Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
Lawrence W. SHIPLEY III, Appellant
Andrea VASQUEZ, Appellee
the 285th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2012CI12988 Honorable Richard Price, Judge
Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice Marialyn Barnard, Justice
Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice
Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice
February 26, 2016, a Bexar County jury found that Appellant
Lawrence W. Shipley III and Appellee Andrea Vasquez entered
into an oral agreement and Shipley subsequently breached that
agreement. The jury awarded Vasquez $216, 000.00 in damages
against Shipley. The trial court denied Shipley's motion
for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and it signed
the final judgment on April 18, 2016. Shipley appeals the
denial of his motion for JNOV.
we conclude the terms "take care of" and "like
a Shipley" in the parties' oral agreement are
indefinite as a matter of law, and there is no evidence that
makes the terms reasonably definite and certain, we reverse
the trial court's judgment pertaining to Vasquez's
breach of contract claim and render judgment that Vasquez
take nothing from Shipley on her breach of contract claim. We
affirm the portion of the judgment that orders Vasquez to
take nothing on her claims against Shipley Do-Nut.
and Procedural History
case stems from the on-again, off-again relationship between
Andrea Vasquez and Lawrence W. Shipley III, the president of
Shipley Do-Nut Flour & Supply, Co., Inc.
1996 to 1999: Relationship before Birth of L.N.S.
and Vasquez's relationship began in 1996. Vasquez, at
that time, was a single mother working as a substitute
teacher in the Harlandale Independent School District. The
two began dating after Vasquez requested Shipley Do-Nut
participate in a school fundraiser. After several months,
Vasquez began working for Shipley as marketing director for
Shipley Do-Nut's San Antonio operations. Vasquez contends
that, based on Shipley's encouragement, she allowed her
young son to live primarily with his father so that she could
move to Houston to live with Shipley.
1999, Vasquez and Shipley were living together in Houston.
Vasquez was working in the marketing department for Shipley
Do-Nut when she became pregnant. The relationship was rocky;
following a fight, Shipley fired Vasquez. Vasquez left
Houston and moved back to San Antonio. Vasquez, however,
continued to talk with Shipley and traveled several times to
Houston. Vasquez alleges that during one of these trips to
Houston, at Shipley's insistence, she reluctantly agreed
to terminate the pregnancy. However, after Shipley and
Vasquez arrived at the hospital, when Vasquez was alone with
the doctor, Vasquez changed her mind. She talked with a
social worker for a little while, and then the hospital gave
her a sedative so she could relax and go to sleep. When she
woke, she was in her hospital room alone, and Shipley had
placed her four pieces of luggage in her room. Shipley was
gone. Vasquez called her parents in San Antonio to pick her
up and take her back to San Antonio.
months into her pregnancy, Vasquez suffered a miscarriage. By
all accounts, Vasquez was devastated. Over the next couple of
months, Vasquez and Shipley attempted to reconcile. Vasquez
again flew to Houston to live with Shipley. On August 28,
1999, following another fight, Shipley left Vasquez at the
airport and bought her a ticket back to San Antonio. When
Vasquez arrived in San Antonio, instead of calling her
parents, she rented a car. By her own account, Vasquez left
the airport and stopped at the pharmacy to refill her
anti-anxiety medication. Vasquez does not remember anything
beyond driving on Highway 281 before she "blacked
out." Vasquez was involved in a car wreck in which a
person was killed. After several days in the hospital,
Vasquez was released. Shortly thereafter, Shipley called
Vasquez to see if she was okay. Vasquez and Shipley began
dating again and Vasquez moved back to Houston.
Birth of L.N.S.
November of 1999, Vasquez became pregnant again. Vasquez
moved back to San Antonio to live with her parents, and she
and Shipley continued to maintain a long-distance
of 2000, during the seventh month of her pregnancy, Vasquez
was charged with intoxication manslaughter for the August
1999 accident. Approximately one month later, Vasquez gave
birth, prematurely, to her daughter L.N.S. Beyond requiring a
little extra time at the hospital, L.N.S. and Vasquez
returned to live with Vasquez's parents. Six weeks later,
Vasquez and L.N.S. moved to Galveston so that they could be
closer to Shipley. In Galveston, Vasquez and L.N.S. regularly
saw Shipley. In March of 2001, Vasquez ended the relationship
when she learned Shipley was involved in another
of 2001, Vasquez entered a plea of no contest on the
intoxication manslaughter charge and was sentenced to
ten-years' confinement in the Institutional Division of
the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
of 2001, Shipley filed suit in Bexar County to establish
parentage. Vasquez and Shipley agreed Shipley would pay child
support of $600.00 per month. During her incarceration,
Vasquez's parents raised L.N.S. All parties agree that
Shipley paid the $600.00 per month to Vasquez's parents
throughout Vasquez's incarceration. Shipley did not
attempt to see L.N.S. at any point during this time period.
Vasquez testified her parents struggled to support L.N.S.
during this time.
Events between November 2008 and June 2012
Vasquez's release from prison in November of 2008,
Vasquez and Shipley again began talking. By this point,
Shipley was married and the father of two boys. The record
substantiates that Shipley voluntarily increased the monthly
child support payments for L.N.S. to $750.00 per month and
then to $1, 500.00 per month. Shipley also agreed to pay for
L.N.S.'s private school tuition. Vasquez contends Shipley
repeatedly rejected any meeting with L.N.S.
the summer of 2011, Shipley agreed that Vasquez and L.N.S.
should move out of her parents' house. Vasquez ...