JAMES CASTILLE, BONNIE CASTILLE, WILLIAM T. MOORE, III, LINDA MOORE, ORAN HALL, AND CAROL HALL, Appellants
SERVICE DATSUN, INC., Appellee
Appeal from the 122nd District Court Galveston County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 14-CV-0468
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Jennings and
James Castille, Bonnie Castille, William T. Moore, III, Linda
Moore, Oran Hall, and Carol Hall, challenge the trial
court's judgment, entered after a jury trial, in favor of
appellee, Service Datsun, Inc. ("Service Datsun"),
in appellants' declaratory-judgment action against Service
Datsun. In four issues, appellants contend that the evidence
is factually insufficient to support the jury's negative
finding against them and the trial court erred in granting
Service Datsun affirmative declaratory relief, awarding it
attorney's fees,  and not properly instructing the jury on
interpreting deed restrictions.
affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.
their petition, appellants alleged that they own certain real
property in the Gulfview subdivision in Galveston County,
Texas. When platted, "certain restrictions, conditions
and covenants were declared to apply to all property situated
within the subdivision." Two of the restrictions read as
• "No shacks, tarpaper building paper covering,
tarpaper covered buildings, tin buildings, housetrailers,
outhouses, (commonly called privies), old buses, old cars and
junk shall . . . be placed upon any of the land covered by
this instrument unless changed by the parties hereto."
• "The parties hereto agree that the street
designated as Kahla Drive . . . shall be designated a public
road and remain open to the beach for all persons owning
property along the same."
further alleged that Service Datsun owns certain property in
the Gulfview subdivision. In violation of the above
restrictions, it has installed and operates a recreational
vehicle park ("RV park") on its property, renting
"spaces" and certain recreational vehicles
("RVs") to other third-parties. The restrictions
specifically "prohibit the placement of
'housetrailers' on lots within" the Gulfview
subdivision, and Service Datsun's use of its property as
an RV park "significantly inhibit[s] the use of Kahla
Drive by other property owners" and has significantly
impacted the values of their properties and their use and
enjoyment of their properties.
sought a declaration that the Gulfview subdivision
restrictions prohibit Service Datsun's "continued
use of its property for the placement or rental of
[RVs]" and such use "constitutes a violation of
those restrictions." Appellants requested attorney's
fees and a permanent injunction, requiring Service Datsun to
"completely remove the offending [RVs] and/or RV [p]ark
from its property" and "cease conducting activities
[that are] prohibited by the Gulfview subdivision
first amended answer, Service Datsun generally denied
appellants' allegations and asserted certain affirmative
defenses. It also counterclaimed for declaratory relief,
requesting attorney's fees and seeking a declaration
about "the validity, or legal effect, of the deed
restrictions" and that "the continued operation of
[its RV] park is not prohibited or restricted by" any of
the Gulfview subdivision restrictions.
trial, the trial court admitted into evidence of the Gulfview
subdivision restrictions, which include the following:
2. No cows, hogs, cattle, goats or horses shall be housed,
stabled or pastured thereon.
3. Any cabin or resident building erected shall cost not less
than $3000[.]00 and contain in area not less than 500 square
feet of floor space.
4. The front line of the body of any residence or cabin which
may be erected on the property shall be at least 25 feet from
the front property line or street right-of-way line unless
changed by either of the parties hereto in this instrument.
5. All sewage shall be disposed of in a manner which shall
not be offensive to other persons and which shall not be in
violation of public health laws and shall be contained in
septic tanks which drain into a covered drainage field. No
flows nor over-flows from sewage shall be permitted to flow
into adjoining properties, ditches or streets or roadways.
6. No shacks, tarpaper building paper covering, tarpaper
covered buildings, tin buildings, housetrailers, outhouses,
(commonly called privies), old buses, old cars and junk shall
. . . be placed upon any of the land covered by this
instrument unless changed by the parties hereto.
7. All cabins or residences shall be completed on the outside
within one year from the date started and must be a minimum
of 7 feet above ground level on pier foundations and must be
finished on the outside by paint, stain, asbestos siding or
8. No trash and garage shall be burned except in metal or
masonry containers and all trash and garage shall be kept in
covered cans in a sanitary condition.
9. The parties hereto reserve the right to modify, change[, ]
alter, or convey any part or portion of the land described in
this instrument to which this is an attachment without
restrictions, and make such changes in these restrictions as
each term advisable.
10. The parties hereto agree that the street designated as
Kahla Drive . . . shall be designated a public road and
remain open to the beach for all persons owning property
trial instructed the jury to answer the following question:
Question No. 1
Did Service Datsun fail to comply with paragraphs 6 or 10 of
You must decide whether or not the term "house
trailers" in paragraph 6 of the restrictions applies to
Service Datsun's use of its property.
Answer Yes or No[.]
the jury answered "No" to Question No. 1, it did
not answer the two remaining questions about Service
Datsun's affirmative defenses.
on the jury's response to Question No. 1, the trial court
entered judgment in favor of Service Datsun, concluding that
it was "entitled to judgment declaring that its use of
its property as an RV park in the Gulfview [s]ubdivision does
not constitute a violation of the restrictive covenants of
said subdivision." The court ordered that appellants
"take nothing [in] their suit, " declared that
Service Datsun's "use of [its property in] the
Gulfview [s]ubdivision, Crystal Beach, Galveston County,
Texas, as an RV park does not violate the restrictive
covenants pertaining to the subdivision." And it awarded
Service Datsun attorney's fees in the amount of $15, 000
for trial, $7, 500 in the event of an appeal to the court of
appeals, $3, 500 in the event that a petition for review is
filed with the Texas Supreme Court, and $7, 500 if the
petition is granted.
their first issue, appellants argue that the trial court
erred in granting Service Datsun affirmative declaratory
relief because the jury's negative answer to Question No.
1 "meant only that [appellants had] failed to carry
their burden to prove a breach [by Service Datsun] of the
Gulfview [subdivision] restrictions" and "could not
support any affirmative declaratory relief" in favor of
Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act ("DJA") generally
permits a person who is interested under a deed or other
contract, or whose rights, status, or other legal relations
are affected by a statute or contract, to obtain a
declaration of rights, status, or other legal relations
thereunder. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
37.004(a) (Vernon 2015). The purpose of the DJA is "to
settle and to afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity
with respect to rights, status, and other legal relations;
and it is to be liberally construed and administered."
Id. § 37.002(b) (Vernon 2015); see also
Garcia v. Am. Home Mortg. Serv., Inc., No.
01-13-00359-CV, 2014 WL 3408701, at *3 (Tex. App.-Houston
[1st Dist.] July 10, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.) ("A
declaratory-judgment action is a procedural vehicle that can
be used to resolve a wide variety of legal disputes.").
review declaratory judgments under the same standards as
other judgments and decrees and look to the procedure used to
resolve the issue at trial to determine the appropriate
appellate standard of review. See Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code Ann. § 37.010 (Vernon 2015); City of
Galveston v. Giles, 902 S.W.2d 167, 170 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, no writ). Our review of a
trial court's entry of judgment on a jury verdict is a
question of law that we review de novo. Arbor Windsor
Court, Ltd. v. Weekley Homes, LP, 463 S.W.3d 131, 136
(Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, pet. denied); see
also In re Humphreys, 880 S.W.2d 402, 404 (Tex. 1994)
("[Q]uestions of law are always subject ...