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Glassman v. Goodfriend

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

March 21, 2017

ELENE B. GLASSMAN, Appellant
v.
MERYL B. GOODFRIEND, Appellee

         On Appeal from Probate Court No. 1 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 350750.

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Jamison, and Donovan.

          OPINION

          Tracy Christopher Justice

         This is appellant Elene B. Glassman's second untimely attempt to appeal the judgment rendered against her for breach of fiduciary duty. Five years after the trial court rendered the final judgment at issue, Glassman collaterally attacked the judgment on the ground that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to render it, and thus, the judgment was void. In an en banc decision, we held that the record established that the trial court did have jurisdiction, and we sanctioned her for bringing a frivolous appeal. See Glassman v. Goodfriend, 347 S.W.3d 772 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, pet. denied) (op. on reh'g en banc) ("Glassman I"). We denied her motion for rehearing, and the Texas Supreme Court denied both her petition for review and her motion for rehearing of her petition for review.

         Another five years has passed, and Glassman has again come before us, arguing that our earlier decision was wrong. Appellee Meryl B. Goodfriend asks us to sanction Glassman for bringing a frivolous appeal and to reverse the trial court's denial of Goodfriend's motion to declare Glassman a vexatious litigant.

         We affirm the trial court's judgment. Although we lack jurisdiction to review the trial court's refusal to declare Goodfriend a vexatious litigant, we grant Goodfriend's request for sanctions against Glassman for bringing a frivolous appeal.

         I. Background

         We summarize the earlier background of this case as drawn from Glassman I.

         A. The Underlying 2006 Judgment

         Upon the death of their last-surviving parent, sisters Glassman and Goodfriend were to receive the remainder of their parents' inter vivos trust. Id. at 775. Glassman failed to fulfill her duty as trustee, and Goodfriend filed suit against Glassman in Harris County Probate Court No. 1 to compel Glassman to render a final accounting and distribute the trust's assets. See id. Glassman still refused to do so, even after being sanctioned and confined for contempt. See id. at 775-76. The trial court removed Glassman as trustee, terminated the trust, and appointed a successor trustee to wind up the trust. Id. at 776. Goodfriend's claims against Glassman for breach of fiduciary duty, including malfeasance and defalcation, were tried without a jury; Glassman did not attend. Id.

         On June 27, 2006, the trial court signed a final judgment awarding Goodfriend nearly $308, 000 in actual damages and $50, 000 in exemplary damages, together with attorney's fees and interest, and denying all relief on Glassman's counterclaims. See id. at 776-77. The trial court also ordered Glassman to relinquish to Goodfriend all trust property. Id. at 777. Glassman did not timely appeal the judgment. See id. at 777, 778, 783. After a final accounting, the trust closed in 2007. See id. at 776.

         B. Glassman's First Collateral Attack on the Underlying Judgment

         To collect the judgment, Goodfriend instituted a garnishment proceeding, which was filed in Harris County Probate Court No. 1 under a separate cause number. See id. at 777. In 2009, the trial court signed a final garnishment order. Id.

         In her appeal of the garnishment order, Glassman collaterally attacked the underlying 2006 judgment. According to Glassman, Harris County Probate Court No. 1 lacked jurisdiction to render the 2006 judgment, and thus, the judgment was void. See id. at 778. She additionally argued, inter alia, that the trial ...


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