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Famsa, Inc. v. Bexar Appraisal District

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

May 9, 2018

FAMSA, INC., Appellant
v.
BEXAR APPRAISAL DISTRICT, Appellee

          From the 45th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2017-CI-06465 Honorable Antonia Arteaga, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini, Justice Irene Rios, Justice.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice

         Famsa, Inc. ("Famsa") appeals the trial court's judgment confirming an arbitration award issued under Chapter 41A of the Texas Property Tax Code. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         Famsa protested the appraisal of its property before the Bexar County Appraisal Review Board ("ARB"). The ARB heard Famsa's protest and issued a no-change order. Pursuant to Chapter 41A of the Property Tax Code, Famsa elected to appeal the ARB order through binding arbitration. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts appointed an arbitrator, and the arbitrator sent a letter to Famsa and Appellee Bexar Appraisal District (the "District") advising them of his appointment and detailing the procedures that would govern the proceeding. Under the heading "Hearing Procedures, " the letter stated:

The burden of proof shall be on the property owner [Famsa]. The property owner shall have the right to open and close (to be heard first and last) the evidence and the right to open and close the argument, if any.

         The parties agreed to a documents-only hearing. There is no evidence in the record before us that Famsa raised any objection to the arbitrator's assignment of the burden of proof to Famsa.

         After the hearing, the arbitrator issued an Arbitration Determination and Award (the "Award"). The Award is a single-page form stamped with the seal of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The Award states the arbitrator's determination as follows:

Value assigned by the arbitrator . . . $465, 160.00
Dollar difference between value ordered by the appraisal review board and value determined by arbitrator . . . $0.00
Dollar difference between value provided by property owner and value determined by arbitrator . . . $264, 351.00
Amount of Arbitrator fee not to exceed 450.00 . . . $450.00

         Famsa subsequently filed suit in the trial court seeking vacatur of the arbitrator's valuation determination. Famsa filed a traditional motion for summary judgment arguing the arbitrator's assignment of the burden of proof to Famsa exceeded his powers and was misconduct or willful misbehavior that prejudiced Famsa's rights. The District filed traditional and no-evidence motions for summary judgment seeking confirmation of the Award. After hearing the parties' motions, the trial court entered an order granting the District's traditional and no-evidence motions. This appeal followed.

         Arbitration Awards and ...


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