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Henderson v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

March 3, 2017

DAVID HENDERSON AND KATHY HENDERSON, Appellants
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Appellee

         On Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-15-04766-B

          Before Justices Bridges, Myers, and Stoddart.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID L. BRIDGES JUSTICE

         This appeal arises from a forcible detainer action in which the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of appellee Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Wells Fargo). Appellants David and Kathy Henderson (the Hendersons) argue the trial court improperly granted summary judgment based on insufficient and incompetent evidence. They further argue the trial court abused its discretion by denying their motion to abate and concluding it had jurisdiction to hear Wells Fargo's forcible detainer action before the right to title was properly adjudicated. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         In March 2004, the Hendersons obtained a residential mortgage loan secured by a deed of trust for the property subject to this appeal.[1] The Hendersons later defaulted on the loan, and Wells Fargo purchased the property on June 2, 2015 at a foreclosure sale for $150, 067.29. The substitute trustee's deed contained sworn statements that the foreclosure sale complied with section 51.002 of the property code. The substitute trustee's deed also referenced the deed of trust, which provided:

If the Property is sold pursuant to Section 22, Borrower or any person holding possession of the Property through Borrower shall immediately surrender possession of the Property to the purchaser at that sale. If possession is not surrendered, Borrower or such person shall be a tenant at sufferance and may be removed by writ of possession or other court proceeding.

         According to Wells Fargo, the Hendersons then became tenants at sufferance after the foreclosure sale. Wells Fargo served the Hendersons with a notice to vacate, which they ignored.

         Wells Fargo filed a petition for forcible detainer and then a motion for summary judgment arguing no genuine issues of material fact existed as to its ownership and superior right to possession of the property.

         The Hendersons filed a response and objected to a portion of Wells Fargo's evidence. They filed a separate motion for summary judgment and motion to abate. In the motions, they argued the issue of title was intertwined with the issue of possession, which was being disputed separately in a district court lawsuit[2] and a federal district court lawsuit.[3] Because of these pending suits, they alleged a genuine issue of material fact existed to preclude summary judgment, and the title dispute precluded the court's jurisdiction.

         The trial court granted Wells Fargo's summary judgment motion, denied the Hendersons' summary judgment motion and motion to abate, and overruled their objections to the summary judgment evidence. It ordered possession of the property to Wells Fargo. This appeal followed.

         Jurisdiction

         In their first issue, the Hendersons argue the trial court erred by concluding it had jurisdiction to hear Wells Fargo's forcible detainer case before the right to title was properly adjudicated. They contend the issue of title is so intertwined with the issue of possession that possession cannot be adjudicated without first determining title. We disagree.

         Whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law we review do novo. City of Dallas v. ...


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