Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana
Submitted: May 10, 2017
Appeal from the 5th District Court Cass County, Texas Trial
Court No. 15-C-370
Morriss, C.J., Moseley and Burgess, JJ.
C. Moseley Justice
19, 2010, Gloria Douglas and Charlie Douglas, Jr., secured a
loan from First National Bank of Hughes Springs (Bank) to
purchase a 2010 Chevrolet automobile. On the same date and in
connection with their installment loan agreement with the
Bank, the Douglases signed an automatic transfer
authorization (ATA) form which permitted the Bank to make
automatic withdrawals of $686.10 per month from their joint
checking account and apply the sums to their installment loan
payment account. Under the terms of the ATA, the Bank was
given permission to continue to withdraw sums from the
Douglases' checking account until they gave the Bank
written notice to stop the withdrawals.
Douglases also purchased disability insurance provided by
Central States Health & Life Co. of Omaha (Insurance
Company), which would pay a maximum monthly disability
benefit of $686.10 to the Bank, as the creditor beneficiary,
in the event that either one of the Douglases became
disabled. It is undisputed that Gloria became disabled, the
Insurance Company made payments to the Bank as required by
the terms of the disability insurance coverage, the Bank
continued to withdraw sums from the Douglases' checking
account pursuant to the ATA, and the loan for the 2010 Chevy
Automobile was "effectively pa[id] off . . . in 30
months rather than 60 months."
response to receiving news from the Bank in May 2013 that
their loan was paid in full, the Douglases sued the Bank on
July 7, 2015, for violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices
Act (DTPA) and breach of an implied contract. In essence, the
Douglases claimed that the Bank's continuation of the
withdrawal of money from their checking account, even though
it was receiving the full amount of the monthly payment on
the loan from the Insurance Company, constituted "false,
misleading or deceptive" and "unconscionable"
actions that resulted in improper conversion of money from
their checking account.
Bank filed a traditional motion for summary judgment on its
affirmative defense that the two-year statute of limitations
barred the Douglases' DTPA causes of action. The trial
court granted the Bank's motion for summary judgment on
the limitations ground, and the Douglases do not argue that
the trial court erred in doing so. However, the Bank's
summary judgment motion also argued that the Douglases'
claim for breach of implied contract was barred by the
express terms of the ATA, and the trial court
agreed. Thus, in a single issue asserted on
appeal, the Douglases argue that the trial court erred in
granting summary judgment on their claim for breach of an
implied contract. Finding no error in the trial court's
decision, we affirm the judgment.
Standard of Review
grant of a trial court's summary judgment is subject to
de novo review by appellate courts. Provident Life &
Accident Ins. Co. v. Knott, 128 S.W.3d 211, 215 (Tex.
2003). In making the required review, we deem as true all
evidence which is favorable to the nonmovant, we indulge
every reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence, and
we resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's favor.
Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656,
661 (Tex. 2005).
entitled to traditional summary judgment, a movant must
establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact so
that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c); Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp
Advisors, Inc. v. Fielding, 289 S.W.3d 844, 848 (Tex.
2009). Once the movant produces evidence entitling it to
summary judgment, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to
present evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact.
Walker v. Harris, 924 S.W.2d 375, 377 (Tex. 1996). A
defendant who conclusively negates a single essential element
of a cause of action or conclusively establishes an
affirmative defense is entitled to summary judgment on that
claim. Frost Nat'l Bank v. Fernandez, 315 S.W.3d
494, 508-09 (Tex. 2010).
Douglases argued that the Bank had an implied contractual
duty to terminate automatic payments under the installment
loan agreement once it started receiving disability benefits
as creditor beneficiary. "Generally, a court looks only
to the written agreement to determine the obligations of
contracting parties." Universal Health Servs., Inc.
v. Renaissance Women's Grp., P.A., 121 S.W.3d 742,
747 (Tex. 2003). Thus, "[i]f the parties have expressly
stated the terms of their agreement, they have created an
express contract and are bound by it to the exclusion of
conflicting implied terms." Hiles v. Arnie &
Co., P.C., 402 S.W.3d 820, 832 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th
Dist.] 2013, pet. denied) (quoting Malallah v. Noble
Logistic Servs., Inc., No. 14-08-01030-CV, 2010 WL
343487, at *2 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Feb. 2, 2010,
pet. denied) (mem. op.); see Emmer v. Phillips Petroleum
Co., 668 S.W.2d 487, 490 (Tex. App.- Amarillo 1984, no
summary judgment evidence consisted of the terms of the ATA
and the Douglases' responses to the Bank's requests
for admissions. The ATA authorized a transfer from the
Douglases' checking account to their installment loan
payment account in the amount of $686.10 per month beginning