Appeal from the County Civil Court at Law No. 4 Harris
County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 1008525
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Brown and
RADACK, CHIEF JUSTICE
case arises out of the breach of a commercial landlord-tenant
agreement. After a jury awarded the landlord, California
Golden Coast, LLC, damages for breach of contract and
attorney's fees against the tenants, Carla and Eugene
Thomas, the Thomases appealed contending that (1) California
Golden Coast is not entitled to damages because it did not
legally exist at the time the damages accrued; (2) all of the
damages accrued outside their applicable limitations periods;
(3) the damages awarded by the jury are inconsistent with the
evidence presented at trial; and (4) California Golden Coast
is not entitled to recover attorney's fees because it did
not present such claim before filing suit. We affirm.
and Eugene Thomas operated a child-care facility, EC Learning
Academy, which was located in a commercial strip center on
Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Houston, Texas. The original
lease was between the Thomases and Nguyen Hoang Anh Corporation
and provided that the lease would run from September 2003
through August 2008.
strip center was sold several times, and California Golden
Coast became the property owner in October 2006. California
Golden Coast could not and did not change the baseline rental
fee. However, it did increase the Common Area Maintenance
["CAM"] fee charged each month. Unhappy with the CAM
fee increases, the Thomases declined to extend their lease,
which ended in August 2008.
2008, just before the termination of lease, California Golden
Coast forfeited its corporate charter by failing to pay
franchise taxes. California Golden Coast's corporate
privileges were reinstated on May 15, 2009.
February 2, 2010, counsel for California Golden Coast (and
original lessor, Nguyen Hoang Anh Corporation) sent a demand
letter to the Thomases on behalf of Nguyen Hoang Anh
Corporation, seeking payment of "unpaid rentals and
damages." The letter also provided, "In the event
of litigation, my client will seek attorney[']s fees
under Texas Civil Practice Remedies Code Chapter 38 and under
[the provisions of the lease agreement]."
to resolve their dispute with the Thomases, in 2010, Nguyen
Hoang Ahn Corporation, the original leaseholder, filed suit
against them in the 295th District Court of Harris County.
Nguyen Hoang Ahn Corporation voluntarily dismissed this suit
on January 20, 2012. This is not in the record on appeal, but
neither party disputes it, and it is a matter of public
two weeks later, on January 30, 2012, California Golden Coast
filed the present suit against the Thomases in Harris County
Civil Court at Law No. 4, asserting the same claims made in
the previous lawsuit.
September 2015, the case was tried to a jury. Four questions
were presented to the jury: (1) did the parties have an
agreement, (2) did the Thomases breach that agreement, (3)
what sum of money would compensate California Golden Coast
for that breach, including loss of the rent, late charges,
CAM fees, and damages causes by removal or destruction of
property, and (4) attorney's fees.
jury returned a verdict on these questions awarding
California Golden Coast, $0 in unpaid rent, $0 in late
charges, $7250 in CAM fees, $3150 in property damage, and
$4500 in attorney's fees. The trial court signed a final
judgment based on the jury verdict, and this appeal followed.
TO SUE FOR DAMAGES ACCRUING WHILE CORPORATE CHARTER WAS
their first issue, the Thomases contend that:
Appellee, which is a corporation, did not legally exist
during any period when recoverable damages allegedly accrued,
and there was never any legally or factually sufficient
evidence to establish that Appellee ever acquired a right to
sue for damages that allegedly arose during that period of
the Thomases argue that, because California Golden
Coast's damages accrued while their corporate charter was
forfeited, it has no ...