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Action Bail Bonds v. Vela

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

December 19, 2013

ACTION BAIL BONDS, JOHN DUMAS, AND STEVE PARKS, Appellants,
v.
YOLANDA VELA, Appellee.

On appeal from the County Court at Law of San Patricio County, Texas.

Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Garza and Perkes.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROGELIOVALDEZ, Chief Justice.

By three issues, [1] which we address as two issues, appellants, Action Bail Bonds, John Dumas, and Steve Parks, challenge the trial court's grant of the traditional and no- evidence motion for summary judgment in favor of appellee plaintiff Yolanda Vela. We affirm.

I. Background

On January 25, 2007, Ivette Vela was arrested on the charge of money-laundering. She executed a bail bond agreement with Action Bail Bonds (Action) to provide a $75, 000 bond for her case. Ivette paid a fee of $8, 000, and her aunt, Yolanda, entered into a collateral agreement whereby she put up $35, 000 as collateral for Ivette's bond. The agreement stated as follows:

I, Yolanda Vela, understand that I am giving to Action Bail Bonds a cashier's check and/or money order in the amount of $35, 000. I am under the understanding that these monies are to be held as collateral for the bond of Ivette Corina Vela ($75, 000 money laundering). Should Ivette Corina Vela not follow the conditions of bond that Action Bail Bonds has set forth which includes failure to appear in court, I understand that Action Bail Bonds will not return any monies to me in the event bonding conditions are broken. I also understand should no bonding conditions be broken the monies will be returned when to [sic] when Action Bail Bonds has received the final disposition from the court regarding the above case of Ivette Corina Vela.

The agreement was signed and notarized on January 27, 2007.

In letters dated December 22, 2010 and January 20, 2011, Yolanda's attorney demanded the return of the $35, 000 dollars posted as collateral for the bond. The letters stated, "enclosed herewith please find a copy of the Dismissal and Discharge from Prosecution. . . ." Subsequently, Yolanda filed suit to recover the $35, 000 she paid as collateral, claiming that appellants breached the collateral agreement by failing to return the $35, 000. In response, appellants filed an answer and, later, an amended answer and counterclaim arguing (1) "the affirmative plea of breach of contract in that the terms of the bond were not complied with"[2] and (2) Ivette was "still liable on the bond until there is a final adjudication on the [Ivette's] underlying criminal case. . . ." The motion further asserted:

1) [Appellants] believe[] that Plaintiff/Counter Defendant is partly or solely responsible for some or all of her damages;
2) Plaintiffs case is based on the use of funds provided by Plaintiff to guarantee the appearance and compliance of [Ivette] for the issuance of a bond issued by [appellants];
3) The written terms of the bond and collateral agreement were not complied with by Ivette;
4) This case was brought in bad faith and if [sic] frivolous in that the criminal case has not had a final adjudication;
5) [Appellants] are still liable for the full amount of the bond should the State wish to pursue a case against Ivette. . . .

Yolanda then filed a traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment contending that she was entitled to the return of the collateral because she had established her claim as a matter of law. The no-evidence portion of her motion was included to force appellants to provide evidence of its breach of contract claim in order to survive summary judgment.

Along with her summary judgment motion, Yolanda presented a "Dismissal and Discharge from Prosecution" signed by Patrick L. Flanigan, the District Attorney for the 36th Judicial District, and dated August 27, 2009, wherein the State prayed that Ivette's money laundering charge be "discharged and dismissed without prejudice." The document stated: "Investigation and latent print comparison not completed; insufficient evidence; in the Interest of Justice the state seeks dismissal." Yolanda also submitted a letter from Flanigan on his official letterhead stating,

My records indicate that the charges were dismissed on or about August 27, 2009. In my conversation with the bondsman for Ms. Vela I have indicated that this case will not be prosecuted and I felt that there was no legitimate reason that the ...

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