EDITH UGWU, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF JOYFUL HOMES, JOYFUL HOMES II, JOYFUL HOMES III, AND JOYFUL HOMES IV, Appellant
CHICHI EMMANUEL UGWU, Appellee
Appeal from the 328th District Court Fort Bend County, Texas
Trial Court Case Number 08-DCV-162390
consists of Justices Bland, Lloyd, and Caughey.
an appeal from a divorce proceeding in which the married
spouses also jointly owned a partnership that operated two
assisted-living centers. A jury found that the wife breached
their partnership agreement by depleting partnership assets
and setting up a competing business. The trial court then
heard the divorce claim. Based on the jury's findings,
the trial court ruled that the wife had committed fraud on
the community estate. It awarded the husband a
disproportionate share of the estate based on the amount
found by the jury.
appeal, the wife contends that the trial court erred in (1)
not permitting challenges for cause; (2) improperly charging
the jury on the partnership issue; and (3) dividing the
community property. We conclude that the wife has not
properly presented these challenges for appellate review and
and Edith Ugwu married in 1992. In 2004, they founded a
business to operate assisted-living centers for elderly and
disabled residents. At trial, Chichi testified that he and
Edith orally agreed that the business would be a general
partnership: each would own half of the business and share
equally in its profits and losses.
and Edith purchased two single-family homes in a residential
area in southwest Houston. Chichi, who was familiar with the
Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services'
compliance requirements, served as the facility coordinator
and Edith oversaw the day-to-day operations. Chichi prepared
the applications required to begin operating the centers,
known as Joyful Homes and Joyful Homes II, respectively. The
applications filed for the two centers identify the operator
to be a general partnership, with Edith and Chichi each
owning 50% of the business.
later, Edith revised the operating applications. In the
altered copies, she identified the operator of the homes to
be a "sole proprietor" and named herself as the
sole owner. Without telling Chichi, she filed these altered
documents with the Department of Aging and Disability
2007, Chichi discovered that Edith had made the alterations.
He sued her for breach of their partnership agreement and
sought injunctive relief in Harris County State District
Court. Chichi obtained a temporary injunction, which limited
Edith's control over Joyful Homes' assets. A few days
later, Edith petitioned for divorce in Fort Bend County.
told Chichi that she was winding down the business and
planned to discharge the clients and close the two Joyful
Homes locations. Instead, Edith violated the injunction by
transferring the clients to facilities operated by
acquaintances who helped Edith continue working with the
transferred clients without Chichi's knowledge. Edith
then filed applications to operate the Joyful Homes and II
locations under sole proprietorships named Joyful Homes III
and IV, so that she could conceal the operations from Chichi.
Edith closed the Joyful Homes bank account and moved the
funds into another account that Chichi could not access.
2016, the breach of partnership suit had been consolidated
with the divorce proceeding, with all of the claims pending
in the Fort Bend County State District Court. The parties
tried the breach of partnership claim to a jury. Edith
claimed that she and Chichi did not have a general
partnership and that Chichi's ownership interest existed
only through community assets that had been invested in the
business. The jury rejected that claim, finding that Edith
and Chichi entered into a general partnership "for the
assisted living centers called Joyful Homes, " that
Edith had failed to comply with the partnership agreement,
and that Chichi had sustained net lost profits of $142, 253.
trial court signed a final divorce decree in March 2017.
Among other things, the trial court found that Edith had
committed fraud on the community, which had depleted the
marital estate. It further ruled that "to achieve a just
and right division of the property" Chichi was ...