BEAUMONT – A state appeals court has reversed portions of the judgment of a lower court in a divorce case against the owner of the World Environmental and has ordered a retrial to reconsider several issues.
The appeal decision for Michael Ishee and World Environmental LLC v. Janice Ishee was rendered May 4 by the 9th District of Texas Court of Appeals at Beaumont.
Michael Ishee had appealed the decision of a jury in Montgomery County District Court, which found that he was in breach of contract and had failed to comply with the fiduciary duties he owed his former spouse under their divorce decree.
In the original trial, Janice Ishee had recovered $361,040 in actual and punitive damages. She also was awarded $25,000 in attorney’s fees, which were to be paid by the company, and another $2,500 for sanctions that involved abusing the evidentiary discovery process.
Michael Ishee filed the appeal based on several issues, which included claims the evidence presented to the jury was “factually insufficient” in showing he breached fiduciary duty, that the trail court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the claims, that the award was excessive and that the evidence didn’t support the exemplary damages award.
Ishee’s company also appealed on claims the trial court awarded Janice Ishee more than she had requested in declaratory relief and that the court erred in making it “jointly and severally” liable for attorney’s fees in the case.
“We reverse and remand the judgment against Michael on Janice’s fiduciary duty and breach of contract claims, and we order that on retrial, the trial court conduct another trial on Janice’s claims against Michael regarding those claims,” the appeals court wrote in its opinion.
It also deleted wording in the lower court judgment holding Michael Ishee’s company responsible for attorney’s fees.
The court did, however, affirm the lower court’s awarding of declaratory relief, attorney’s fees and the sanctions.