14th Court of Appeals reverses TDCA, conspiracy rulings in foreclosure case

By Charmaine Little | Feb 14, 2019

HOUSTON – The 14th Court of Appeals has granted a mixed ruling in an appeal over a no-evidence summary judgment in case over the foreclosure of a property.

The 14th Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 5 to affirm in part, reverse and remand in part a decision of the 506th Judicial District Court of Waller County. The Appeals Court reversed and remanded the judgment in favor of the Green parties over the Texas Debt Collection Act claims, economic duress or coercion and conspiracy. The remainder of the Davis parties' claims were affirmed.

Justice Margaret Poissant authored the opinion. Justices Ken Wise and Meagan Hassan were on the panel.

According to the ruling, Richard D. Davis LLP (Davis Texas) in Texas bought a tract from Sky Lakes Inc. with a trust for a deed in 1993. In 2006, the promissory note was assigned to the Sky Lakes Flyers Foundation and not long after, SLFF issued default notices over allegations of failure to provide proof insurance and payment taxes as well as the status of the property's condition.

Davis Texas received injunctive relief to prevent foreclosure in September 2007, refinanced and transferred interest to Richard D. Davis LLP, this time a Nevada limited liability partnership (Davis Nevada). SLFF filed a counterclaim to the 2007 suit, naming Richard D. Davis and Patricia K. Suarez as third-party defendants over allegations of breach of contract. 

Meanwhile, Andy Knott, Bill Green, et al. (the Green parties) sued Davis Nevada, Davis Texas and Suarez (the Davis parties) as well as Jump Out Express LLC over allegations breach of contract, tortious interference with use and enjoyment of property nuisance, and asked for equitable relief via a temporary and permanent injunction as well as attorney's fees. 

The lower court granted the Green parties motion for temporary injunction in June 2009. The Davis parties then counterclaimed in allegations that were severed into the current suit, and the Green parties moved for no-evidence summary judgment for many claims including breach of contract, fraud, and tortious interference. The lower court granted summary judgment for the Green parties, and the Davis parties appealed.

The Appeals Court determined the lower court correctly granted summary judgment for the breach of contract and wrongful acceleration claims. 

“Because the Davis parties have not demonstrated on appeal that they have more than a scintilla of evidence of the third element of breach of contract, they did not meet their burden to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to each element,” the Appeals Court said as it affirmed the trial court’s ruling for this portion of the claim.

The same held true for the fraud, interference and violation of an automatic stay claims.

However, the Appeals Court did sustain the Davis parties' issue for economic coercion and duress since this wasn’t presented during trial court. It also sustained the Davis parties' conspiracy claim and stated the trial court erred in granting summary judgment for this since it held a similar ruling for economic coercion and duress. 

These, along with claims of the violation of the Texas Debt Collection Act were remanded back to the lower court.

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