Appeal from the 189th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2015-11364
consists of Justices Christopher, Jamison and Donovan
(Jamison, J., concurring).
Akhtar brings this appeal from the trial court's judgment
signed April 1, 2016, granting "Defendant's Motion
to Strike All Plaintiff's Pleadings and Dismissal of
Case." In addition to striking appellant's pleadings
and dismissing his case, the trial court ordered appellant to
pay sanctions in the amount of $9, 300. In a single point of
error, appellant claims the trial court abused its discretion
because (1) there was no factual or legal basis for imposing
sanctions based on the information available at the time the
pleadings were filed in this case; (2) there was no
evidentiary hearing; (3) the trial court failed to state any
reason for the sanction in its orders; and (4) the amount of
sanctions is excessive. We affirm.
and Procedural Background
HOA, Inc. ("Leawood"), is the homeowners'
association for Leawood Condominiums. Appellant owns several
Leawood Condominiums units. After the condominiums were
repaired from damages caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008,
Leawood attempted to collect a portion of the insurance
deductible from appellant.
question of whether or not appellant owed the assessment was
litigated twice in the justice of the peace courts. In both
cases, the Justice of the Peace court ruled in favor of
Leawood. In each case, appellant appealed that judgment to
the appropriate County Court at Law ("CCL"). The
appeal to CCL No. 3, trial court cause number 1053687, was
filed on October 3, 2014. Following trial on March 10, 2015,
the trial judge of CCL No. 3 entered judgment against
appellant on June 23, 2015. The appeal to CCL No. 2, trial
court cause number 1053689, was tried and judgment entered
against appellant on July 23, 2015. That decision was
appealed and subsequently affirmed by the First Court of
Appeals. See Akhtar v. Leawood, HOA, Inc., 508
S.W.3d 758 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist] 2017, no pet.).
February 26, 2015, during the pendency of these other
proceedings, appellant filed suit against Leawood HOA, Inc.,
Nafisa Yaqoob and Werner Weiss (collectively
"appellees") in the 189th District Court (the
"trial court"), seeking relief from Leawood's
attempts to collect the assessment. On March 24, 2015,
appellees filed an answer and compulsory counterclaim that
informed the trial court of the proceedings in CCL Nos. 2 and
3. Appellees' counterclaim asserted affirmative defenses
including res judicata on the basis of the judgment in CCL
No. 3 and sought damages for filing a frivolous and baseless
cause of action, attorney's fees in the amount of $9,
300, and court costs of $150, as well as interest. Appellees
further filed a motion for sanctions and costs pursuant to
Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 13 and Chapter 10 the Texas
Civil Practice and Remedies Code. See Tex. R. Civ.
P. 13; Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 10.004,
10.005. Appellees requested sanctions of $9, 300 for
attorney's fees and $150 in court costs "to deter
this type of conduct and establish to the Plaintiff that the
filing of a frivolous complaint and/or lawsuit is a very
The signatures of attorneys or parties constitute a
certificate by them that they have read the pleading, motion,
or other paper; that to the best of their knowledge,
information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry the
instrument is not groundless and brought in bad faith or
groundless and brought for the purpose of harassment. . . .
If a pleading, motion or other paper is signed in violation
of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own
initiative, after notice and hearing, shall impose an
appropriate sanction available under Rule 215,  upon the person
who signed it, a represented party, or both. Courts shall
presume that pleadings, motions, and other papers are filed
in good faith. No sanctions under this rule may be imposed
except for good cause, the particulars of which must be
stated in the sanction order. "Groundless" for
purposes of this rule means no basis in law or fact and not
warranted by good faith argument for the extension,
modification, or reversal of existing law. . . .
Tex. R. Civ. P. 13. Section 10.004 provides, in pertinent
(a) A court that determines that a person has signed a
pleading or motion in violation of Section
10.001 may impose a sanction on the person, a
party represented by the person, or both.
(b) The sanction must be limited to what is sufficient to
deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by
others similarly situated.
(c) A sanction may include any of the following:
(3) an order to pay to the other party the amount of the
reasonable expenses incurred by the other party because of
the filing of the pleading or motion, including reasonable
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 10.004. Section 10.005
requires "[a] court shall describe in an order imposing
a sanction under this chapter the conduct the court has
determined violated Section 10.001 and explain the basis for
the sanction imposed." Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code
March 30, 2015, the trial court entered an order granting
"Defendant's Motion for Sanctions and Costs."
The order states "Plaintiff and his attorney filed no
response to the motion and it is deemed unopposed."
Appellees were awarded $9, 300 in attorney's fees and
$150 for court costs.
moved to vacate the order for lack of service. The trial
court granted the motion on May 15, 2015, stating its order
was "VACATED at this time and the Court may reconsider
if circumstances warrant doing so."
20, 2015, appellant filed a motion to consolidate his suit in
the trial court with his appeal from justice court pending in
CCL No. 2. Appellant's motion declares "[t]he
underlying matter in that Court is the collection of the
special assessment that are [sic] in issue in the case before
this Court. The parties are also the same." Further,
appellant's motion states that the trial court's
decision regarding appellees' authority to collect the
assessment and his obligation to pay them would ultimately
resolve all issues in the trial court and CCL No. 2.
Appellees opposed the motion and urged the trial court to
reconsider sanctions. The judgment of CCL No. 3 against