Appeal from the 269th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2014-25698
consists of Justices Keyes, Brown, and Lloyd.
Russell Lloyd Justice
Star Energy, LLC is appealing the amount of damages awarded
to it for its conversion claim against TransProject, LLC
d/b/a Transgroup Worldwide Logistics. In a single issue,
Spinning Star argues that the trial court erred by applying
the wrong measure of damages to its conversion claim and
refusing to award Spinning Star the diminished value of the
converted property in addition to the property itself. We
modify the judgment and affirm as modified.
Star hired TransProject to receive, handle, and warehouse
twelve wind turbine generators that Spinning Star had
purchased from a Chinese manufacturer. When Spinning Star
began falling behind in its storage fee payments,
TransProject contracted with another company to sell the
turbines through an online auction held in December 2013.
Violet Rose Holdings, Ltd. purchased the turbines for $1,
140, 000.00 at the auction. Spinning Star did not learn about
the auction's conclusion until January 20, 2014.
Star sued TransProject for conversion, wrongful foreclosure,
and a declaratory judgment regarding the title and lien
status of the turbines. Because the amount of Spinning
Star's damages award for its conversion claim is the only
issue in this case, we will limit our discussion to facts
relevant to that claim.
bench trial in August 2016, the trial court found in favor of
Spinning Star on its conversion claim and awarded possession
of the turbines to Spinning Star as damages for its claim, as
Spinning Star had requested.
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the trial court
found, among other things, that the turbines had a fair
market value of $18, 760, 000.00 at the time of the
conversion and that the turbines' fair market value had
diminished by $3, 460, 000.00 since that time. Although
Spinning Star had also asked the court to award it the
turbines' diminution in fair market value as additional
damages for its conversion claim, the trial court concluded
that Spinning Star could not recover any money damages for
the fair market value of the turbines because it had opted to
recover possession of the turbines. The trial court also
concluded that although Spinning Star could recover
consequential loss-of-use damages for the period it was
deprived of possession of the turbines, Spinning Star had not
established that it had any such damages.
final judgment awarded Spinning Star the turbines as damages
for its conversion claim against TransProject, but not the
diminution-in-value damages that Spinning Star had requested.
This appeal followed.
for a Conversion Claim
sole issue in this appeal is whether the trial court applied
the proper measure of damages to Spinning Star's
conversion claim and correctly refused to award the
turbines' $3, 460, 000.00 diminished fair market value as
damages against TransProject.
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
the trial court applied the proper measure of damages is a
question of law, which we review de novo. Saulsberry v.
Ross, 485 S.W.3d 35, 51 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.]
2015, pet. denied); see also R.J. Suarez Enters. Inc. v.