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Carnegie Homes & Construction, LLC v. Sahin

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

July 6, 2017

CARNEGIE HOMES & CONSTRUCTION, LLC, Appellant
v.
FUNDA SAHIN, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 133rd District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2014-04952-A

          Panel consists of Justices Higley, Bland, and Brown.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Jane Bland Justice

         This is an appeal from the trial court's summary judgment enforcing a settlement agreement. On appeal, Carnegie Homes and Construction, LLC contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Funda Sahin, who moved to enforce the settlement, because (1) the settlement agreement is unenforceable as a matter of law, (2) Sahin failed to show that she was entitled to specific performance, and (3) evidence that Sahin had "unclean hands" disqualified her from receiving equitable relief. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Funda Sahin bought a home from Carnegie Homes. Soon thereafter, Sahin complained about various construction defects, and Sahin became dissatisfied with Carnegie Homes's apparent unwillingness to make repairs. She sued Carnegie Homes and its officers for breach of contract, common-law and statutory fraud, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. [1] Sahin claimed that Carnegie Homes failed to disclose multiple defects in the Property, including toxic mold, leaks, doors that did not lock, and a bedroom ceiling that was caving in.

         The parties mediated their dispute and reached a settlement, in which Carnegie Homes agreed to buy back the Property from Sahin. The parties first documented the settlement as a Rule 11 agreement. Later, they prepared and executed a more formally drawn, final agreement. When the deadline for closing on the Property passed without any action from Carnegie Homes, Sahin amended her pleadings and sought specific performance of the terms of the final settlement agreement. She moved for summary judgment on these claims, and the trial court granted her motion.

         The Rule 11 agreement obliges Carnegie Homes to:

• purchase the Property from Sahin for $637, 500.00, which it will pay at the closing of the Property;
• hold the closing related to the sale of the Property between August 19, 2015 and September 1, 2015;
• pay all closing costs except for prorated property taxes; and
• if the closing is delayed beyond September 1, 2015, make all mortgage and escrow payments (taxes and insurance) related to the Property from September 2, 2014 through the date of closing.

         The Rule 11 agreement further provides that:

• in exchange for Carnegie Homes's payment of $637, 500.00, Sabine will sign a mutual release of claims, dismiss all claims against Carnegie Homes and the Guptas with prejudice, and assign any third-party claims she may have to Carnegie Homes;
• each party will bear its own attorney's fees and court costs;
• the settlement documents will be completed within 30 days of the parties' acceptance of the mediator's proposal;
• the parties will attempt to resolve any dispute with regard to the interpretation or performance of the agreement with the mediator; and,
• if litigation is brought to construe or enforce the agreement, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover attorney's fees as well as costs and expenses, including the cost of mediation.

         Carnegie Homes's counsel next drafted a Full and Final Settlement and Release Agreement based on the terms set forth in the Rule 11 agreement. Both ...


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