Appeal from the 129th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2016-12580
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Christopher and
appeal arises from a suit filed by Transamerica Corporation
of Houston against Braes Woods Condo Association seeking
declaratory judgment, a temporary restraining order, and
temporary and permanent injunctions. In the petition
Transamerica is alleged to be a corporation owned by Yigal
Bosch, who passed away on January 29, 2015. Bosch's son
David Bash was named administrator of Bosch's estate and
purports to bring suit on behalf of Transamerica. In the suit
Transamerica is alleged to own three condominium units in the
Braes Woods Condo Association. Transamerica alleged, among
other things, that Braes Woods is renting the units owned by
Transamerica and collecting rent. James O. Okorafor is the
attorney purporting to represent Transamerica.
Woods filed a counterclaim seeking to recover for breach of
an agreement made under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 11, in
which Braes Woods agreed to postpone foreclosure in exchange
for Transamerica's agreement to pay homeowners'
association fees. The trial court granted an interlocutory
summary judgment in favor of Braes Woods based on its
counterclaim for breach of contract and enforcement of the
Rule 11 agreement.
Woods subsequently filed a plea to the jurisdiction and
motion to show authority in which it asserts that
Transamerica does not have standing to sue Braes Woods
because it has no legally cognizable claim against Braes
Woods. In the plea Braes Woods alleges that no legal entity
named Transamerica Corporation of Houston exists, and that,
if it did, Bash does not have authority to represent
in the plea to the jurisdiction was a motion to show
authority filed under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure
In the motion Braes Woods alleged that James Okorafor, the
attorney who purports to represent Transamerica, did not have
authority to represent Transamerica in the suit. The trial
court held a hearing on the motion to show authority.
Okorafor did not respond to the motion, either in writing or
orally at the hearing. The trial court granted the motion to
show authority, struck Transamerica's pleadings, and
noted that the court's order disposed of all claims.
Okorafor filed a notice of appeal on behalf of Transamerica.
brief on appeal Transamerica argues that the trial court
lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Transamerica no
longer exists as a legal entity. Alternatively, Transamerica
argues that the trial court erred in granting summary
judgment to Braes Woods on its counterclaims. Neither
Transamerica nor Okorafor have complained on appeal about the
trial court's ruling on the motion to show authority.
of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure permits any party to
challenge an attorney's authority to prosecute or defend
a lawsuit. Tex.R.Civ.P. 12. The rule's primary purpose is
to enforce a party's right to know who authorized the
suit. Angelina Cnty. v. McFarland, 374 S.W.2d 417,
422-23 (Tex. 1964). The challenged attorney must appear
before the trial court to show the attorney's authority
to act on behalf of the client. Tex.R.Civ.P. 12; R.H. v.
Smith, 339 S.W.3d 756, 762 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2011, no
pet.). At the hearing on the motion, the challenged attorney
bears the burden of proof to show the requisite authority.
Smith, 339 S.W.3d at 762. When resolving the motion,
the trial court considers and weighs the evidence presented
at the hearing. In re Guardianship of Benavides, 403
S.W.3d 370, 376 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2013, pet. denied). A
challenged attorney may satisfy the burden by producing an
affidavit or testimony from the client indicating the
attorney was retained to provide representation in the case.
See In re Sassin, 511 S.W.3d 121, 125 (Tex. App.-El
Paso 2014, orig. proceeding).
issue before the trial court was whether Okorafor had
authority to represent Transamerica in the litigation. In
ruling on the motion to show authority, the trial court did
not address whether Transamerica or Bash had standing to
bring the suit. Okorafor presented no evidence that he had
authority to represent Transamerica. Therefore, Okorafor
failed to meet his burden of proof in the trial court.
See Smith, 339 S.W.3d at 762. On appeal, Okorafor
has not challenged the trial court's ruling striking
Transamerica's pleadings and finding that Okorafor does
not have authority to represent Transamerica.
appellant must challenge all independent grounds supporting
the judgment or legal conclusion under attack. Akhtar v.
Leawood HOA, Inc., 525 S.W.3d 814, 819 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, no pet.). Because Okorafor
and Transamerica do not challenge the ruling striking
Transamerica's pleadings and finding Okorafor has no
authority to represent Transamerica, we accept the
unchallenged finding and are bound by the trial court's
ruling. See Walker v. Schion, 420 S.W.3d 454, 457-58
(Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2014, no pet.).
Okorafor is not permitted to represent Transamerica in this
appeal. Transamerica is before this court without
representation by an attorney. Generally, corporations can
appear and be represented only by a licensed attorney.
Kunstoplast of Am., Inc. v. Formosa Plastics Corp.,
937 S.W.2d 455, 456 (Tex. 1996); see Tex. R. Civ. P.
7; Unauth. Practice of Law Comm. v. Am. Home Assur.
Co., 261 S.W.3d 24, 33 (Tex. 2008).
court will consider dismissal of this appeal unless
Transamerica files a response, through an attorney, on or
before May 4, 2018, showing meritorious grounds to continue
its appeal. See Bosch v. Harris County, No.
14-13-01125-CV; 2015 WL 971317 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] Feb. 26, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.) (affirming trial
court's ruling on Rule 12 motion and dismissing appeal).
Justice Frost respectfully dissents because (1) the trial
court's order granting the motion to show authority
addressed James Okorafor's authority to prosecute the
suit on behalf of Transamerica Corporation of Houston, Inc.
in the trial court in 2016; (2) this order does not address
James Okorafor's authority to prosecute this appeal on
behalf Transamerica in 2018; see Leonard v. Ivey,
No. 14-15-00908-CV, 2016 WL 7478374, at *10 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 29, 2016, pet. denied) (mem.
op.); (3) the proper procedure for appellee Braes Woods Condo
Association, Inc. to dispute Okorafor's authority on
appeal is to file a motion to ...