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Morris v. Morris Shockley

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

April 22, 2019

DANIEL JASON MORRIS, Appellant
v.
KRISHA MARIE VALK MORRIS SHOCKLEY, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 256th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DF-15-12962

          Before Justices Myers, Molberg, and Carlyle

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LANA MYERS, JUSTICE.

         This case involves a suit to enforce a divorce decree. Daniel Jason Morris appeals the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Krisha Marie Valk Morris Shockley. Morris brings two issues contending the trial court erred by granting Shockley's motion for summary judgment because the summary judgment motion was a collateral attack on the divorce decree, and he brings one issue contending the trial court erred by denying Morris's objections to the affidavit of Don Valk, Shockley's father. Besides these stated issues, Morris also contends the trial court erred by granting Shockley's no-evidence motion for summary judgment because he presented some evidence supporting the element of his cause of action challenged by Shockley, and he also contends the trial court erred by awarding Shockley her attorney's fees. We conclude the trial court properly granted Shockley's no-evidence motion for summary judgment but that the trial court erred by awarding costs and attorney's fees for collection and enforcement of the judgment. Accordingly, we modify the judgment in part and affirm the judgment as modified.

         BACKGROUND

         Shockley and Morris were married in 2003. Shockley's father, Valk, purchased, built, and operated self-storage facilities. Morris worked with Valk to build some of Valk's self-storage facilities, including one on Highway 67 in Duncanville.

         Shockley and Morris were divorced in 2011. The divorce decree contained the following provision:

Future Property Interests
Should Petitioner's father, Don Valk, sale [sic] the storage facility located at 303 E. Hwy. 67, Duncanville, Texas, the parties agree and IT IS ORDERED that the net proceeds from the sale of the aforementioned property shall be as follows, 34% to Don Valk; 33% to KRISHA MARIE VALK MORRIS [Shockley]; and 33% to DANIEL JASON MORRIS.

         Although this provision in the divorce decree purported to state that Shockley and Morris had an interest in the net proceeds from a future sale of the Duncanville facility, Valk owned the facility, and he did not sign and was not a party to the divorce decree. Shockley and Morris did not have a written agreement with Valk giving them an interest in the net proceeds from a future sale of the facility.

         In 2015, Valk entered into an agreement to sell twenty-four self-storage facilities, including the Duncanville facility, to Extra Space Storage for approximately $192.9 million. Part of the compensation was not in cash but consisted of about 1.5 million "OP Units."

         While the sale was pending, Morris's attorney sent a letter to Shockley and Valk stating, "Mr. Valk had promised Mr. Morris 33% of the proceeds from sale of the Property as consideration for Mr. Morris's assistance in constructing mini storage facilities." The attorney asked to know the date of the sale and inquired whether Valk intended to keep his promise to Morris. The attorney attached a copy of a motion to enforce the divorce decree he intended to file if Valk did not agree to share the proceeds with Morris. The motion to enforce requested an injunction barring the sale until Valk and Shockley agreed to share the proceeds as required by the divorce decree. Valk's attorney replied to Morris's attorney, stating that Valk owned the property and that neither Morris nor Shockley or their entities had any right, entitlement, or interest in the property. A few days later, Valk's attorney wrote back to Morris's attorney stating that if Morris intended to litigate Morris's claim for the proceeds of the Duncanville facility, then Valk would "withdraw this property from the sale and seek to resolve Mr. Morris' claims through litigation." Morris's attorney responded that he had not been authorized to file suit on behalf of Morris.

         The sale, including the Duncanville facility, closed on April 14, 2015, and Valk received all the consideration for the transaction.

         In July 2015, Morris filed a motion to enforce the divorce decree asking the court to enter an order awarding him "33% of all net proceeds from ...


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