Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
MARIO ALBERTO TALAVERA, SR. D/B/A PRO COLLISION AND AUTO REPAIR APPELLANT
QUALITY CHOICE AUTO SALES LLC APPELLEE
COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 2 OF WISE COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
WALKER, MEIER, and BIRDWELL, JJ.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
Mario Alberto Talavera, Sr. d/b/a Pro Collision and Auto
Repair (Talavera, Sr.) appeals the trial court's judgment
for appellee Quality Choice Auto Sales LLC (Quality Choice).
In three issues, Talavera, Sr. contends that we should
reverse the judgment because Quality Choice's pleading
does not support it, because the trial court did not have
jurisdiction over him, and because the evidence is legally
and factually insufficient to support the judgment. We reject
all of these contentions and affirm the trial court's
Cantu owns Quality Choice. Talavera, Sr. owns Pro Collision
and Auto Repair. According to Cantu's testimony, in June
2015, Quality Choice bought a 2014 Ford Mustang for $6, 495,
financing the entire amount. Quality Choice entered into an
agreement with Talavera, Sr. for Talavera, Sr. to repair the
car, for the repaired car to be resold at an auction, and for
Quality Choice and Talavera, Sr. to split the profits.
Sr. arranged for the car to be towed to his shop, and Quality
Choice wired him $3, 000 to complete the repairs. After some
time passed, Talavera, Sr. told Cantu that he could not
repair the car because he had to get another job. Cantu asked
for the return of the car and the $3, 000, and when Talavera,
Sr. returned neither, Cantu hired counsel and sent Talavera,
Sr. a demand letter. He still did not respond, so Cantu paid
a company $400 to repossess the car. The car was in pieces;
it had a frame and a disconnected suspension, engine, and
transmission. Cantu reassembled the car and paid a company
$685 to tow it to Lubbock so that it could be sold at an
auction. The car sold at the auction for $3, 500 less a $175
seller's fee. Quality Choice paid the balance-$3, 325-to
the company that had financed the original purchase.
November 2015, Quality Choice filed a petition in a Wise
County justice court against Mario Alberto Talavera, Jr.
(Talavera, Jr.) d/b/a Pro Collision and Auto
Repair. The petition alleged that Quality Choice
had bought a Ford Mustang, that Quality Choice and
"Mario Talavera" had agreed for Pro Collision and
Auto Repair to "make necessary repairs" to the car,
that Quality Choice had wired Talavera $3, 000 to complete
the repairs, that Talavera had failed to complete them, that
Quality Choice had repossessed the car from Talavera, and
that Quality Choice had been damaged by Talavera's
actions. A constable served a citation by certified mail in
February 2016; the citation states that the constable served
it on "Mario Alberto, " and the return receipt
associated with the citation, although addressed to Talavera,
Jr., states that it was received by Talavera, Sr. and
contains his signature. Talavera, Sr. filed a handwritten,
signed answer stating, "I Mario Talavera disagree with
lawsuite [sic] . . . in Wise County court. Quality Choice
Auto Sales vs. Mario Talavera."
justice court's judgment-a civil case disposition sheet
signed in March 2016 by the justice court judge-reflects that
Talavera, Sr. appeared with his wife and that the justice court
awarded Quality Choice $8, 117.16, comprising $6, 054.16 in
damages, $1, 922 in attorney's fees, and $141 in court
costs. The justice court ordered that for Talavera, Sr. to
appeal, he would need to post a bond for twice the amount of
Sr. appealed the justice court's judgment to the trial
court. In Talavera, Sr.'s notice of appeal, he contended
that he had not been properly sued or served with citation
and that the justice court had never obtained jurisdiction
over him. Talavera, Sr. filed a statement of his inability to
afford payment of court costs or an appeal bond, and Quality
Choice contested Talavera, Sr.'s claim of inability to
pay. In May 2016, the justice court held a hearing on the
contest. The justice court found that Talavera, Sr.
was able to afford the appeal bond; the court's order
recites that he had appeared for the hearing but that he had
"failed to bring or show proof of income, tax returns,
and all assets." The trial court later overruled Quality
Choice's contest and allowed Talavera, Sr. to proceed
without posting an appeal bond.
trial court, Talavera, Sr. contested the court's
jurisdiction over him and asked the trial court for dismissal
of the suit. The parties extensively briefed the issue, and
after holding a hearing, the trial court found that it had
Sr. appeared for trial through counsel but not personally.
After the trial court conducted a bench trial and received
the parties' evidence and arguments, it signed a judgment
for Quality Choice. The trial court's judgment awarded
Quality Choice $8, 352.76, trial-court attorney's fees of
$25, 677.50, and additional attorney's fees conditioned
on Talavera, Sr. appealing and on Quality Choice prevailing
in such an appeal. The trial court made the following
findings and conclusions (among others):
4. . . . [Quality Choice] purchased a [Ford Mustang] . . .
for a total cost of $6, 495.00
. . . .
7. . . . [Talavera, Sr.] entered into an oral agreement with
[Quality Choice] under which [Quality Choice] would wire
[Talavera, Sr.] $3, 000.00 (for vehicle parts), in exchange
for [Talavera, Sr.] to arrange to have the Vehicle hauled to
his property and to make necessary repairs to the Vehicle
within two (2) weeks. After
[Talavera, Sr.] repaired the Vehicle, it was to be sold at
[an] auction[, ] . . . and [the parties] were to equally
split the proceeds from the sale.
. . . .
13. . . . [Talavera, Sr.] accepted and received the $3,
000.00 from [Quality Choice].
. . . .
16. . . . [T]he Vehicle remained on [Talavera, Sr.'s]
Property and minimal repairs were done to the Vehicle.
. . . .
18. . . . [Talavera, Sr.] told [Quality Choice] he could not
work on the Vehicle because he had to get another job.
[Quality Choice] asked for the $3, 000.00 and ...