CURTIS L. TERRELL, JR., TANYA A. WALL, AND LORNA K. FINCH, Appellants
ANGELA T. PRICE AND KEVIN HALE, Appellees
Appeal from the 151st District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2015-15566
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Jennings and
Curtis L. Terrell, Jr., Tanya A. Wall, and Lorna K. Finch,
challenge the trial court's order denying their motion to
compel arbitration in their suit against appellees, Angela T.
Price and Kevin Hale, for trespass to try
title. In their sole issue, appellants contend
that the trial court erred in denying their motion to compel
their second amended petition, appellants alleged that they
and Price were the fee simple owners and tenants in common of
real property described as Lot 19, Block 5, Forest Home
Addition, in Houston (the "property"). Price asked
appellants to sign a "two-page document, " which
she represented would authorize her to pay the property
taxes. After each appellant signed the document, Price
"added pages" to "convert it to a general
warranty deed conveying the property to herself." She
also added the acknowledgement of a notary public, Dottie R.
Smith,  who purportedly witnessed each appellant
signing the document. Appellants asserted that they did not
sign the document in Smith's presence, and Price
subsequently conveyed the property by general warranty deed
further alleged that "[b]oth deeds are void and/or
voidable" as Price procured the initial deed from them
by fraud. Further, Price's recording of the deed
constituted a cloud on their title to the property, and her
failure or refusal to remove the cloud was willful and
without justification or excuse. Appellants sought an order
declaring both deeds "void, " removing the cloud on
their title, and awarding them actual and exemplary damages
and attorney's fees.
answered, generally denying the allegations. Hale also
answered, generally denying the allegations, while also
specifically denying that appellants were entitled to
attorney's fees. Hale further asserted, as an affirmative
defense, that he was a bona fide purchaser. He also brought a
counterclaim against appellants and a cross-claim against
Price for breach of warranty of title.
January 5, 2016, the parties, after attending mediation,
entered into a settlement agreement, which they filed in the
trial court. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the
parties agreed to certain exchanges and distributions related
to the parties' lawsuit in Harris County Probate Court
No. 2,  to certain exchanges pertaining to the
instant trespass-to-try-title action, and that any dispute
over the terms of the agreement would be subject to binding
arbitration, as follows:
1. The parties agree to file a motion to abate the litigation
pending the resolution of the Estate of Willie Lee Barnes
[the "Estate"], currently pending as Cause 417417
in Probate Court No. 2, Harris County, Texas.
2. [Price] shall gift her interest in the real and personal
property in the Estate of Willie Lee Barnes to [appellants].
3. In exchange for the consideration given by [Price] in the
preceding paragraph, [appellants] agree that [Price] shall
receive cash from the Estate . . . .
4. [Terrell], as executor of the Estate, shall distribute the
remaining cash in the Estate to all beneficiaries in equal
portions. . . .
5. WFG National Title Insurance Company, as insurer for
[Hale], shall pay to attorney [for Price] $2, 500.00 . . . in
full and final settlement of all claims.
6. Upon distribution of the cash proceeds the parties shall
dismiss the pending lawsuit with prejudice.
7. The parties agree to cooperate to prepare and execute all
necessary documents to effect the terms of this agreement.
8. The parties agree that any dispute over the terms of
this agreement shall be subject to binding arbitration with
Judge Eric Andell.
9. The parties agree to do all things necessary to ensure
that clear title to the property [that is] the subject of
this suit is fully vested in [Hale].
. . . .
11. The parties agree to use good faith and best efforts to
complete all actions agreed to within this agreement ...