Texas Law


Res Judicata/Collateral Estoppel
Hutton v. Ferguson, et al. (September 1, 2011)
Issue: Does res judiciata bar the bankruptcy court or is the Court collaterally estopped from considering the dischargeability of the claims if a state district court has already determined the issue?
Holding: Because the state court did not make any specific factual findings on the dischargeability issue, the bankruptcy court is not barred under res judicata or collateral estoppel.

In re UTEX Communications Corp. (September 21, 2011)
Issue: Was the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decision entitled to res judicata/collateral estoppel effect?
Holding: The PUC decision was entitled to res judicata because the PUC’s award is a final judgment on the merits by an administrative agency of competent jurisdiction, Debtor and Creditor were both parties to the proceedings, and Debtor is attempting to raise the same claims that were raised or could have been raised in the first action. The PUC decision is entitled to collateral estoppel effect because the facts have not changed, the facts were essential to the PUC’s finding, and it is the same parties before the Court as were before the PUC.

Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 2.201
Texas Architectural Aggregate v. ACM-Texas, LLC (April 29 2010)
Issue: In its Fifth Amended Petition, TAA plead the following causes of action: (1) lack of contract/breach of contract; (2) fraud; (3) unjust enrichment; (4) accounting and damages; (5) conversion; (6) trespass; (7) tortious interference; (8) negligence; and (9) TAA asks for a declaratory judgment regarding the rights, status and legal relations under the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement. In its Second Amended Original Answer, ACM counter-claimed: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of mine mill site lease; (3) tortious interference with property rights; (4) wrongful eviction; (5) fradulent misrepresentation and inducement; (6) fraud by non-disclosure; (7) detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel; (8) trespass/misappropriation of business information; (9) theft; (10) trespass by TAA onto defendant‘s property; 11) theft of defendant‘s mineral property; 12) specific performance; 13) credit and or offset; 14) ACM asks the court to enjoin TAA from harming employees and equipment; and 15) ACM asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment establishing its mineral, surface, and leasehold rights at Marble Canyon.
Holding: The Court finds that the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement is not an enforceable contract. The Court also finds that TAA‘s fraud, accounting, tortious interference, and negligence claims should be denied. As to TAA‘s unjust enrichment cause of action, the Court finds that it should be granted. In compensation for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, the Court finds that TAA is entitled to recover damages in the amount of $7,125,073.08. Further, the Court finds that TAA‘s conversion cause of action should be granted. Nevertheless, the court also finds that TAA‘s damages in relation to ACM‘s conversion are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for conversion. Similarly, the Court finds that TAA‘s trespass cause of action should be granted, but damages in relation to ACM‘s trespass are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for trespass. As to ACM‘s counterclaims, the Court finds that its breach of contract claim as to both the Letter Agreement and Mine Mill Site Lease, tortious interference, wrongful eviction, fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, fraud by non-disclosure, trespass/misappropriation of business information, theft, trespass on defendant‘s property, and theft of defendant‘s mineral property claims should be denied. The Court also finds that ACM‘s detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel claim should be granted and that ACM is entitled to recover $75,000 from TAA as reliance damages. The Court finds that all other relief requested by the parties should be denied.

Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 26.01
Texas Architectural Aggregate v. ACM-Texas, LLC (April 29 2010)
Issue: In its Fifth Amended Petition, TAA plead the following causes of action: (1) lack of contract/breach of contract; (2) fraud; (3) unjust enrichment; (4) accounting and damages; (5) conversion; (6) trespass; (7) tortious interference; (8) negligence; and (9) TAA asks for a declaratory judgment regarding the rights, status and legal relations under the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement. In its Second Amended Original Answer, ACM counter-claimed: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of mine mill site lease; (3) tortious interference with property rights; (4) wrongful eviction; (5) fradulent misrepresentation and inducement; (6) fraud by non-disclosure; (7) detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel; (8) trespass/misappropriation of business information; (9) theft; (10) trespass by TAA onto defendant‘s property; 11) theft of defendant‘s mineral property; 12) specific performance; 13) credit and or offset; 14) ACM asks the court to enjoin TAA from harming employees and equipment; and 15) ACM asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment establishing its mineral, surface, and leasehold rights at Marble Canyon.
Holding: The Court finds that the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement is not an enforceable contract. The Court also finds that TAA‘s fraud, accounting, tortious interference, and negligence claims should be denied. As to TAA‘s unjust enrichment cause of action, the Court finds that it should be granted. In compensation for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, the Court finds that TAA is entitled to recover damages in the amount of $7,125,073.08. Further, the Court finds that TAA‘s conversion cause of action should be granted. Nevertheless, the court also finds that TAA‘s damages in relation to ACM‘s conversion are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for conversion. Similarly, the Court finds that TAA‘s trespass cause of action should be granted, but damages in relation to ACM‘s trespass are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for trespass. As to ACM‘s counterclaims, the Court finds that its breach of contract claim as to both the Letter Agreement and Mine Mill Site Lease, tortious interference, wrongful eviction, fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, fraud by non-disclosure, trespass/misappropriation of business information, theft, trespass on defendant‘s property, and theft of defendant‘s mineral property claims should be denied. The Court also finds that ACM‘s detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel claim should be granted and that ACM is entitled to recover $75,000 from TAA as reliance damages. The Court finds that all other relief requested by the parties should be denied.

Tex. Bus. Org. Code § 21.223(a)
Walser v. TMG (January 25, 2011)
Issues: (1) Is Walser’s Recording Agreement with Debtor’s predecessor-in-interest an executory contract? If so, does it allow Plaintiffs to pursue causes of action against the predecessor’s bankruptcy plan? (2) Did Debtors breach recording contracts with Walser, entitling Plaintiffs to damages? Is rescission a viable remedy? (3) Did Defendants breach a fiduciary duty with Walser? (4) Should the corporate veil be pierced with respect to Defendants, and Defendants be held liable for Plaintiff’s claims against Debtors?
Holding: (1) The Court holds that the Walser contract was an executory contract that Debtors assumed after the predecessor’s bankruptcy and that Walser is prohibited from filing causes of action that relate to the predecessor’s bankruptcy. (2) Defendants are not required to surrender master recordings for breach of contract, and there is not sufficient evidence to establish fraud. The Court finds that the Defendants did breach the contract and that the Defendants failed to properly cure during the period provided for cure. Therefore, contract damages should be awarded to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ rescission claims are barred by both Federal Copyright law and Texas state law. (3) Defendants did not breach a fiduciary duty because Debtors did not owe Walsen a fiduciary duty. (4) The Court finds that Plaintiffs’ contentions to pierce the corporate veil also fail because their claims fail to satisfy the requirements of Tex. Bus. Org. Code § 21.223.

Tex. Const. art. 16, § 50
In re Reives (July 17, 2012)
Issue: Can a debtor avoid a properly attached lien against his homestead granted to his ex-spouse in a divorce decree?
Holding: Since the Debtor had a pre-existing interest in 10 of the 13.1 acres encumbered by the lien, that portion of the lien can be avoided under § 522(f). The remaining 3.1 acres of property, however, was awarded to Debtor in the divorce decree which also granted the lien against the property. Since Debtor never possessed interest in the 3.1 acres before the lien fixed, that portion of the lien cannot be avoided under § 522(f).

Erickson v. Wells Fargo (July 22, 2011)
Issue: May Defendant recover post-petition attorney’s fees as a personal judgment against Debtor even though Article XVI, section 50(a)(6)(C) of the Texas Constitution prohibits recourse to personal liability on a home equity loan?
Holding: The Court finds that the Texas Constitution bars the Defendant from recovering attorneys’ fees from the Plaintiff as a personal judgment absent a finding of actual fraud. The Court refuses to issue a supplemental finding of fraud because such a finding is not supported by Texas case law or by sufficient evidence. Defendant’s Post-Trial Motion for Award of Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

Erickson v. Wells Fargo (May 20, 2011)
Issue: Did liens violate Article XVI, Section 50(a)(6) and Section 50(e) of the Texas Constitution? Also, was note used to pay off these lien notes invalid?
Holding: The Court declines to find that the liens are invalid. Plaintiff is estopped from claiming that the liens violated the Texas Constitution because Plaintiff signed sworn affidavits that are contrary to his current claims about the status of his homestead. Because the Court finds that these liens are valid, Plaintiff’s claim that Wells Fargo’s note is invalid because it was used to pay off these lien notes does not have merit. Plaintiff is also estopped from claiming that he did not receive a copy of all documents signed by him related to the extension of credit as required by the Texas Constitution because he signed an affidavit that indicated otherwise.

Erickson v. Wells Fargo as Trustee for Secured Assets (Sept. 20, 2010)
Issue: Should the Court declare a loan and deed of trust void and enforceable, and grant the Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment?
Holding: The Court declines to grant summary judgment because (1) the Plaintiff’s new claims are untimely and (2) the right to judicial foreclosure is a matter of law, not subject to authorization by a deed of trust.

In re Arredondo-Smith (July 22, 2010)
Issue: Whether the Debtor, who, under the choice-of-law provision of section 522(b)(3)(A) and Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 704.710-730, may use California homestead exemption law extraterritorially to property located in Austin, Texas?
Holding: California exemption law may apply extraterritorially to property located in the State of Texas, but because Debtor had declared “homestead” in California she may not now abandon such, and claim a homestead different than the family homestead that she and her former spouse previously established.

Langehennig v. Ameriquest Mortgage Company (In re Ortegon)
Issue: Did Defendant violate Texas Constitution, Article XVI, § 50(a)(6)(Q)(iii) when at the closing of the loan with Defendant, one of the required documents, an Affidavit of Acknowledgment as to Fair Market Value of Homestead Property, contained two blanks that were not filled in with information, one blank being for the date of the extension of credit and the second blank being for the value of the homestead at the time of the extension of credit?
Holding: The applicable four-year period for limitations found in Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code § 16.051 bars all claims made in Plaintiffs’ Original Complaint that a violation of Texas Constitution Art. 16, Sec. 50(a)(6)(Q)(iii) occurred when Plaintiff signed the Affidavit of Acknowledgment as to Fair Market Value of Homestead Property which contained two blanks left to be completed.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.004, Four-Year Limitations Period
In re Bootka (February 25, 2009)
Issue: Under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.004(c), is collection on the claim barred by the statute of limitations?
Holding: There is no evidence here that either of the Debtors acknowledged the justness of the debt in writing or indeed signed anything in connection with the payment. The Court therefore finds and concludes that Claimant has failed to meet its burden of proving its Claim is not barred by the statute of limitations.

Douglas v. Langehennig (Jul. 28, 2008)
Issue: The Plaintiff alleges three causes of action: (1) for a judgment declaring that at least a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the Home is her separate property; (2) for the imposition of a constructive trust on at least a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the Home; and (3) for a judgment declaring that she had a homestead interest in the Home and is therefore entitled to proceeds of its sale to the extent of the value of that interest.
Holding: The Court finds that the Trustee’s Motion to Dismiss should be denied with respect to the Plaintiff’s claims to declare all or a portion of the Home’s proceeds as her separate property and to impose a constructive trust on those proceeds. With respect to the Plaintiff’s claim based on her assertion of a state law homestead interest in the Home, the Court finds that the Motion to Dismiss should be granted, and this claim should be dismissed.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.051, Residual Limitations Period
Langehennig v. Ameriquest Mortgage Company (In re Ortegon)
Issue: Did Defendant violate Texas Constitution, Article XVI, § 50(a)(6)(Q)(iii) when at the closing of the loan with Defendant, one of the required documents, an Affidavit of Acknowledgment as to Fair Market Value of Homestead Property, contained two blanks that were not filled in with information, one blank being for the date of the extension of credit and the second blank being for the value of the homestead at the time of the extension of credit?
Holding: The applicable four-year period for limitations found in Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code § 16.051 bars all claims made in Plaintiffs’ Original Complaint that a violation of Texas Constitution Art. 16, Sec. 50(a)(6)(Q)(iii) occurred when Plaintiff signed the Affidavit of Acknowledgment as to Fair Market Value of Homestead Property which contained two blanks left to be completed.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.065, Acknowledgment of Claim
In re Bootka (February 25, 2009)
Issue: Under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.004(c), is collection on the claim barred by the statute of limitations?
Holding: There is no evidence here that either of the Debtors acknowledged the justness of the debt in writing or indeed signed anything in connection with the payment. The Court therefore finds and concludes that Claimant has failed to meet its burden of proving its Claim is not barred by the statute of limitations.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 38.001, Recovery of Attorney's Fees
Erickson v. Wells Fargo (July 22, 2011)
Issue: May Defendant recover post-petition attorney’s fees as a personal judgment against Debtor even though Article XVI, section 50(a)(6)(C) of the Texas Constitution prohibits recourse to personal liability on a home equity loan?
Holding: The Court finds that the Texas Constitution bars the Defendant from recovering attorneys’ fees from the Plaintiff as a personal judgment absent a finding of actual fraud. The Court refuses to issue a supplemental finding of fraud because such a finding is not supported by Texas case law or by sufficient evidence. Defendant’s Post-Trial Motion for Award of Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 134
Texas Architectural Aggregate v. ACM-Texas, LLC (April 29 2010)
Issue: In its Fifth Amended Petition, TAA plead the following causes of action: (1) lack of contract/breach of contract; (2) fraud; (3) unjust enrichment; (4) accounting and damages; (5) conversion; (6) trespass; (7) tortious interference; (8) negligence; and (9) TAA asks for a declaratory judgment regarding the rights, status and legal relations under the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement. In its Second Amended Original Answer, ACM counter-claimed: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of mine mill site lease; (3) tortious interference with property rights; (4) wrongful eviction; (5) fradulent misrepresentation and inducement; (6) fraud by non-disclosure; (7) detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel; (8) trespass/misappropriation of business information; (9) theft; (10) trespass by TAA onto defendant‘s property; 11) theft of defendant‘s mineral property; 12) specific performance; 13) credit and or offset; 14) ACM asks the court to enjoin TAA from harming employees and equipment; and 15) ACM asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment establishing its mineral, surface, and leasehold rights at Marble Canyon.
Holding: The Court finds that the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement is not an enforceable contract. The Court also finds that TAA‘s fraud, accounting, tortious interference, and negligence claims should be denied. As to TAA‘s unjust enrichment cause of action, the Court finds that it should be granted. In compensation for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, the Court finds that TAA is entitled to recover damages in the amount of $7,125,073.08. Further, the Court finds that TAA‘s conversion cause of action should be granted. Nevertheless, the court also finds that TAA‘s damages in relation to ACM‘s conversion are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for conversion. Similarly, the Court finds that TAA‘s trespass cause of action should be granted, but damages in relation to ACM‘s trespass are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for trespass. As to ACM‘s counterclaims, the Court finds that its breach of contract claim as to both the Letter Agreement and Mine Mill Site Lease, tortious interference, wrongful eviction, fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, fraud by non-disclosure, trespass/misappropriation of business information, theft, trespass on defendant‘s property, and theft of defendant‘s mineral property claims should be denied. The Court also finds that ACM‘s detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel claim should be granted and that ACM is entitled to recover $75,000 from TAA as reliance damages. The Court finds that all other relief requested by the parties should be denied.

Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 5.001
In re Arredondo-Smith (July 22, 2010)

Issue: Whether the Debtor, who, under the choice-of-law provision of section 522(b)(3)(A) and Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 704.710-730, may use California homestead exemption law extraterritorially to property located in Austin, Texas?

Holding: California exemption law may apply extraterritorially to property located in the State of Texas, but because Debtor had declared “homestead” in California she may not now abandon such, and claim a homestead different than the family homestead that she and her former spouse previously established.

Tex. Penal Code § 7
Texas Architectural Aggregate v. ACM-Texas, LLC (April 29 2010)
Issue: In its Fifth Amended Petition, TAA plead the following causes of action: (1) lack of contract/breach of contract; (2) fraud; (3) unjust enrichment; (4) accounting and damages; (5) conversion; (6) trespass; (7) tortious interference; (8) negligence; and (9) TAA asks for a declaratory judgment regarding the rights, status and legal relations under the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement. In its Second Amended Original Answer, ACM counter-claimed: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of mine mill site lease; (3) tortious interference with property rights; (4) wrongful eviction; (5) fradulent misrepresentation and inducement; (6) fraud by non-disclosure; (7) detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel; (8) trespass/misappropriation of business information; (9) theft; (10) trespass by TAA onto defendant‘s property; 11) theft of defendant‘s mineral property; 12) specific performance; 13) credit and or offset; 14) ACM asks the court to enjoin TAA from harming employees and equipment; and 15) ACM asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment establishing its mineral, surface, and leasehold rights at Marble Canyon.
Holding: The Court finds that the April 2, 1999 Letter Agreement is not an enforceable contract. The Court also finds that TAA‘s fraud, accounting, tortious interference, and negligence claims should be denied. As to TAA‘s unjust enrichment cause of action, the Court finds that it should be granted. In compensation for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, the Court finds that TAA is entitled to recover damages in the amount of $7,125,073.08. Further, the Court finds that TAA‘s conversion cause of action should be granted. Nevertheless, the court also finds that TAA‘s damages in relation to ACM‘s conversion are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for conversion. Similarly, the Court finds that TAA‘s trespass cause of action should be granted, but damages in relation to ACM‘s trespass are incorporated in the damages awarded for ACM‘s unjust enrichment, and TAA cannot recover additional damages for trespass. As to ACM‘s counterclaims, the Court finds that its breach of contract claim as to both the Letter Agreement and Mine Mill Site Lease, tortious interference, wrongful eviction, fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, fraud by non-disclosure, trespass/misappropriation of business information, theft, trespass on defendant‘s property, and theft of defendant‘s mineral property claims should be denied. The Court also finds that ACM‘s detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel claim should be granted and that ACM is entitled to recover $75,000 from TAA as reliance damages. The Court finds that all other relief requested by the parties should be denied.

Tex. Prop. Code § 5.077
Dodson v. Perkins (In re Dodson)
Issue: Which version of a provision of the Texas Property code applies to a real estate transaction that was executed in 1997 and 1999, and said property was conveyed in 2003?
Holding: The Court finds that the 2005 statute applies, determining that the 12-month period applies to the time surrounding the contract, not the period surrounding the statute violation.

Tex. Prop. Code § 41.001-.002
In re Schellenberg (May 7, 2010)
Issue: Should Chapter 7 Trustee’s objection to Debtor’s amended schedule C property claim as exempt be granted, when Debtors who switched from state to federal exemptions upon conversion from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, initially claimed a homestead exemption under Chapter 13, and then sought to exempt additional property after conversion to Chapter 7 that the Debtors did not exempt when they filed Chapter 13?
Holding: Chapter 7 Trustee’s Objection should be granted and the additional exemptions disallowed.

Tex. Prop. Code § 52.001
In re Save Our Springs Alliance (April 14, 2008)
Issue: Whether (1) the deadline to obtain confirmation can or should be extended; (2) designation of vote was cast in bad faith, and (3) Plan should be confirmed or denied due to: gerrymandering by improper classification, lack of an impaired accepting class, best interest of creditors test not met, feasibility, discharge is not permissible where the plan in essence does not provide for the Debtor’s continuation in “business”, cramdown is not permissible where insider claims are not subordinated to payment in full of all other claims, lack of good faith?
Holding: The Court finds that the Motion to Extend Time should be Granted in part and Denied in part, the Vote Designation Motion should be Denied, and confirmation of the Debtor’s Plan should be Denied.

Tex. Prop. Code § 111
Roberts v. McConnell (November 19, 2009)
Issue: Whether the Trust instrument gave the Debtor the right to withdraw money from the Trust at the time he filed for bankruptcy, thereby making the funds part of the bankruptcy estate?
Holding: According to the terms of the Trust, Debtor did not have the right to withdraw any money, and therefore this Court cannot force Trustee to remit any funds from the Trust. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6) should be granted.

Tex. R. Civ. P. 735
Erickson v. Wells Fargo as Trustee for Secured Assets (Sept. 20, 2010)
Issue: Should the Court declare a loan and deed of trust void and enforceable, and grant the Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment?
Holding: The Court declines to grant summary judgment because (1) the Plaintiff’s new claims are untimely and (2) the right to judicial foreclosure is a matter of law, not subject to authorization by a deed of trust.

Tex. Tax Code § 32.01
In re Conquest Airlines Corp. (Jun. 15, 2012)
Issue: Can county tax liens attach to Debtor’s personal property that is located in and subject to another county’s taxing jurisdiction?
Holding: Section 32.01 of the Texas Tax Code does not create two distinct categories of tax liens, but rather refers to the general category of “Property” in subsection (a) and a clarification as to a subset of that category in subsection (b). Subsection (b) is not meant to enable local taxing authorities to cast their tax lien on property regardless of their lack of power to tax that property due to it having situs in another taxing authority’s jurisdiction. The statutory tax liens should be considered in conjunction with the jurisdictional limits of the taxing authority.