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Wiggins v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

May 3, 2018

ELTON TODD WIGGINS, Appellant,
v.
MICHELLE SMITH, Appellee.

          On appeal from the 267th District Court of Victoria County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Benavides and Longoria

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORA L. LONGORIA Justice

         This is an appeal from an order granting appellee Michelle Smith's no-evidence and traditional motions for summary judgment in a breach of contract and fraudulent inducement dispute with appellant Elton Todd Wiggins. By seven issues, which we treat as one, Wiggins asserts that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of Smith. We reverse and remand.

          I. Background

         Wiggins states that he and Smith met in 2008 through a mutual friend. From June 2008 through September 2010, Wiggins issued checks to Smith, Smith's probate attorney, and Smith's son's attorney. Prior to issuing the checks, Wiggins alleges Smith agreed to reimburse him for the money he would loan her, either through her probate claim, if victorious, or from her profits from the sale of property she owned. After he learned the probate claim may be unsuccessful, Wiggins requested repayment. Smith did not repay Wiggins, claiming the money was a gift. Subsequently, Wiggins filed suit against Smith alleging breach of contract and fraudulent inducement. After some discovery had taken place, Smith was granted both no-evidence and traditional summary judgments. This appeal followed.

         II. Summary Judgments

         Wiggins argues that the trial court erred in granting Smith's motions for summary judgment because: (1) as a matter of law there was a contract between the parties; (2) there were issues of fact; (3) the grounds for granting the motion were not pleaded or presented by counsel; (4) at least some issues of fact were presented in an affidavit; (5) the checks marked as "loan" constitute a written agreement between the parties; (6) the regulation of loans by the Statute of Frauds applies only to financial institutions; and (7) appellee did not comply with the appropriate rules in filing their no-evidence summary judgment motion.

         A. Standard of Review

         1. No-Evidence Summary Judgment

         A motion for summary judgment may be brought on no-evidence or traditional grounds. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(c), (i). A no-evidence summary judgment is equivalent to a pretrial directed verdict, and we apply the same legal sufficiency standard on review. Guevara v. Lackner, 447 S.W.3d 566, 570 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2014, no pet.). We will affirm a no-evidence summary judgment if the record shows one of the following: (1) there is no evidence on the challenged element; (2) rules of law or evidence bar the court from giving weight to the only evidence offered to prove the challenged element; (3) the evidence offered to prove the challenged element is no more than a scintilla; or (4) the evidence conclusively establishes the opposite of the challenged element. Id. at 570-71 (citing City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 810 (Tex. 2005)). All that is required of the non-movant is to produce a scintilla of probative evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact on the challenged element. Forbes lnc. v. Granada Biosciences, lnc., 124 S.W.3d 167, 172 (Tex. 2003). Less than a scintilla of evidence exists when the evidence is 'so weak as to do no more than create a mere surmise or suspicion' of a fact. ld. More than a scintilla of evidence exists if it would allow reasonable and fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions. Id. When reviewing a no-evidence summary judgment, we "review the evidence presented by the motion and response in the light most favorable to the party against whom the summary judgment was rendered, crediting evidence favorable to that party if reasonable jurors could, and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not." Mack Trucks, Inc. v. Tamez, 206 S.W.3d 572, 582 (Tex. 2006) (citing City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005); Johnson v. Brewer & Pritchard, P.C., 73 S.W.3d 193, 208 (Tex. 2002)).

         2. Traditional Summary Judgment

         When reviewing a traditional summary judgment, we must determine whether the movant met its burden to establish that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c). We review the trial court's summary judgment de novo. Provident Life & Acc. Ins. Co. v. Knott, 128 S.W.3d 211, 215 (Tex. 2003). In order to prevail on traditional summary judgment claim, movant must show that: (1) no genuine issue of material fact exists and (2) he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. BCCA Appeal Grp. v. City of Houston, 496 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Tex. 2016). When reviewing a summary judgment, we take as true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant, and we indulge every reasonable inference and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's favor. Provident Life, 128 S.W.3d at 215 (citing Southwestern Elec. Power Co. v. Grant, 73 S.W.3d 211, 215 (Tex. 2002); Sci. Spectrum, Inc. v. Martinez, 941 S.W.2d 910, 911 (Tex. 1997)).

         B. Discussion

         1. No-Evidence ...


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