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Autosource Dallas, LLC v. Addison Aeronautics, LLC

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

June 9, 2017


         On Appeal from the 191st Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-15-09506

          Before Justices Francis, Brown, and Schenck Opinion by Justice Schenck



         Appellants AutoSource Dallas, LLC ("AutoSource") and Robert Aicklen, Trung M. Tang a/k/a John Tang, and Chris Villanueva (collectively "Individual Defendants") appeal the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of appellee Addison Aeronautics, LLC ("Addison") in a suit Addison initiated against appellants alleging breaches of a commercial lease agreement and guarantees of performance. Appellants contend the judgment must be reversed because: (1) material fact issues exist as to the causation and damage elements of the breach of contract claim; and (2) the trial court should have granted appellants leave to file their late response to Addison's motion. We affirm the trial court's judgment. Because all issues are settled in law, we issue this memorandum opinion. Tex.R.App.P. 47.4.


         AutoSource entered into a commercial lease with 15500 Wright Bros., LP on May 2, 2011. The lease term was from May 15, 2011 to August 15, 2014. AutoSource occupied the leased property (the "Property") rent free for the first two months of the lease term.

         Addison acquired title to the Property in July 2013, subject to the existing lease. In June 2014, Addison and AutoSource entered into a Renewal and Amendment to Lease Agreement (the "Renewal Lease"), which, among other things, extended the lease term through August 2017. In addition, the Renewal Lease increased the monthly base rent from $10, 000 to $11, 500 and increased the security deposit from $10, 000 to $12, 000. The Renewal Lease also allowed either party to terminate the lease prior to August 2017 with six months' written notice. The Individual Defendants signed the Renewal Lease as guarantors.

         A few months after signing the Renewal Lease, AutoSource decided to wind down the business it was operating at the Property. At the end of October 2014, AutoSource exercised the termination option and gave Addison written notice of its intent to terminate the lease early, effective as of April 30, 2015. AutoSource vacated the Property during the last week of December 2014. AutoSource paid full rent through December 2014, paid $10, 000 towards rent in January 2015, and ceased making payments thereafter. As a result, Addison claimed AutoSource and the Individual Defendants, as guarantors of AutoSource's performance under the lease, owed unpaid rent of $36, 000 plus a ten-percent late charge. Thus, before offsets, Addison claimed unpaid rent and late fees totaling $39, 600.

         Addison secured a new tenant for the Property in February 2015, and entered into a new lease. The term of that lease began on January 30, 2015. The base monthly rent under the lease was $10, 500, with the first monthly payment due on April 1, 2015. Base rent for the first two months was abated, subject to being reinstated upon an event of default.

         Addison sued AutoSource for breach of the lease and sought to hold the Individual Defendants accountable on their guarantees. On January 22, 2016, Addison filed a motion for summary judgment. Addison initially set its motion for hearing on February 26, 2016. On February 9, 2016, appellants asked Addison to pass the scheduled hearing to allow them to conduct discovery they claimed they needed to adequately respond to the summary judgment motion. Addison agreed to do so and represented that it would not re-notice the hearing until after April 29, 2016, in exchange for appellants' agreement not to file a motion for continuance of a properly set hearing.

         Addison rescheduled the hearing on its motion to May 13, 2016, and sent notice of the new hearing date to appellants on April 30, 2016. Appellants responded to the motion two days before the hearing. The day before the hearing, they filed a motion for leave to file their late response. On June 7, 2016, the trial court signed an order granting Addison's motion and awarding Addison $17, 100, the amount Addison claimed was due and owing after crediting AutoSource with AutoSource's security deposit and the April payment it received from the new tenant. This appeal followed.

         Summary Judgment

         I. Standard of Review

         The standard of review in traditional summary-judgment cases is well established. Gonzalez v. VATR Constr. LLC, 418 S.W.3d 777, 782 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2013, no pet.). The issue on appeal is whether the movant met its summary-judgment burden by establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c). The movant bears the burden of proof and all doubts about the existence of a genuine issue of material fact are resolved against the movant. Nixon v. Mr. Prop. Mgmt. Co., 690 S.W.2d 546, 548-49 (Tex. 1985). All evidence and any reasonable inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Id. ...

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