Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE ESTATE OF Barbara R. DEAN, Deceased
the County Court, Jim Wells County, Texas Trial Court No.
7344 Honorable Homero Garza, Judge Presiding
Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice, Rebeca C. Martinez,
Justice, Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice.
C. Martinez, Justice.
Dean Brillhart appeals the trial court's judgment
enforcing a Rule 11 agreement, asserting: (1) the proper
procedure for obtaining a judgment based on a breach of a
Rule 11 agreement was not followed; (2) if the proper
procedure was followed, the evidence is insufficient to prove
the appellee's breach of contract claim; and (3) the
terms of the judgment vary from the terms of the Rule 11
agreement. We reverse the trial court's judgment and
remand the cause for further proceedings.
Dean Hendricks, a beneficiary of the Estate of Barbara R.
Dean, sued Ruth Dean Brillhart, the independent executrix of
the Estate, asserting various causes of action including
forgery and breach of fiduciary duty. After eight days of
trial, on September 28, 2015, the parties reached a
settlement and dictated the terms of a Rule 11 settlement
agreement into the record. One of those terms required
Brillhart to deposit $250, 000.00 in the registry of the
court on October 12, 2015, if the parties had not finalized
the terms of the settlement documents. It is undisputed
Brillhart did not deposit the funds into the court's
registry; however, the reason she refused to make the deposit
September 12, 2016, Hendricks filed a motion to enforce the
Rule 11 agreement, asserting Brillhart had "failed to
abide by the Rule 11 Agreement in its entirety."
Hendricks cited a case holding a claim for breach of
settlement agreement could be asserted in a motion to enforce
and requested the trial court to enter a final judgment
enforcing the settlement agreement.
October 25, 2016, Brillhart filed a response to
Hendricks's motion, asserting she did not deposit the
funds into the court's registry because Hendricks was not
negotiating the settlement documents in good faith. Brillhart
also asserted she had filed a separate lawsuit against
Hendricks seeking enforcement of the Rule 11 agreement.
Finally, Brillhart asserted Hendricks had failed to tender
performance which was a necessary element of her breach of
October 27, 2016, the trial court held a hearing on the
motion to enforce, and the attorneys and the trial court
spent a great deal of time discussing the terms of the
settlement as dictated in the record, the parties'
subsequent actions, and the trial court's options. During
the hearing, Hendricks's attorney presented a proposed
judgment to the trial court which had not been provided to
Brillhart's attorney. In response to the portion of the
proposed judgment finding Brillhart breached the Rule 11
agreement, Brillhart's attorney argued a factual dispute
existed with regard to the breach of the settlement
agreement, Brillhart was allowed a trial on the issue of
breach, and she had not been given a trial. Finally, after
the parties and the trial court discussed various problems
with the language of the proposed judgment and various
objections made by Brillhart to its provisions, the following
MR. RAYFIELD [Brillhart's attorney]: There was no setting
for motion to enter judgment today, so I did want to make it
clear on the record that we're not participating in this
hearing by agreement. I didn't even know you were going
to enter a judgment, which apparently you're doing right
now, is what you're doing is signing a judgment.
THE COURT: Plaintiff's Motion to Enforce Rule 11
Agreement was set for hearing today.
MR. RAYFIELD: That's correct, Your Honor, and the reason
that they haven't followed pleadings and proof, and there
is a jury demand in the case, so we really don't feel
that they have properly pled nor proven their case. They
haven't showed that they could tender performance,
they've never shown tendered performance, so they
can't attempt to go through it at this point, Your Honor.
So I just wanted to make sure the Court knew our position. I
didn't want someone to appeal, if it got appealed to say,
oh, no, they agreed to have the motion for entry of judgment
heard because, you know, we didn't. That's all
I'm saying Judge.
MR. TOWLER [Hendricks's attorney]: Your Honor, I will
point to the Plaintiff's Motion to Enforce Rule 11
Agreement, the one that was filed on or about September 12th,
under the request for relief. "Enforce the Rule 11
Agreement by entering final judgment against ...