Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ryan Construction Services, LLC v. Robert Half International, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

November 16, 2017


         On Appeal from the 334th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2014-14437A

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Donovan and Wise.


          Kem Thompson Frost Chief Justice.

         When two companies discovered that a common employee allegedly had stolen money, they brought suit against the employee-placement firm, alleging negligence and Deceptive Trade Practices Act violations in connection with the firm's employee-background check. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employee-placement firm. We affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Accountemps, a division of appellee/defendant Robert Half International, Inc. specializes in placing accounting professionals with companies to work on a temporary-to-permanent basis. Judd Ryan, owner of appellant/plaintiff Ryan Construction Services, LLC and appellant/plaintiff Builders Blueprint, LLC contacted Robert Half International and asked for help finding an accounting professional to employ. Robert Half International representatives met with Ryan to discuss the company's services. Ryan stated that those representatives told him, "We check our people out. You are getting the best when you work with Accountemps." According to Ryan, the representatives showed him a form authorizing Robert Half International to perform background checks on candidates for potential employment.

         The Parties' Agreement

         Robert Half International recommended that Ryan Construction Services, LLC hire Angela Eubanks. Ryan signed an agreement with Robert Half International on behalf of Ryan Construction Services. On the date Robert Half International contracted with Ryan Construction Services to place Eubanks, Robert Half International sent a letter to Ryan Construction Services confirming Eubanks's placement under its "General Conditions of Assignment and Terms of Payment." Judd Ryan and Barbie Brown, on behalf of Ryan Construction Services, signed various time sheets acknowledging receipt and acceptance of the "General Conditions of Assignment and Terms of Payment." The General Conditions of Assignment included a section detailing the "Scope of Background Inquiries." This section describes the way Robert Half International checks references and also states: "We have not screened for drug use, administered a medical exam, conducted a criminal background check, or engaged in any verification process other than [the reference checks described above]."

         Temporary Placement to Permanent Placement

         Shortly after Eubanks began working at Ryan Construction Services, Ryan asked her if she also would work for another one of his companies, Builders Blueprint, LLC. Ryan did not disclose this employment to Robert Half International. A few months later, Ryan Construction Services informed Robert Half International that it wanted to convert Eubanks, who had been working as a temporary employee, to a permanent employee. Robert Half International sent Ryan Construction Services a letter confirming the end of Eubanks's temporary employment through Robert Half International and her conversion into a permanent employee of Ryan Construction Services. The letter stated that "Accountemps checks selected references on our candidates . . . and [t]o assist you in determining whether or not you should conduct any additional pre-employment background checks, we are enclosing a complimentary copy of What You Should Know About Background Checks." Ryan acknowledged he received the letter and enclosure.

         Robert Half International conducted a seven-year criminal history background check on Eubanks before she became a permanent employee of Ryan Constructions Services. That background check did not reveal any criminal history for Eurbanks. Robert Half International did not share the results of the criminal background check with Ryan Construction Services.

         Alleged Embezzlement by Placed Employee

         Ryan Construction Services and Builders Blueprint, LLC, (collectively, the "Ryan Parties") allege that at some point after Eubanks became a permanent employee, she embezzled approximately $160, 000. When Ryan discovered Eubanks had a criminal history, Ryan called Robert Half International to confront the company about recommending an employee with a criminal history and to report that the employee had stolen money from Ryan Construction Services. The Robert Half International representative told Ryan that Robert Half International had conducted a criminal background check that did not reveal any criminal history in the seven years preceding the check. The history the Ryan Parties had uncovered - Eubanks's conviction for securing execution of a document by deception - occurred thirteen years before the criminal background check.

         Plaintiffs' Claims

         The Ryan Parties filed suit against Robert Half International, its bank, and Eubanks. In their live pleading, the Ryan Parties alleged that Robert Half International (1) engaged in negligent or grossly negligent conduct in failing to inform them that Eubanks had a criminal conviction and (2) violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) by engaging in a false, misleading and deceptive course of conduct that led the Ryan Parties to believe Robert Half International had run a background check on Eubanks and that she had no criminal history, representing that Robert Half International's agreement had the benefit of a background check, failing to disclose that Robert Half International's background check included only the seven years before employment, failing to disclose that Eubanks had a criminal history, and acting unconscionably.

         Summary Judgment

         Robert Half International filed a lengthy summary-judgment motion that contained both traditional and no-evidence grounds. The Ryan Parties responded. The trial court granted Robert Half International's summary-judgment motion. Robert Half International then moved to sever the Ryan Parties' claims against Robert Half International from the claims the Ryan Parties asserted against the Ryan Parties' bank and Eubanks. The trial court granted the motion to sever the claims. Although the severance order contains language in which the trial court stated that the order would not be final until the parties submitted a new proposed judgment in the severed case, because the order granted severance and the trial court already had signed an order granting summary judgment on the claims in the severed case, the trial court's severance order finally resolved all claims among all parties in the severed case.


         The Ryan Parties now appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of Robert Half International. They challenge the merits of the summary judgment as well as the trial court's evidentiary rulings on the summary-judgment proof.

         Standard of Review

         In a traditional motion for summary judgment, if the movant's motion and summary-judgment evidence facially establish its right to judgment as a matter of law, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to raise a genuine, material fact issue sufficient to defeat summary judgment. M.D. Anderson Hosp. & Tumor Inst. v. Willrich, 28 S.W.3d 22, 23 (Tex. 2000). In reviewing a no-evidence summary judgment, we ascertain whether the nonmovant pointed out summary-judgment evidence raising a genuine issue of fact as to the essential elements attacked in the no-evidence motion. Johnson v. Brewer & Pritchard, P.C., 73 S.W.3d 193, 206- 08 (Tex. 2002). In our de novo review of a trial court's summary judgment, we consider all the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, crediting evidence favorable to the nonmovant if reasonable jurors could, and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not. Mack Trucks, Inc. v. Tamez, 206 S.W.3d 572, 582 (Tex. 2006). The evidence raises a genuine issue of fact if reasonable and fair-minded jurors could differ in their conclusions in light of all of the summary-judgment evidence. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Mayes, 236 S.W.3d 754, 755 (Tex. 2007). When, as in this case, the order granting summary judgment does not specify the grounds upon which the trial court relied, we must affirm the summary judgment if any of the independent summary-judgment grounds is meritorious. FM Props. Operating Co. v. City of Austin, 22 S.W.3d 868, 872 (Tex. 2000). Because the trial court did not specify a basis ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.