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Reynolds v. Reynolds

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

April 13, 2017


         On Appeal from the 300th District Court Brazoria County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 48170

          Panel consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.


          J. Brett Busby Justice

         These former spouses appear regularly on our docket. In this latest chapter of their long-running dispute, appellant Wilma Reynolds challenges two rulings by the trial court: (1) the denial of her motion to compel appellee David Reynolds to produce financial records; and (2) the granting of David's traditional motion for summary judgment. Because we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied her motion to compel, we overrule Wilma's first issue. We overrule Wilma's second issue because David's summary judgment evidence established as a matter of law his affirmative defense of collateral estoppel. We therefore affirm the trial court's judgment.


         David petitioned for divorce from Wilma in 2008. Reynolds v. Reynolds, No. 14-09-00720-CV, 2010 WL 3418209, at * 1 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 31, 2010, pet. denied). David is employed by QuantLab Financial, LLC. Id. David also participates with his employer in two entities, QuantLab Trading Partners US, LLP (QTP) and Quantlab Incentive Partners I LLC (QIP). Id. In addition to his salary from Quantlab Financial, David receives income from both QTP and QIP. Id. During the 2009 divorce trial, a central dispute between the parties was "David's interest in and income derived from those entities, and how those items should be divided in the divorce decree." Reynolds v. Reynolds, No. 14-14-00080-CV, 2015 WL 4504626, at *1 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, July 23, 2015, no pet.). This issue was litigated and both David and Wilma submitted proposed divisions of the marital estate that encompassed the estate's interest in QTP and QIP.

         In the 2009 judgment dividing the marital estate, the trial court adopted David's proposed division and awarded Wilma $3, 220, 874.74 and other property, and also awarded her "50 percent of the year 2008 Estimated Income from [QIP] after taxes are paid on the income." Reynolds, 2010 WL 3418209, at *2. The divorce decree awarded David the marital estate's entire interest in both QTP and QIP except for the 50 percent of the 2008 estimated income from QIP specifically awarded to Wilma. In 2010, "[t]his Court affirmed the trial court's divorce decree and division of the marital estate because we concluded Wilma was estopped from challenging the decree on appeal as a result of her acceptance of the benefits of the property division." Reynolds, 2015 WL 4504626, at *1.

         The record does not reveal how much of the estate has been consumed by further litigation between the parties, which has included: a petition to modify the parent-child relationship; a bill of review; a petition to enforce property division; a petition for post-divorce division of community property; appeals associated with each of these proceedings; and at least thirteen petitions for writ of mandamus in this Court and three in the Supreme Court of Texas. Much of this litigation has concerned income (or records of income) from QTP and QIP.

         In 2015, Wilma filed the present petition seeking a post-divorce division of community property. Wilma alleged that there were community assets "undivided by the trial court, " including (1) the "community estate's earned income/bonuses or the community estate's share of earned profits" for QTP; and (2) the "community estate's earned QIP income/bonuses for the years 2007 or 2009." Soon thereafter, Wilma served requests for production on David. Among other things, Wilma asked David to produce his ownership and financial records related to QTP, QIP, and Quantlab Financial. Wilma also asked for records for all of David's accounts with domestic banks or other financial institutions and foreign banks or other financial institutions, for the period May 3, 1997 until April 22, 2009. Wilma served interrogatories on David inquiring into the same subjects.

         David filed a motion for protection from Wilma's discovery requests. Among other objections, David objected that the requests were not relevant, were an improper fishing expedition prohibited by the rules of discovery, were served for improper purposes including expense and harassment, were redundant of previous requests that had already been ruled on by the trial court and affirmed on appeal, and sought protected proprietary and financial information. Wilma responded with a motion to compel, which included no argument in response to David's objections. Instead, Wilma simply asked the trial court to overrule David's objections, deny his motion for protection, and compel him to respond to the discovery. Wilma also asked the trial court to take judicial notice of various documents that had been filed previously for in camera inspection, review the documents, determine their relevance to the pending action, and release any relevant documents to her.[1]

         David also filed a traditional motion for summary judgment on Wilma's petition for post-divorce division of community property. David argued he was entitled to summary judgment on three affirmative defenses: (1) statute of limitations, (2) res judicata, and (3) collateral estoppel.

         The trial court held a hearing in which it considered these pending motions. At the end of the hearing, the trial court denied Wilma's motion to compel, granted David's motion for protection, and granted David's motion for summary judgment. This appeal followed.


         I. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied ...

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