Ninth District Court of Appeals upholds verdict favoring Neches Federal Credit Union

By David Hutton | Jan 16, 2018

BEAUMONT – The Texas 9th District Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s “take-nothing” judgment favoring Neches Federal Credit Union in a lawsuit over a home construction project.

Glen and Gwendolyn Comeaux appealed the decision in favor of NFCU and Darrick McGriff, arguing that the jury’s conclusion that they were not damaged by ABC Contracting’s "failure to complete its work on their house is unfair," the opinion states.

Justice Hollis Horton wrote the opinion, delivered on Jan. 11. Justices Steve McKeithen and Charles Kreger concurred.

According to the ruling, in April 2012, the Comeauxs and McGriff, doing business as ABC Contracting, signed a construction agreement that required ABC Contracting to build a house for $260,000. About two weeks later, the Comeauxs, McGriff and NFCU agreed to a construction loan agreement to fund the construction.

Under terms of the agreement, NFCU would loan the Comeauxs $250,000 toward the construction of the house and required the proceeds of the loan to be disbursed as the work was completed, the opinion states. The loan proceeds were also to be used to pay for the labor and materials that McGriff used in constructing the house, and the house was to be built on a lot the Comeauxs owned.

"The Comeauxs signed a deed of trust in NFCU’s favor to secure the loan," the opinion states.

Somewhere along the line, the project broke down, which resulted in the Comeauxs filing a lawsuit in August 2015 over allegations that McGriff left the job unfinished.

The couple also alleged that NFCU had permitted McGriff to withdraw all of the proceeds from the loan even though it knew or should have known that he didn’t plan to use the money for the project. The Comeauxs’ claimed breach of contract, fraud and negligence.

The jury sided with the couple when it came to McGriff, however, "the jury answered 'no' to questions inquiring whether NFCU had breached its contract with the Comeauxs, committed fraud or acted negligently in handling the Comeauxs’ loan," the opinion states.

While the jury ruled in favor of the Comeauxs when it came to the liability issues concerning McGriff, it found they were entitled to no damages.

"Following the jury’s verdict, the Comeauxs didn’t file any post-trial motions, including any motions for judgment non obstante veredicto or a motion for a new trial," the opinion states.

On their appeal, the Comeauxs argue that the evidence contradicts the jury’s ruling in favor of NFCU and it established that the credit union damaged them.

They also argued that the jury’s ruling that McGriff didn’t not damage them was contradictory to the evidence introduced during the trial.

However, the records indicate that the Comeauxs didn’t preserve the various complaints they had hoped to raise for the first time in their appeal.

“In a case tried to a jury, to complain on appeal that a jury finding is not supported by factually sufficient evidence or that a finding is against the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence, a party must have first raised the matter in a motion for a new trial,” Horton wrote in the opinion.

Hordon added that “because the record shows the Comeauxs did not bring their complaints about the jury’s verdict to the trial court’s attention in an appropriate post-trial motion, we conclude they failed to preserve their issues for our review. We overrule the Comeauxs’ issues and affirm the trial court’s final judgment.”

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