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Dish Network Corp. And Blockbuster, LLC v. Collin Central Appraisal District

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

April 27, 2017

DISH NETWORK CORPORATION AND BLOCKBUSTER, LLC, A WHOLLY OWNED SUBSIDIARY OF DISH NETWORK CORPORATION, Appellants
v.
COLLIN CENTRAL APPRAISAL DISTRICT, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 380th Judicial District Court Collin County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 380-03370-2012

          Before Justices Bridges, Lang-Miers, and Whitehill.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID L. BRIDGES JUSTICE.

         Dish Network Corporation and Blockbuster, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dish Network Corporation (Dish) appeals the trial court's traditional summary judgment in favor of Collin Central Appraisal District. In three issues, Dish argues the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because the evidence presented by the District was contradictory, conclusory, and non-existent. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         The summary judgment evidence shows that, in May 2011, Dish acquired Blockbuster. Dish filed a business personal property rendition of personal property, and the District appraised Dish's inventory at $70, 076, 219. In July 2011, Dish filed a protest for "excessive appraisal, unequal appraisal and appraisal of intangibles." Following a hearing in July 2011, the Collin County appraisal review board denied Dish's protest. In September 2012, Dish sued the District, alleging the District did not provide Dish with notice of the $70, 076, 219 appraisal. Dish further alleged the appraisal was in excess of fair market value; was based on an appraisal method that was antiquated, unfair, and erroneous; was unequal compared to a sample of similar properties; and constituted an unlawful levy and created an illegal lien on the property. Dish alleged it had presented to the appraisal review board a claim that clerical errors affected Dish's 2011 tax liability and had filed a motion to correct the appraisal roll and the value of the property pursuant to section 25.25(c) of the tax code. Dish claimed the appraisal erroneously included property that did not exist in the form or at the location described in the appraisal roll and property that Dish did not own on January 1 of 2011.

         In April 2015, the District filed a traditional motion for summary judgment in which it pointed out that Dish obtained a hearing before the appraisal review board in July 2011 but did not raise its 25.25(c) claims until March 2012. The District argued Dish's claims of clerical error were untimely and improper and constituted an attempt to have a second assessment of Dish's inventory for 2011. Further, the District argued that, under section 25.25(c), the appraisal roll may not be changed if the property was subject to a protest brought by the owner under Chapter 41, a hearing on the protest was conducted in which the property owner offered evidence or argument, and the appraisal review board made a determination of the protest on the merits. The District cited section 25.25(c)'s provision that a "clerical error" does not include an error that is or results from a mistake in judgment or reasoning in the making of the finding or determination. On June 1, 2015, the trial court granted the District's traditional motion for summary judgment, and this appeal followed.

         In three issues, Dish argues summary judgment was improper and the summary judgment evidence was (1) contradictory because it raised the issue of whether the District could have made a clerical error in assessing Dish's nontaxable assets; (2) conclusory because the District's proffered testimony merely stated that it made no errors in its calculations; and (3) lacking because no evidence was presented to show Dish's protests were untimely or improper. More specifically, Dish argues its own rendition for 2011 showing $24, 079, 794 in taxable property contradicted the District's assessment, thereby raising an issue of material fact whether the District could have committed a clerical error; the affidavit of District appraiser Brad Richards was conclusory because it merely stated the District arrived at the appraised value "through a process of deliberate determination, reasoning and appraisal" and did not result from a clerical error; and there were no work papers, schedules, or calculations provided to show how the District arrived at its appraised value. In making these arguments, Dish reiterates its argument that the appraisal erroneously included property that did not exist in the form or at the location described in the appraisal roll and property that Dish did not own on January 1 of 2011.

         The standard for reviewing a traditional summary judgment is well known. See Nixon v. Mr. Prop. Mgmt. Co., 690 S.W.2d 546, 548-49 (Tex. 1985); McAfee, Inc. v. Agilysys, Inc., 316 S.W.3d 820, 825 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.). The movants have the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c). In deciding whether a disputed material fact issue exists precluding summary judgment, evidence favorable to the nonmovant will be taken as true. Nixon, 690 S.W.2d at 549; In re Estate of Berry, 280 S.W.3d 478, 480 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.). Every reasonable inference must be indulged in favor of the nonmovant and any doubts resolved in his favor. City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 824 (Tex. 2005). We review a summary judgment de novo to determine whether a party's right to prevail is established as a matter of law. Dickey v. Club Corp. of Am., 12 S.W.3d 172, 175 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2000, pet. denied).

          The property tax code provides that the appraisal review board, on motion of the chief appraiser or a property owner, may direct changes in the appraisal role for any of the five preceding years to correct:

(1) clerical errors that affect a property owner's liability for a tax imposed in that tax year;
(2) multiple appraisals of a property in that tax year;
(3) the inclusion of property that does not exist in the form or at the location described in the appraisal roll; or
(4) an error in which property is shown as owned by a person who did not own the property on ...

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