Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the 192nd Judicial District Court Dallas County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. 13-00156-E
Justices Lang, Brown, and Richter 
MEMORANDUM OPINION ON REHEARING
appellee United Services Automobile Association's (USAA)
motion for rehearing, but withdraw our original opinion and
substitute the following in its place.
Sunny Letot appeals a summary judgment granted in favor of
USAA. In two issues, Letot generally asserts the trial court
erred in granting summary judgment because (1) USAA failed to
establish that it properly reported her vehicle as salvage to
the Texas Department of Transportation, and (2) USAA
otherwise failed to show it was entitled to summary judgment
on her individual claims. For the following reasons, we
reverse the trial court's summary judgment on Letot's
claims under the Texas Insurance Code, conversion, and
tortious interference with existing contractual relations and
remand those claims to the trial court for further
proceedings. We affirm the trial court's summary judgment
that Letot take-nothing on her claims for tortious
interference with prospective contractual relations, slander
of title and injurious falsehood.
January 2, 2009, Letot was involved in a motor vehicle
accident with USAA's insured, Evan Crosby. At the time of
the collision, Letot was driving a vintage 1983 Mercedes she
had recently restored.
immediately after the collision, Letot contacted USAA seeking
to recover her property damages. On January 15, after
investigating her claim, USAA informed Letot that it had
deemed her vehicle a "total loss" and offered to
pay her $2, 494.02, which it asserted was the actual cash
value of her vehicle. On January 20, Letot rejected
USAA's valuation and its offer.
the next day, on January 21, USAA mailed Letot an uncertified
check for $2, 494.02 and, the day after that, USAA submitted
an "Owner Retained Report" ("Report") to
the Texas Department of Transportation ("TxDoT")
pursuant to provisions of the Texas Certificate of Title Act
("the Act"). In the Report,
USAA represented to TxDoT that it had paid a claim on a
salvage motor vehicle, that Letot retained that vehicle, and
therefore the motor vehicle records should be marked to
prevent further transfer of title until Letot obtained a
subsequently received USAA's check. On January 30, now
through counsel, Letot returned the check. That same day,
TxDoT sent Letot a letter to inform her that USAA had filed
the Report and, as a result, her registration was no longer
valid, she was not permitted to operate the vehicle, and she
could not transfer it until she obtained a salvage title.
receiving the letter and discussing her options with her
mechanic, Letot disposed of the vehicle as scrap to avoid
incurring further storage fees. Then, almost two years after
it filed the Report, USAA filed a "correction" with
TxDoT, representing it had filed the Report in error and that
the damages to Letot's vehicle were insufficient to
classify it as a salvage motor vehicle.
sued USAA asserting claims for (1) violations of the
Insurance Code and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, (2)
conversion, (3) tortious interference with existing and
prospective contractual relations, (4) slander of title, and
(5) injurious falsehood. USAA moved for summary judgment
asserting both traditional and no-evidence grounds. First,
USAA asserted it was entitled to summary judgment on all of
Letot's claims because it properly filed the Report in
accordance with the provisions of the Act. USAA also moved
for summary judgment on each of Letot's individual
claims. Following a hearing, the trial court granted
USAA's motion, without stating its reasons, and rendered
judgment that Letot take nothing. This appeal followed.
Traditional Motion for Summary Judgment
traditional motion for summary judgment must state "the
specific grounds therefor." Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c);
see also Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Lenk, 361 S.W.3d
602, 609 (Tex. 2012) ("[C]ourt cannot grant summary
judgment on grounds that were not presented.");
McConnell v. Southside Indep. Sch. Dist., 858 S.W.2d
337, 339 (Tex. 1993) (motion must expressly present grounds
for summary judgment). "Grounds" refers to the
reasons entitling the movant to summary judgment.
McConnell, 858 S.W.2d at 339 n. 2. The motion must
provide the nonmovant with adequate information to oppose the
motion and to define the issues for the purpose of summary
judgment. See Westchester Fire Ins. Co. v. Alvarez,
576 S.W.2d 771, 772 (Tex. 1978).
entitled to traditional summary judgment, a defendant must
conclusively negate at least one essential element of each of
the plaintiff's causes of action or conclusively
establish each element of an affirmative defense. Am.
Tobacco Co., Inc. v. Grinnell, 951 S.W.2d 420, 425 (Tex.
1997). Evidence is conclusive only if reasonable people could
not differ in their conclusions. City of Keller v.
Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 816 (Tex. 2005). Summary
judgment is also proper if the material facts are not in
dispute and the sole question is whether those facts entitle
the movant to summary judgment. City of Dallas v.
Cornerstone Bank, N.A., 879 S.W.2d 264, 269 (Tex.
App.-Dallas 1994, no writ).
No-Evidence Motion for Summary Judgment
no-evidence motion is distinct from a traditional motion. Its
purpose is to pierce the pleadings to assess whether the
factual allegations have evidentiary support. Robinson v.
Warner-Lambert & Old Corner Drug, 998 S.W.2d 407,
410 (Tex. App.-Waco 1999, no pet.). Unlike a movant seeking
summary judgment on traditional grounds, the movant is not
required to show it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law or to present any evidence. See Tex. R. Civ. P.
166a(i). Instead, the movant may move for summary judgment on
the ground that there is no evidence of one or more essential
elements of a claim or defense on which the adverse party
would have the burden of proof at trial. See id. The
motion must identify the particular element or elements on
which there is no evidence. Id. A motion may be
directed at specific factual theories or allegations within a
claim or defense only if the challenge is connected to a
specified element of a claim or defense. See Pakideh v.
Pope, No. 13-08-00560-CV, 2010 WL 3820899, at *4-5 (Tex.
App.-Corpus Christi Sept. 30, 2010, no pet.) (mem. op.)
(no-evidence challenge to fourteen factual allegations not
connected to a no-evidence challenge to an element of a claim
was defective); see also Callaghan Ranch, Ltd. v.
Killam, 53 S.W.3d 1, 3-4 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2000,
ruling on a no-evidence motion, the trial court does not rule
on substantive questions of law. See, e.g. Hartford
Accident & Indem. Co. v. Seagoville Partners,
05-15-00760-CV, 2016 WL 3199003, at *2 (Tex. App.-Dallas June
9, 2016, no pet.) (explaining distinction between summary
judgment rulings based on summary judgment evidence and those
based on substantive questions of law). Rather, it determines
whether the movant produced more than a scintilla of
probative evidence to raise a fact issue on the challenged
elements. Killingsworth v. Housing Auth. of City of
Dallas, 447 S.W.3d 480, 486 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2014, pet.
denied). More than a scintilla of evidence exists if the
evidence rises to a level that would enable reasonable and
fair-minded jurors to differ in their conclusions.
Hamilton v. Wilson, 249 S.W.3d 425, 426 (Tex. 2008)
noted, Letot's claims are based on her complaint that
USAA falsely reported that it had "paid a claim" on
a salvage motor vehicle. USAA moved for summary judgment
asserting it was entitled to traditional summary judgment on
all of Letot's claims because it showed, as a matter of
law, it filed the Report in accordance with mandatory
provisions of the Texas Transportation Code. In her first
issue, Letot contends the trial court erred in granting