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Lucio v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

June 29, 2017

MARCOS LUCIO D/B/A LIGHTHOUSE CREDIT SOLUTIONS, Appellant,
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee.

         On appeal from the 430th District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Longoria and Hinojosa.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROGELIO VALDEZ Chief Justice.

         Appellant Marcos Lucio d/b/a Lighthouse Credit Solutions ("Lucio" and "Lighthouse, " respectively) appeals the trial court's rendition of default judgment against Lucio. Lucio contends that appellee, State of Texas (the State) failed to obtain effective service upon Lucio. Lucio argues the court never obtained in personam jurisdiction whereby it could render a judgment against him. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background

         Marcos Lucio operated Lighthouse Credit Solutions, a credit repair business, in Hidalgo County, Texas. Utilizing internet and radio advertisements, Lighthouse Credit Solutions guaranteed customers that it could improve their credit ratings. Lucio's business, however, was not properly registered as a credit services organization, and Lucio failed to perform according to his business's guarantees. On February 8, 2011, the State filed its original petition and application for temporary and permanent injunction against Lucio for violations of Chapter 393 of the Texas Finance Code, see Tex. Fin. Code § 393.001-.628 (West, Westlaw through Ch. 34 2017 R. S.), and the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, see Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 17.41-.63 (West, Westlaw through Ch. 34 2017 R. S.).

         The trial court signed an agreed final judgment and permanent injunction. The permanent injunction prohibited Lucio from (1) engaging in business as a credit services organization unless he holds a credit services organization certificate of registration and bond; (2) advertising, offering for sale, selling, or distributing a credit repair service to the public unless he holds a credit services organization certificate of registration; and (3) misrepresenting-either orally or in writing, directly or by implication-any fact material to a consumer's decision to purchase any credit repair service.

         Asserting Lucio violated the injunction, the State filed a motion for contempt and petition for violation of permanent injunction against Lucio on March 11, 2015. Alleging it attempted service five times, the State moved for substitute service of process on April 27, 2015. The trial court granted the motion that same day.

         On April 28, 2015, the State amended its motion for contempt and petition for civil penalties for violation of permanent injunction against Lucio. On May 1, 2015, the district court set a show cause hearing for May 27, 2015. The State contends it served Lucio twelve days later with (1) the notice to show cause, (2) the order resetting the show cause hearing, and (3) the State's amended contempt motion through one of Lucio's employees at Lucio's place of business. Lucio failed to appear in court on May 27, 2015, and the State proceeded on its amended contempt motion, seeking civil penalties and injunctive relief. The trial court heard the evidence, and on May 29, 2015, the trial court signed a judgment of contempt and permanent injunction against Lucio.

         Lucio was served with a copy of the judgment for contempt on June 9, 2015, and he filed a notice of restricted appeal on July 15, 2015.

         II. Discussion

         By his first issue, Lucio contends that the trial court did not have in personam jurisdiction over him because the State failed to deliver effective service.

         A. Standard of Review

         Whether a Texas court has personal jurisdiction is a question of law, which we review de novo. BMC Software Belgium, N.V. v. ...


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