opinion by
Justice Jim Sharp     
Before Justices Jennings, Higley and Sharp   
01-09-00026-CV  Iram Siddiqui v. Unlimited Asset Recovery, Inc.   
Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No 4 of Harris County
Trial Court Judge:
Hon. Roberta A. Lloyd

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Appellant, Iram Siddiqui, brings an interlocutory appeal, complaining of the county court’s denial of
her motion to dismiss the underlying cause.  We determine whether this Court has jurisdiction to
hear this interlocutory appeal. We dismiss this appeal for want of jurisdiction.

BACKGROUND

Appellee, United Asset Recovery (“UAR”), sued Ms. Siddiqui in Harris County Justice Court, Precinct
5, Place 2, to recover $6,327.96 in unpaid credit card debt and attorney fees of $1,898.36.  In her
pro se answer, Ms. Siddiqui requested a transfer of venue to a different precinct, stating that the
court’s location was too far from her house.  Ms. Siddiqui also apparently advanced arguments to
dismiss the case in the justice court, although no motion in the justice court to that effect appears in
the appellate record.  UAR asserted, in a “Response to [Ms. Siddiqui’s] Motion to Dismiss” filed in
the justice court, that the judgment sought was within the justice court’s jurisdictional limits because
it consisted of “a principal balance of $4,014.20, with prejudgment interest of $2,313.76, court
costs, service fees, and attorney’s fees.”  UAR alternatively prayed that, if the justice court found
that the claim was not within its jurisdictional limits, the case be transferred to county court.  

Although the justice court found that the amount sought was within its jurisdictional limits, the case
was subsequently transferred to Harris County Civil County Court at Law Number Four.  Ms.
Siddiqui then filed a motion seeking to dismiss the case in the county court, asserting that the
justice court never had jurisdiction and thus the case “was void” when transferred to county court.  
The basis of Ms. Siddiqui’s argument was that the amount in controversy pleaded exceeded the
justice court’s jurisdictional limits and, therefore, the justice court never had jurisdiction over the
dispute and the county court to which the case had been transferred likewise had no jurisdiction.[1]  
The county court denied the motion to dismiss on April 17, 2008.    

On January 6, 2009, Ms. Siddiqui filed a notice of appeal complaining of the county court’s April 17,
2008 order. In this interlocutory appeal, Ms. Siddiqui prays that this Court dismiss UAR’s case in
county court for lack of jurisdiction.[2]

JURISDICTION

Because appellant appeals from an interlocutory order, her notice of appeal was due on May 7,
2008.  See Tex. R. App. P. 26.1(b), 28.1(a), (b) (providing that notice of appeal is due 20 days after
signing of interlocutory order being appealed); Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 205
(Tex. 2001) (holding that order or judgment is interlocutory unless it actually disposes of every
pending claim and party or unless it clearly and unequivocally states that it finally disposes of all
claims and parties).  Appellant filed her notice of appeal on January 6, 2009—almost eight months
after the due date—stating therein that “[t]his is timely in that the lack of jurisdiction can be
appealed at any time.” This pronouncement is a misstatement of the law.

While true that a lack of jurisdiction is fundamental error that does not need to be preserved and
may be raised for the first time on appeal, see Denton County v. Huther, 43 S.W.3d 665, 667 n.2
(Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2001, no pet.), this does not mean that a person may appeal the trial court’
s lack of subject matter jurisdiction “at any time.”  Appellant confuses the time for lodging one’s
complaint regarding want of jurisdiction with the timeline for filing an appeal.  Her reading would
change the deadline to appeal a jurisdictional defect to “at any time she feels like it.”  One seeking
to appeal a particular ruling of a trial court must file her notice of appeal within the applicable time
period prescribed by the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure in order for the appellate court to be
vested with jurisdiction to review the complained-of ruling.  See Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(b).  Without a
timely filed notice of appeal, an appellate court has no jurisdiction to consider any complaint, even a
complaint that the trial court had no subject matter jurisdiction over the case.  Id.; see also Huther,
43 S.W.3d at 667 n.2 (noting that appellate court has no jurisdiction to address any issue, even
contention of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, in absence of timely notice of appeal).  In the
present case, because appellant’s notice of appeal to this Court was untimely, we have not been
vested with jurisdiction over her appeal.  See Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(b); Wilkins v. Methodist Health
Care Sys., 160 S.W.3d 559, 564 (Tex. 2005) (holding that, because notice of appeal was untimely,
court of appeals lacked jurisdiction over appeal; dismissing appeal for want of jurisdiction).

Furthermore, we note that, because appellant seeks to appeal an interlocutory order, we have no
jurisdiction to consider her appeal unless the order is one for which interlocutory appeal is
permitted under the statutory provisions of section 51.014 of the Texas Civil Practices and
Remedies Code.  See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a)(Vernon 2008) (listing
interlocutory orders from which interlocutory appeal may be taken); Jack B. Anglin Co., Inc. v. Tipps,
842 S.W.2d 266, 272 (Tex. 1992) (holding that Texas appellate courts only have appellate
jurisdiction over appeals from final orders or judgments, unless statute permits appeal from
interlocutory order).

The interlocutory order of which appellant complains is not one for which an interlocutory appeal is
permitted.  See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a).  Appellant cites no statutory basis
for our jurisdiction to consider her interlocutory appeal.  Appellant does contend that jurisdictional
issues can be raised at any time, including on appeal.  As noted previously, that tenet of law relates
to the preservation of the issue for appellate review, not the jurisdiction of a reviewing court to
consider an appeal.  Huther, 43 S.W.3d at 667 n.2.  Regardless of the claim being made on appeal,
an appellate court only has jurisdiction to consider interlocutory appeals when specifically provided
for by statutory authority.  See Young v. Villegas, 231 S.W.3d 1, 4, 6 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th
Dist.] 2007, pet. denied) (rejecting argument that appellate court had jurisdiction because “lack of
subject matter jurisdiction could be raised at any time” and holding that appellate court had no
jurisdiction to entertain interlocutory appeal absent statutory authority, even when contention on
appeal was that trial court lacked jurisdiction).  In the present case, the interlocutory order sought to
be appealed is not one for which an interlocutory appeal is authorized.[3]  See Tex. Civ. Prac. &
Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a).  Accordingly, even if appellant had filed a timely notice of appeal, we
would be required to dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.  Young, 231 S.W.3d at 6.

CONCLUSION

We dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

                                                     
Jim Sharp

                                                     Justice

Panel consists of Justices Jennings, Higley, and Sharp.

[1]           At the time that the action was commenced, the maximum jurisdictional limit of justice courts was $5,000,
exclusive of interest, and inclusive of attorneys’ fees. Act of May 19, 1991, 72nd Leg., R.S., ch. 776, 1991 Tex. Gen.
Laws 2767, 2767 (amended 2007) (current version at Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 27.031(a)(1) (Vernon Supp. 2009)).   

[2]           According to UAR’s brief, a final ruling was issued by the county court in the underlying cause on February
26, 2009.  The clerk’s record before this Court does not contain any final judgment and appellant’s notice of appeal
does not seek to appeal any final judgment, but only the April 17, 2008 interlocutory order.

[3]           Although a motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction may be construed as a plea to the jurisdiction, see
Klein v. Hernandez, 260 S.W.3d 1, 4, 8 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2008, pet. granted on other grounds)
(construing
motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction as plea to jurisdiction), only a governmental unit may bring an
interlocutory appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction. See
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a)
(8) (Vernon 2008); Young v. Villegas, 231 S.W.3d 1, 6–7 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, pet. denied).