Appeal from the 164th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2014-03635A
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Brown and
Radack Chief Justice
their bankruptcy proceeding concluded, appellants Christopher
and Rachael Vogler filed suit against appellee Pacific Life
Insurance Company, alleging that Pacific Life breached its
annuity contract with them by allowing a portion of their
annuity to be wrongfully garnished by a creditor, Icon Bank.
Pacific Life moved for summary judgment, alleging, among
other defenses, that the Voglers had no standing to pursue
their breach-of-contract claim against them because they did
not disclose its existence during the bankruptcy proceedings.
In two issues on appeal, the Voglers contend that the trial
court erred in granting Pacific Life's motion for summary
judgment and in denying their motion for new trial. We vacate
Vogler purchases an annuity from Pacific Life
August 1, 2006, Rachael Vogler bought an $800, 000 annuity
from Pacific Life. The annuity contract provides that it is
"exempt from the claims of creditors to the extent
permitted by law."
Bank garnishes the annuity
March 23, 2011, Icon Bank obtained a default judgment against
Rachael Vogler for the default of a promissory note. On April
7, 2011, Icon Bank filed an Application for Writ of
Garnishment against Pacific Life, as garnishee, for the sum
of $244, 251.34 plus interest. As a result of the
garnishment, Icon Bank obtained said amount from Rachael
Vogler's annuity contract at Pacific Life in late May
Voglers file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and an adversary proceeding
September 19, 2011, the Voglers filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
case. On Schedule C, the Voglers claimed that the remaining
$300, 468.34 of the Pacific Life Annuity was exempt property.
They also claimed an exemption valued at $250, 000 for the
"Claim against Icon Bank of Texas, N.A. for return of
portion of Pacific Life Insurance Company Variable Annuity
wrongfully garnished by creditor." Schedule C did not
list any potential lawsuit or claims against Pacific Life.
of their bankruptcy proceeding, the Voglers filed an
adversary bankruptcy proceeding against Icon Bank, asserting
claims for return of the garnished funds and a state-law
claim for wrongful garnishment. Again, no claims of any sort
were asserted against Pacific Life in the adversary
proceeding. On December 10, 2013, the bankruptcy court denied
the Voglers attempt to void the garnishment as a fraudulent
transfer under the bankruptcy code, but held that it would be
inappropriate to consider their state wrongful garnishment
claim and dismissed the adversary proceeding.
The remaining Chapter 7 case was closed on November 14, 2012.
No disposition was made regarding any potential claims
against Pacific Life.
Voglers file a breach-of-contract action against Pacific
2014, the Voglers filed the present lawsuit against both the
garnishor, Icon Bank, and the garnishee, Pacific Life. In
their First Amended Petition, they asserted claims against
Icon Bank for wrongful garnishment, and against Pacific Life
for wrongful garnishment, breach of contract, breach of
fiduciary duty, conversion, and conspiracy.
trial court grants Pacific Life's motion for summary
October 28, 2014, Pacific Life moved for summary judgment,
contending that the Voglers: (1) lacked standing because they
did not disclose their claims against Pacific Life during
their bankruptcy; (2) were judicially estopped from asserting
the claims against Pacific Life that were not included in
their bankruptcy schedules; and (3) their claims lacked merit
as a matter of law. On December 12, 2014, the trial court
granted Pacific Life's motion for summary judgment
without specifying the grounds for doing so.
February 5, 2015, the Voglers filed a motion for
reconsideration, which the trial court denied on February 18,
Voglers amend their ...