Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Napoleon v. Strategic Dealer Services, LP

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

March 6, 2017

BRITTANY NAPOLEON, Appellant
v.
STRATEGIC DEALER SERVICES, LP, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 14th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-15-06912.

          Before Justices Lang, Lang-Miers, and Myers

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH LANG-MIERS JUSTICE

         Brittany Napoleon sued Strategic Dealer Services, LP for use of a fraudulent motor vehicle lien. Strategic countersued Napoleon for breach of a motor vehicle retail installment contract.[1] Each party moved for traditional and no-evidence summary judgment on its own claim and the other party's claim. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Strategic. Napoleon appeals the trial court's rulings. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         On February 16, 2014, Napoleon purchased a vehicle on credit from El Caporal Auto Sales and signed a motor vehicle retail installment contract requiring a down payment, the first month's payment, and 47 monthly payments of $450 each. The contract gave El Caporal a security interest in the vehicle and stated that the contract could be assigned or sold.

         El Caporal had a "Master Agreement" with Strategic and Bonfire Capital Group, LLC to sell its paper and loans pursuant to specific terms and conditions. Nine days after finalizing Napoleon's deal, El Caporal assigned Napoleon's contract and two other contracts to Bonfire pursuant to the Master Agreement and a separate "Purchase Agreement" listing the details of the three loans. The day after El Caporal assigned Napoleon's contract to Bonfire, it also assigned the contract to Strategic. Strategic in turn paid El Caporal $8, 450 for the contract and its name was listed on the vehicle title as second lienholder. It is undisputed that Napoleon paid El Caporal the down payment and first month's payment, and then paid Bonfire or its servicing agent eleven monthly payments over the next year.

         Sometime in October 2014, Strategic and Bonfire became aware that El Caporal had sold Napoleon's contract and thirteen other contracts to both of them. They determined that Strategic had the superior rights, and Bonfire assigned all of its rights under Napoleon's contract to Strategic by a separate written agreement. Bonfire and its servicing agent returned the payments it had received from Napoleon to her and recommended that she use the money to pay Strategic. She did not.

         In November 2014, Strategic, through its loan servicing agent TexCap Financial LLC, sent a letter to Napoleon advising her that El Caporal no longer owned her contract and gave her an address to which to send future payments. At some point, TexCap was no longer involved, and in February 2015, Strategic advised Napoleon that her payments were due to Strategic and notified her of the address to which to send payments. But Napoleon was skeptical about Strategic's status as second lienholder and began investigating the matter. She discovered an application for title to her vehicle on which she claimed her signature had been forged. She filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

         Meanwhile, in March 2015, Napoleon told Strategic about the forged application for title and said she was not going to make any payments to Strategic. When Napoleon did not make payments due under the contract, Strategic repossessed the vehicle. Napoleon reported the vehicle as stolen, and the police took possession of it. Napoleon hired a lawyer who sent Strategic a letter advising Strategic to stop all attempts to enforce a fraudulent lien and to release its lien on the vehicle in order to avoid litigation. After conducting its own investigation, the police released the vehicle to Strategic about a month later and Strategic ultimately sold it.

         Napoleon sued Strategic for use of a fraudulent lien. In her amended petition, Napoleon alleged that El Caporal reproduced blank copies of the contract, forged her signature, and then sold forged contracts to Bonfire and Strategic. She alleged that Strategic "became aware of the fact that El Caporal had perpetrated a massive fraud on several creditors by falsifying documents" based on the following statement by Strategic to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in May 2015:

Upon contact with Ms. Napoleon, we were advised that she had been making payments to Bonfire Financial/Innovate Finance. El Caporal Auto Sales had fraudulently pledged the [vehicle] to Bonfire Financial/Innovate Finance while Strategic Dealer Services LP was recorded as the lien holder.

         Napoleon alleged that despite its knowledge of El Caporal's fraud, Strategic attempted to enforce the contract and lien against her. She alleged eight different "uses" of the fraudulent lien by Strategic: (i) in a November 2014 letter to her stating El Caporal no longer owned her contract and that payments were due to Strategic through its loan servicer TexCap Financial; (ii) in its May 2015 response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; (iii) in its response to the DMV investigation in which it asserted an interest in the vehicle; (iv) in a March 2015 letter to her stating that the contract was owned by Strategic Automotive Servicing, LLC and that payments were due to that entity; (v) on March 25, 2015, when Strategic repossessed the vehicle; (vi) in a March 25, 2015 letter to her advising that Strategic would sell the vehicle; (vii) on April 22, 2015, when Strategic reclaimed the vehicle from the city pound; and (viii) during various telephone calls to Napoleon in an attempt to collect payments. Napoleon sought statutory damages of $10, 000 per violation, exemplary damages, attorney's fees, and costs.

         Napoleon did not sue El Caporal. Strategic answered and filed a counterclaim against Napoleon for breach of contract.[2]

         The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Strategic on its claim for breach of contract and on Napoleon's claim for use of a fraudulent lien. The final judgment stated that Strategic was entitled to "offsets" of $10, 135.03 and attorney's fees. But because Napoleon had not been awarded damages, the court rendered a take-nothing judgment as to both parties.

         On appeal, Napoleon asserts six issues, grouped into two categories: (1) the trial court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of Strategic on its claim for breach of contract; and (2) the trial court erred by granting ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.