SE Texas Record

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Appeals court reverses take-nothing judgment awarded to physician

Lawsuits

By John Suayan | Jun 12, 2019


HOUSTON – The Texas First Court of Appeals issued an opinion June 6 overturning a lower court’s judgment in favor of a family practice physician who was sued for breaching a lease.

The 29-page opinion, written by Justice Russell Lloyd and concurred with by justices Peter Kelly and Richard Hightower, reversed the Harris County Civil Court take-nothing judgment rendered against appellant CHCA Woman’s Hospital, LP, doing business as Woman’s Hospital of Texas, in its lawsuit against appellee Dr. Nema Uwaydah.

The hospital sued Uwaydah for failing to adhere to an agreement required the physician to pay $4,719.06 a month from April 2016 to March 2017. In her defense, Uwaydah countered that she was wrongfully evicted from the premises and that the hospital caused her to lose patients and income when its switchboard personnel “falsely and negligently told some of her patients who were trying to contact her that she was no longer practicing medicine [on] the premises.”

Both parties then faced off in a bench trial. The lower court ordered that Uwaydah was entitled to recover $67,176.62 in actual damages and $12,000 in attorney fees from the hospital, and it rendered a take-nothing judgment against the hospital on its breach of contract claim.

The hospital’s appeal of the judgment was four-fold

 “The trial court erred by rendering a take-nothing judgment against it on its breach of contract claim against [Dr.] Uwaydah because the hospital established that it was entitled to judgment on its claim as a matter of law, and there is legally and factually insufficient evidence supporting the trial court’s findings; the trial court erred by rendering judgment in Uwaydah’s favor on her claim for wrongful eviction, and there is legally and factually insufficient evidence supporting the trial court’s findings, the trial court erred by rendering judgment in Uwaydah’s favor on her negligence claim, and there is legally and factually insufficient evidence supporting the trial court’s findings,” [and] the trial court erred by awarding Uwaydah her attorney’s fees based on her wrongful eviction claim.”

The panel sustained all arguments.

We reverse the take-nothing judgment rendered against the hospital on its breach of contract claim and render judgment in the hospital’s favor in the amount of $34,109.12,” Lloyd wrote. “We remand the issue of the hospital’s attorney’s fees for new trial.

“We reverse the trial court’s judgment on Uwaydah’s wrongful eviction and negligence claims and render a take-nothing judgment against Uwaydah on both claims. Because Uwaydah’s award of attorney’s fees is predicated on her wrongful eviction claim, we reverse that award as well and render a take-nothing judgment against Uwaydah on her claim for such fees.”

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