Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the 101st Judicial District Court Dallas County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. TX-15-02041
Justices Bridges, Partida-Kipness, and Carlyle
Investments, L.P. appeals the trial court's judgment in
favor of various taxing entities. The appeal involves facts
and legal issues related to those in MEI Investments,
L.P. v. Dallas Cty., et al., No. 05-18-00197-CV (Tex.
App.-Dallas April 2, 2019, no pet. h.) also decided today. In
five issues, appellant generally contends (1) the trial court
erred in admitting the affidavit of its principal into
evidence, (2) the presumption under section 33.47(a) of the
Texas Property Tax Code cannot be applied to it, and (3) the
evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the
trial court's judgment. For the reasons set forth below
and expressed in MEI Investments, we affirm the
trial court's judgment.
County, City of Seagoville, Dallas Independent School
District, Dallas County Community College District, Dallas
County School Equalization Fund, and Parkland Hospital
District filed suit against Public Autos, Ltd. d/b/a Public
Auto Sales (Public Autos) for delinquent ad valorem property
taxes for tax year 2014 and subsequent years which might
later become due. Attached to the petition as Exhibit
"A" was a delinquent tax statement with the heading
"George Carol E, 908 S. Buckner Blvd, Dallas, TX
75217-4505" and listing taxes on "Personal Property
Public Auto Sales, 1105 N. U.S. Hwy 175."
their second amended petition, the taxing entities added
appellant as a defendant in the lawsuit. According to Public
Autos' pleadings, appellant purchased Public Autos'
property "including personal property that is the
subject of the taxes in this lawsuit." Appellant filed a
general denial answer and a motion for summary judgment,
which the court denied. At the bench trial on their claims,
the taxing entities presented no live witness testimony and
instead relied on certified copies of delinquent property tax
statements, assumed name certificates and other public
documents pertaining to Public Autos, an affidavit of
appellant's principal, Hussein K. Mahrouq, as well as the
official records of the Dallas Central Appraisal
District. Appellant did not present any evidence on
its behalf. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial judge
rendered judgment against both Public Autos and appellant for
$18, 591.43 together with applicable penalties and
interest.This appeal ensued.
Admissibility of Affidavit
first issue, appellant challenges the trial court's
admission of the affidavit of its principal, Hussein K.
Mahrouq. The taxing entities offered Mahrouq's affidavit
and attachments to support their claim that appellant
purchased the personal property on which the tax liability in
this case was based. Appellant first submitted Mahrouq's
affidavit to the Court in support of its own summary judgment
motion. At trial, however, appellant objected to the
affidavit on the grounds that affidavits are not allowed as
evidence in contested proceedings unless permitted by statute
or rule. The trial court overruled the objection and admitted
the affidavit and attachments into evidence.
relevant part, the Mahrouq affidavit stated:
3. I was familiar with an automobile business which had
existed for many years in Dallas known as Public Auto Sales
("Public Auto"). . . .
7. MEI purchased the following assets of Public Auto:
a. Real property with the address of 908 S. Buckner Blvd,
Dallas, Texas. A true and correct copy of the February 3,
2015 contract for this property is attached hereto as Exhibit
b. Real property with the address of 905, 915 and 925 S.
Buckner Blvd, Dallas, Texas, as well as certain machinery,
office equipment and service vehicles described on Exhibit D
to the contract and intellectual property rights described on
an Addendum to the contract. A true and correct copy of the
March 25, ...