Appeal from the 281st District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2014-39435.
consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.
suit on a sworn account, the appellant contends that the
trial court erred in granting the appellees' motion for
traditional and no-evidence summary judgment and ruling that
appellant take nothing on his counterclaims. We affirm.
Thanh Le was injured in an accident on December 23, 2010.
North Cypress Medical Center (North Cypress) treated Le for
his injuries on December 23-24 and 27. On February 3,
2011, North Cypress filed a hospital lien in Harris County to
secure Le's debt for the medical services provided as a
result of the December 23 accident pursuant to Texas Property
Code chapter 55.
February 4, 2013, North Cypress filed a sworn release of the
hospital lien (the Original Release), in which it averred:
The above named hospital acknowledges payment in full of the
above mentioned amount due for treatment, care and
maintenance and the hospital hereby releases the claim and
lien heretofore filed . . . ."
2014, North Cypress filed a suit on a sworn account, alleging
that Le failed and refused to pay $8, 292.54 for the medical
services it provided to him in December 2010.
not answer the lawsuit or respond to requests for disclosure
and admissions, so North Cypress moved for a default
judgment. Le, acting pro se, answered with a general denial,
but did not answer the requested discovery. North Cypress
moved for summary judgment on its sworn account.
acquired counsel and on February 1, 2016, filed an amended
answer, verified denial, affirmative defenses, request for
declaratory judgment, and counterclaims for fraud and
violation of the Texas Debt Collection Act. In his pleadings,
Le argued that the filing of the Original Release
acknowledging it received "payment in full" for the
amount due for Le's treatment and releasing "the
claim and lien" constituted a release of the same debt
which it was suing to recover, and therefore North
Cypress's claim regarding this debt should be dismissed.
Contemporaneously, North Cypress amended its summary judgment
February 4, North Cypress filed a sworn amended release of
its hospital lien (Amended Release), which deleted the
acknowledgment of "payment in full" and the
language releasing "the claim" to read simply:
"The above named hospital hereby releases the lien
heretofore filed . . . ." The Amended Release also adds
the following introductory paragraph:
This document hereby amends [the] release of hospital lien
document filing #1031012 dated February 4, 2013 and relates
back to the time of filing February 4, 2013. The language of
the release contained a clerical error. The charges were not
paid. The Hospital Lien is being released because there is no
third party liability to which the lien can attach.
Le's answer and North Cypress's summary judgment
motion were amended again, and the summary judgment motion
was submitted in March.
March 22, 2016, the trial court signed a "Final Summary
Judgment, " concluding that no genuine issue of material
fact existed with regard to the claims brought by North
Cypress, and that North Cypress was entitled to summary
judgment on Le's counterclaims. The court awarded North
Cypress $8, 292.54, plus pre-judgment and post-judgment
interest and attorney's fees.
of Le's Issues
appeal, Le presents a single issue broken down into four
sub-issues. Le contends that the trial court erred in
granting North Cypress's summary judgment motion because:
(1) North Cypress did not satisfy its burden to prove the
elements of a suit on a sworn account; (2) Le's sworn
denial prevented summary judgment from being granted on a
suit for a sworn account; (3) North Cypress's Original
Release of its hospital lien and the subsequent Amended
Release pushed the suit on the sworn account outside the
statute of limitations; and (4) the trial court erred in
granting the no-evidence portion of the summary judgment. We
address each issue in turn.