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Brooks v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

April 28, 2017

TIMOTHY BROOKS, Appellant
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Appellee

         On Appeal from the 162nd Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-14-13646.

          Before Justices Bridges, Evans, and Schenck

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID J. SCHENCK JUSTICE

         Appellant Timothy Brooks ("Brooks") appeals the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of appellee Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo") in a suit Brooks initiated to quiet title to certain real property (the "Property"). Brooks contends the judgment must be reversed because: (1) the order of dismissal is broader than the relief requested by Wells Fargo's motion; (2) Wells Fargo failed to support its motion with admissible evidence; (3) a fact issue exists; and (4) Wells Fargo cannot establish it has superior title to the Property. We affirm the trial court's judgment. See Tex. R. App. P. 43.2(c). Because all issues are settled in law, we issue this memorandum opinion. Id. 47.4.

         Background

         The record before this Court establishes the following. At one time, Brooks' parents co-owned the Property. Brooks' father died in 1974, at which point, Brooks' mother became the sole owner of the Property. On January 15, 1983, Brooks' mother conveyed the Property to Brooks. The public records include the filing on July 26, 1989, of a quitclaim deed by which Brooks conveyed all of his right, title, and interest in and to the Property back to his mother. That deed bears a notary acknowledgement on July 12, 1989, and a signature date of July 15, 1983.

         On February 22, 2000, Brooks' mother obtained a home-equity loan on the Property from New Century Mortgage by which she granted it a security interest in the Property and the power to sell the Property following a default on the loan. In 2003, she defaulted on the loan, and the Property was sold at foreclosure to T.R. Taylor, Inc.

         On July 29, 2004, T.R. Taylor, Inc. sold the Property to Allen R. Sheffield. In connection with the sale, Sheffield executed a deed of trust, which granted Summit Mortgage Corporation a security interest in the Property. The deed of trust included the power to sell the Property following a default on the loan.

         Thereafter, Brooks filed an eviction action against Sheffield and obtained a judgment from the justice court on November 14, 2005, awarding him possession of the Property as against Sheffield. On July 26, 2006, Brooks obtained a home-equity loan from Beneficial Texas, Inc., which was purported to be secured by a lien on the Property.

         Sheffield defaulted on his 2004 loan with Summit Mortgage Corporation, which had subsequently been transferred and assigned to Washington Mutual Bank ("WAMU"), and WAMU purchased the Property at a foreclosure sale on November 7, 2006. Thereafter, WAMU filed a forcible entry and detainer action against Sheffield and all other occupants of the Property, and obtained a judgment on February 19, 2007, awarding it possession of the Property. Brooks appealed that decision to the county court at law. On October 18, 2007, WAMU filed a separate suit against Brooks in the district court. Both the county court at law and the district court cases were stayed pending the resolution of the other. On December 5, 2012, the district court dismissed WAMU's case against Brooks having concluded WAMU no longer existed due to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's ("FDIC") take-over of its assets. The record does not show the status or disposition of Brooks' appeal of the judgment in favor of WAMU to the county court at law.

         On September 25, 2014, the FDIC, as receiver for WAMU, assigned Sheffield's deed of trust to Wells Fargo. And on October 13, 2014, JP Morgan Chase Bank, as attorney-in-fact for the FDIC, conveyed the Property to Wells Fargo.

         Wells Fargo then filed a forcible entry and detainer action against both Sheffield and Brooks. The justice court entered judgment in favor of Sheffield and Brooks, which was later reversed on appeal by the county court at law. Brooks appealed the county court at law's decision to this Court. That appeal is currently pending before this Court. See Brooks v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 05-16-00616-CV.

         On November 21, 2014, Brooks, as a pro se plaintiff, sued Wells Fargo to quiet title to the Property. Wells Fargo answered generally denying Brooks' allegations and asserting various defenses, including limitations. On January 7, 2016, Wells Fargo moved for summary judgment on no-evidence and traditional grounds. In support of its no-evidence motion for summary judgment, Wells Fargo asserted there is no evidence of Brooks' ownership interest in the Property, and no evidence that Wells Fargo's title to the Property is invalid or unenforceable. As grounds for traditional summary judgment, Wells Fargo asserted: (1) Brooks' quiet title suit is time-barred; (2) Brooks cannot demonstrate an ownership interest in the Property because the documents upon which he relies do not establish that Brooks has an ownership interest in the Property; and (3) Wells Fargo has superior title to the Property.

         On March 14, 2016, the trial court granted Wells Fargo's motion without specifying its reasons for doing so, and ordered "that all of the claims that Plaintiff Timothy Brooks ("Plaintiff") asserted or could have asserted against Defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in the above-referenced lawsuit are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE." Brooks filed a ...


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