Most Viewed Decisions

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FIRST DISTRICT, HOUSTON

INTERNACIONAL REALTY, INC., Appellant v. 2005 RP WEST, LTD., Appellee

The trial court rendered judgment on a jury verdict, awarding the buyer $4 million in damages plus interest and fees in this suit alleging breach of a real-estate agreement. The parties dispute the meaning of a remedy provision in the agreement that the seller may "put the Property to Purchaser and sue Purchaser for the Purchase Price." The appellant argues that for the appellee to exercise the "put" remedy, the property had to be actually transferred to the appellant, and not to any third-party. The appellee contends that the contract unambiguously authorized it to "put" the property to the appellant by the act of suing it to recover the contractual purchase price. With two reasonable interpretations, the correct understanding of the "put" remedy would have been a question of fact for the jury, which was resolved in the appellee's favor when the jury determined that it exercised the contractual "put" remedy. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Houston's 1st Court of Appeals, No. 01-12-00258-CV, 10-07-2014

Practice Areas: Contracts

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT, HOUSTON

FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, Appellant v. TRINH PHAM, KATHERINE CRAWFORD & GARY BLOCK, Appellees

A mortgagor appeals the trial court's summary judgment granted in favor of occupants of residential property on the ground that the mortgagor's claims were barred by res judicata based on prior judgments for forcible detainer between the parties. Considering the limited nature of a forcible detainer action and the statutory language of the Property Code, a new and independent cause of action for forcible detainer arises each time a person refuses to surrender possession of real property after a person entitled to possession of the property delivers a proper written notice to vacate. The mortgagor presented no evidence that it gave proper notice to vacate. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, No. 14-13-00109-CV, 10-09-2014

Practice Areas: Residential and Commercial Real Estate

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT, HOUSTON

MISSION PETROLEUM CARRIERS, INC., Appellant v. DAVID KELLEY, Appellee

The appellant challenges the trial court's denial of its motion to compel arbitration. The appellee received benefits under the appellant's health and safety plan containing the arbitration agreement after he retained an attorney and filed suit; by accepting benefits under the plan, the appellee ratified the agreement, rendering any procedural unconscionability in the formation of the agreement moot. The trial court's denial is reversed and remanded. Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, No. 14-14-00072-CV, 10-09-2014

Practice Areas: Alternative Dispute Resolution , Arbitration (ADR)

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT, HOUSTON

LINDA HERNANDEZ, JOSE HERNANDEZ, JAVIER VASQUEZ, CLAUDIA GIL, RAUL VASQUEZ AND VIRGINIA VASQUEZ, Appellants v. ABRAHAM, WATKINS, NICHOLS, SORRELS & FRIEND, A TEXAS GENERAL PARTNERSHIP, RANDALL SORRELS, AND BERNARDINO AGOSTO, JR., Appellees

The appellants alleged that a firm committed malpractice and breached fiduciary duties when it settled appellants' claims arising out of the 2005 BP plant explosion for allegedly insufficient amounts of money. After the case was consolidated with the firm's declaratory action against the appellants, the trial court granted nine separate motions for partial summary judgment filed by the firm, denied the appellants' motion for partial summary judgment, and then signed a final take-nothing judgment. Inter alia, the appellanta allege that the firm breached fee agreements by deducting common expenses where the clients were not similarly situated to other clients. The agreements refer to "cases similarly situated," not to similarly situated clients. Because the fee agreements authorized the firm to deduct a portion of its common expenses from each appellant's recovery under these circumstances, the firm did not breach the fee agreements when it did so. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, No. 14-13-00567-CV, 10-21-2014

Practice Areas: Legal Profession

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT, HOUSTON

PINNACLE PREMIER PROPERTIES, INC. AND PINNACLE REALTY ADVISORS, INC., Appellants v. GHISLAIN BRETON, CATHERINE DENICOURT AND DAVID ANDREIS, Appellees

The appellants complain that the district court lacked jurisdiction to enjoin them from pursuing two eviction proceedings that were pending in justice court. The appellees purchased the properties subject to a deed of trust that contained a tenant-at-sufferance clause. Accordingly, the questions of possession and title are not intertwined, and the justice court had exclusive jurisdiction over the issue of possession. The trial court erred in granting a temporary injunction, because appellees have an adequate remedy at law through their wrongful foreclosure claim. The trial court's order is reversed and rendered. Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, No. 14-14-00194-CV, 10-09-2014

Practice Areas: Residential and Commercial Real Estate

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT, HOUSTON

KATY INTERNATIONAL, INC. F/KA/ EMER INTERNATIONAL, INC., MENGGHUI ZHANG AND BINGHUA JIANG, Appellants v. JINCHUN JIANG, Appellee

The appellee, a former shareholder in a Texas corporation, filed suit against the appellants, also shareholders, and the corporation. This dispute centers around agreements made when the appellee decided to leave the company. A shareholder may expressly agree to be personally liable for corporate obligations. Because there is no evidence the appellants agreed to be personally liable with regard to a debt, the evidence is legally insufficient to support the finding of liability. The trial court's error, if any, in admitting a Yahoo Finance document was harmless because unobjected-to evidence of the value of the stock was otherwise introduced at trial and the exhibit reflected accurate, publicly available information regarding the market value of the stock during the relevant timeframe. The trial courts judgment is reversed and rendered in part, and affirmed in part. Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, No. 14-13-00615-CV, 10-21-2014

Practice Areas: Contracts

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FIRST DISTRICT, HOUSTON

IN RE NOBLE DRILLING (JIM THOMPSON), LLC, Relator

The trial court imposed sanctions following the relator's 15-month delay producing photographs of an accident scene taken the day the plaintiff was injured on a drilling rig. The relator argues that the trial court abused its discretion in striking two affirmative defenses and awarding over $50,000 in additional monetary sanctions. The trial court's sanction order was improper. Because the sanctions foreclose the relator's affirmative defenses, thus preventing the relator from presenting relevant evidence in support of corresponding jury questions, the sanctions function as death penalty sanctions. Death penalty sanctions are no longer warranted, given that the time-of-incident photos have been produced. The death penalty sanction here was unnecessary, because the order contains a lesser sanction that would promote compliance with discovery: the exclusion of exemplar photographs reconstructing the incident scene. Monetary sanctions are generally not subject to mandamus because they can be properly reviewed on appeal. The trial court is directed to vacate the order striking the defenses. The remainder of the mandamus petition is denied. Houston's 1st Court of Appeals, No. 01-14-00256-CV, 10-16-2014

Practice Areas: Appellate Law - Civil

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FIRST DISTRICT, HOUSTON

LAJUAN CECILE BAILEY, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

The appellant contends that she did not consent to the waiver of privilege in connection with her trial counsel's cross-examination of her former lawyer The trial judge expressly found that such a waiver in fact had occurred. Without the benefit of an evidentiary hearing on the allegations, the record is not sufficiently developed to support a conclusion that the trial judge's determination was in error. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Houston's 1st Court of Appeals, No. 01-12-00200-CR, 10-07-2014

Practice Areas: Criminal Law

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FIFTH DISTRICT, DALLAS

JERRY KILLINGSWORTH, Appellant v. THE HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF DALLAS, Appellee

The appellant appeals the summary judgment on his claims alleging breach of an employment contract and alleging violations of his civil rights. The appellant argues that the terms of a letter agreement with the Dallas Housing Authority were approved by the board of commissioners before the agreement was signed and presented to the appellant. The last sentence of the agreement states that its terms are nonbinding unless it is signed by the DHA board chairman and approved by the DHA board -- this sentence would be rendered meaningless by the appellant's interpretation. Because he cannot show that he had a property interest in employment with the DHA, his 42 USC §1983 claims also fail as a matter of law. The appellant's subjective belief of discrimination, no matter how genuine, is not enough to controvert the DHA's evidence of a nondiscriminatory reason or raise a fact issue on the DHA's discriminatory motive. The trial court's judgment is affirmed. Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-12-00524-CV, 10-14-2014

Practice Areas: Labor and Employment

COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FIFTH DISTRICT, DALLAS

ROBERT H. HOLMES, SR., Appellant v. GRAHAM MORTGAGE CORPORATION, Appellee

The appellee sued the appellant as guarantor on a note, alleging a deficiency owed under the note in the amount of $912,077, with interest continuing to accrue. The guaranty waives "any defense to liability" and specifically includes a waiver of statutory defenses. The appellant waived his offset defense under Texas Property Code §51.003. The appellant argues that the parties made a mutual mistake as to the availability of the offset defense. This mistake involved a state of the law and does not support recission. The trial court's order is affirmed. Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-13-01047-CV, 10-21-2014

Practice Areas: Contracts