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Briggs v. Bank of America N.A.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

February 22, 2017

Guamnetta M. BRIGGS, Appellant
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A. and Federal National Mortgage Association, Appellees

         From the 408th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2010-CI-13120 Honorable Karen H. Pozza, Judge Presiding


          Sitting: Marialyn Barnard, Justice, Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice, Irene Rios, Justice.


          Marialyn Barnard, Justice.

         This is an appeal from a trial court's summary judgment in favor of appellees Bank of America, N.A. and Federal National Mortgage Association (collectively "Bank of America"). On appeal, appellant Guamnetta M. Briggs challenges the summary judgment. We affirm the trial court's summary judgment.


         In 2010, Bank of America, N.A. foreclosed its lien on real property owned by Briggs due to a default in mortgage payments. Federal National Mortgage Association purchased the property at foreclosure. Thereafter, Briggs filed suit against Bank of America, asserting numerous causes of action.

         Bank of America sought summary judgment on two of Briggs's claims, which the trial court granted. More than a year later, Bank of America filed a motion to strike, asserting Briggs had failed to respond to numerous discovery requests promulgated in 2010. The trial court granted the motion, finding Briggs failed to respond to requests for disclosure and interrogatories, and failed to demonstrate good cause for such failure.

         Bank of America filed a second motion for summary judgment as to Briggs's remaining claims. Briggs sought, and was granted, two continuances for purposes of securing evidence to respond to the motion, which was a no evidence motion for summary judgment. Briggs ultimately filed a motion to reopen discovery and a response to the motion for summary judgment. After a hearing, at which Briggs's main argument was the impropriety of the prior order granting the motion to strike, the trial court denied the motion to reopen discovery and granted summary judgment in favor of Bank of America. Subsequently, eviction proceedings were concluded and possession of the property was awarded to Federal National Mortgage Association.

         At all times prior to the filing of the notice of appeal, Briggs was represented by counsel. However, she filed a pro se notice of appeal and now appears before this court pro se.


         As an initial matter, we must determine whether Briggs has presented anything for this court's review. On July 18, 2016, Briggs filed her brief in this court. After reviewing the brief, we determined it did not comply with Rule 38.1 of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1. Specifically, we found the brief violated Rule 38.1 in that it did not include: (1) the identity of the parties and counsel; (2) a table of contents; (3) an index of authorities; (4) a statement of the case with record references; (5) a brief statement of the issues presented; (6) a statement of facts with record references; (7) a summary of the argument; (8) argument with appropriate citation to authorities and the appellate record; or (9) a prayer stating the nature of the relief sought. See id. R. 38.1(a)-(d), (f)-(j). Moreover, the brief did not contain a proper certificate of service. See id. R. 9.5(a), (d), (e).

         Accordingly, on July 25, 2016, we issued an order, finding the brief flagrantly violated Rule 38.1, and ordering Briggs to file an amended brief. After this court granted Briggs an extension of time, she filed an amended brief. After reviewing the amended brief, we determined it too failed to comply with Rule 38.1, sending Briggs a letter notifying her that her amended brief was deficient. See id. R. 38.1. Briggs did not respond to our letter.

         Texas appellate courts, including this court, have long held that an appellant's brief must contain clear and concise arguments with appropriate citations to authorities and the record. See, e.g., In re Estate of Aguilar, No. 04-13-00038-CV, 2014 WL 667516, at *8 (Tex. App.-San Antonio Feb. 19, 2014, pet. denied) (mem. op.); Keyes Helium Co. v. Regency Gas. Servs., L.P., 393 S.W.3d 858, 861-62 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, no pet.); Niera v. Frost Nat'l Bank, No. 04- 09-00224-CV, 2010 WL 816191, at *3 (Tex. App.-San Antonio Mar. 10, 2010, pet. denied) (mem. op.); WorldPeace v. Comm'n for Lawyer Discipline, 183 S.W.3d 451, 460 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, pet. denied); Citizens Nat'l Bank v. Allen Rae Invs., Inc., 142 S.W.3d 459, 489 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2004, no pet.); see also Tex. R. App. P. 38.1(i). A reviewing court has no duty to properly brief the issues for the appellant or to search the appellate record for facts supporting an appellant's argument. Torres v. Garcia, No. 04-11-00822-CV, 2012 WL 3808593, at *4 (Tex. App.-San Antonio Aug. 31, 2012, no pet.) (mem.op.); Rubsamen v. Wackman, 322 S.W.3d 745, 746 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2010, no pet.); Huey v. Huey, 200 S.W.3d 851, 854 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, no pet.). In other words, it is the appellant's burden "to discuss [her] assertions of error, and we have no duty-or even right-to perform an independent review of the record and applicable law to determine whether there was error." Rubsamen, 322 S.W.3d at 746. In sum, as stated by the Texas Supreme Court in 2012, "[t]he Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure require adequate briefing." ERI Consulting Eng'rs, Inc. v. Swinnea, 318 S.W.3d 867, 880 (Tex. 2010). When an appellant fails to cite applicable authority, fails to provide relevant citations to the record, or fails to provide substantive analysis for an issue presented in the brief, nothing is presented for our review. See, e.g., Keyes Helium Co., 393 S.W.3d 861-62 (holding that failure to cite to relevant portions of record waives appellate review); Huey, 200 S.W.3d at 854 (holding that failure to cite applicable authority or provide substantive analysis waives issue on appeal); Niera, 2010 WL 816191, at *3 (holding that ...

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