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Tyson v. Freeman

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

December 6, 2017

Robert TYSON, Carl and Kathy Taylor, Linda and Ron Tetrick, and Ruthie Nilson, Appellants
v.
Robert N. FREEMAN II, as Principal of Medina Livestock Sales Company, Ltd.; Las Aves; Corcat Enterprises, LC; Mary Freeman; and Listo Development, Ltd., Appellees

         From the 198th Judicial District Court, Bandera County, Texas Trial Court No. CV-13-0000356 Honorable M. Rex Emerson, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PATRICIA O. ALVAREZ, JUSTICE

         Appellants appeal several orders granting motions for summary judgment which dispose of all remaining parties and claims in the underlying cause. Appellants generally contend the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of each of the appellees because the appellants raised genuine issues of material fact sufficient to defeat the appellees' motions. Appellants also contend the trial court erred in relying on this court's prior opinion in Tyson v. Boren, Nos. 04-14-00824-CV & 04-15-00006-CV, 2015 WL 10382908 (Tex. App.-San Antonio Mar. 2, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.), to grant summary judgment in favor of Robert N. Freeman II, in his capacity as principal of Medina Livestock Sales Company, Ltd. Finally, Appellants complain the trial court erred in denying their request for findings of fact and conclusions of law. We reverse the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Robert N. Freeman II, in his capacity as principal of Medina Livestock Sales Company, Ltd., and affirm the orders granting summary judgment in favor of the other appellees.

         Background[1]

         Appellants filed the underlying petition alleging they are leaseholders who signed lifetime leases of lots in a senior citizen retirement community originally called "Las Aves Retreat, " where they could park an RV or motor home. They entered into the leases with Medina Livestock Sales Co., Ltd., a Texas limited partnership. Medina Ltd. sold Las Aves Retreat to El Viaje Retreat, LLC, which took over the leases. El Viaje LLC subsequently declared bankruptcy, and a bankruptcy judge ruled the appellants' leases were not enforceable and that El Viaje LLC could terminate the leases. Based on this ruling, El Viaje LLC sent the appellants letters terminating their leases.

         Appellants initially sued Robert N. Freeman II, both individually and as principal of Medina Ltd. They also sued two other individuals involved in the "initial management" of Las Aves Retreat. Robert and the two individuals filed motions for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The orders were subsequently severed from the original cause and affirmed by this court on appeal. Id. at *1. Our prior opinion noted, however, that Robert "moved for summary judgment on the individual claims against him." Id. We alternately described the only pending claims remaining in the original cause as "those against Freeman in his capacity as 'principal' of [Medina Ltd.]" and as the "claims against Medina Ltd." Id. at *1, *5 n.2.

         After our opinion issued, the appellants amended their pleading to add additional defendants, including Las Aves (the limited partner of Medina Ltd.), Corcat Enterprises, LC (the general partner of Medina Ltd.), Mary Freeman (Robert's wife), and Listo Corporation, Ltd. (an entity to which Medina Ltd. transferred the note it received from its sale of the Las Aves Retreat to El Viaje LLC). In their amended pleading, the appellants asserted claims for DTPA violations, common law fraud, statutory fraud, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, gross negligence, and fraudulent transfer. The amended pleading also contained alter ego allegations.[2]

         Robert filed a second motion for summary judgment asserting the appellants' claims against him were barred as a matter of law by the doctrines of (1) law of the case, (2) res judicata, and (3) collateral estoppel. The other appellees filed no evidence motions for summary judgment specifically challenging each separate element of each of the appellants' claims. The trial court signed separate orders granting each Appellees' motion. Each order contained identical language stating, "Defendant [individual name]'s No-Evidence Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby GRANTED." The appellants appeal.

         Standard of Review

         "We review a trial court's order granting summary judgment de novo . . . ." Cmty. Health Sys. Prof'l Servs. Corp. v. Hansen, 525 S.W.3d 671, 680 (Tex. 2017). "A [no evidence] motion for summary judgment must be granted if: (1) the moving party asserts that there is no evidence of one or more specified elements of a claim or defense on which the adverse party would have the burden of proof at trial; and (2) the respondent [fails to produce more than a scintilla of] summary judgment evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact on those elements." Sudan v. Sudan, 199 S.W.3d 291, 292 (Tex. 2006); accord Medistar Corp. v. Schmidt, 267 S.W.3d 150, 157 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2008, pet. denied). To prevail on a traditional motion for summary judgment, the movant must show "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the [movant] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c); accord Nixon v. Mr. Prop. Mgmt. Co., Inc., 690 S.W.2d 546, 548 (Tex. 1985). In reviewing a summary judgment, we take as true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant and indulge every reasonable inference and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's favor. Cmty. Health Sys. Prof'l Servs. Corp., 525 S.W.3d at 680.

         Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

         One of the issues the appellants raise on appeal is that the trial court erred in denying their request for findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Texas Supreme Court, however, has held "'findings of fact and conclusions of law have no place in a summary judgment proceeding.'" IKB Indus. (Nigeria) Ltd. v. Pro-Line Corp., 938 S.W.2d 440, 441 (Tex. 1997) (quoting Linwood v. NCNB Tex., 885 S.W.2d 102, 103 (Tex. 1994)). "The reason findings and conclusions 'have no place' in a summary judgment proceeding is that for summary judgment to be rendered, there cannot be a 'genuine issue as to any material fact, ' and the legal grounds are limited to those stated in the motion and response." Id. (citation omitted). "In other words, if summary judgment is proper, there are no facts to find, and the legal conclusions have already been stated in the motion and response." Id. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in denying Appellants' request for findings of fact and conclusions of law. See id.

         Traditional Summary Judgment ...


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