Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Thomas v. California Golden Coast, LLC

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

May 16, 2017

CARLA THOMAS AND EUGENE THOMAS, Appellants
v.
CALIFORNIA GOLDEN COAST, LLC, Appellee

         On Appeal from the County Civil Court at Law No. 4 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 1008525

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Brown and Lloyd.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SHERRY RADACK, CHIEF JUSTICE

         This 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.

         BACKGROUND

         Carla 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[1] and Nguyen Hoang Anh Corporation and provided that the lease would run from September 2003 through August 2008.

         The 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[2] charged each month. Unhappy with the CAM fee increases, the Thomases declined to extend their lease, which ended in August 2008.[3]

         In July 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.

         On 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]."

         Unable 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 record.

         Approximately 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.

         In 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.

         The 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.

         RIGHT TO SUE FOR DAMAGES ACCRUING WHILE CORPORATE CHARTER WAS FORFEITED

         In 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 time.

         Essentially, the Thomases argue that, because California Golden Coast's damages accrued while their corporate charter was forfeited, it has no ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.