When is appealing a justice court judgment to county court not so appealing? When it causes damages to more than triple the $10,000 jurisdictional maximum “due to the passage of time.”

Edwards Sims paid A-1 $5,000 for an engine he claimed was faulty, and A-1 refused to provide a refund. Sims filed a petition in justice court seeking total damages of about $7000, within the $10,000 jurisdictional limit. After A-1 failed to appear for trial, the justice court entered a judgment for $7155.

A-1 then appealed the judgment to county court. Sims amended his petition to seek additional damages, including rental fees incurred due to the passage of time, and attorney’s fees in county court. After A-1 failed to respond to requests for admission, which were deemed admitted, county court entered a judgment for $35,730, including $21,206 in damages, including additional damages “due to the passage of time,” and $14,384 in attorney’s fees.

On appeal, A-1 claimed that the county court’s judgment exceeded the jurisdiction maximum of $10,000 for small claims cases. The court of appeals recognized that when a case is originally filed in justice court and is appealed to the county court, the county court’s appellate jurisdiction is also restricted to the $10,000 maximum. But the court held that additional damages accrued “due to the passage of time” do not deprive the court of jurisdiction. The damages incurred after the justice court judgment and the attorney’s fees incurred in county court were due to the passage of time. Thus, the Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed a $35,730 judgment on a claim that when filed was subject to a $10,000 jurisdictional maximum.

A-1 Parts Stop, Inc. v Sims

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