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Pruitt v. Scott

Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District

April 24, 2019

JOELLA D. PRUITT AND ALL OCCUPANTS OF 425 TIERRA LANE, WAXAHACHIE, TX 75167, Appellants
v.
PAMELA D. SCOTT, Appellee

          From the County Court at Law Ellis County, Texas Trial Court No. 18-C-3399

          Before Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Neill

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JOHN E. NEILL JUSTICE.

         In this forcible-entry-and-detainer action, appellants, Joella D. Pruitt and all occupants of 425 Tierra Lane, Waxahachie, Texas 75167, challenge a judgment entered in favor of appellee, Pamela D. Scott. Because we overrule all of appellants' issues on appeal, we affirm.[1]

         I. The Substitute Trustee's Deed

         In their first issue, appellants complain that the trial court abused its discretion by overruling their objection and admitting a conclusory portion of appellee's substitute trustee's deed. Specifically, appellants argue that the following portion of the substitute trustee's deed was conclusory and, thus, should not have been admitted: "Lender and Substitute Trustee have satisfied all requirements of the Deed of Trust and applicable law for enforcement of the power of sale contained in the Deed of Trust and for the sale of the Property . . . ."

         A. Applicable Law

         The admission or exclusion of evidence rests in the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed absent an abuse of that discretion. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. v. Malone, 972 S.W.2d 35, 43 (Tex. 1998). In determining whether there was an abuse of discretion, we must ascertain whether the trial court acted without reference to any guiding rules and principles. Downer v. Aquamarine Operators, Inc., 701 S.W.2d 238, 241-42 (Tex. 1985).

         For the admission or exclusion of evidence to constitute reversible error, the complaining party must show that: (1) the trial court committed error; and (2) the error probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment. Tex.R.App.P. 44.1; State v. Cent. Expressway Sign Assocs., 302 S.W.3d 866, 870 (Tex. 2009). We review the entire record to determine if the error probably resulted in the rendition of an improper judgment. Cent. Expressway Sign Assocs., 302 S.W.3d at 870. Typically, a successful challenge to a trial court's evidentiary ruling requires the complaining party to demonstrate that the judgment turns on the particular evidence excluded or admitted. Tex. Dep't of Transp. v. Able, 35 S.W.3d 608, 617 (Tex. 2000); City of Brownsville v. Alvarado, 897 S.W.2d 750, 753-54 (Tex. 1995).

         B. Discussion

         Assuming, without deciding, that the trial court erred by admitting the complained-of portion of the substitute trustee's deed, we cannot say that appellants have adequately explained how the admission of this evidence caused the rendition of an improper judgment in this forcible-detainer action.

         To prevail and obtain possession in a forcible-detainer action, the law requires appellees to show: (1) the substitute trustee conveyed the property by deed to appellees after the foreclosure sale; (2) the deed of trust signed by appellants established a landlord-tenant relationship between appellants and appellees; (3) appellees gave proper notice to appellants to vacate the premises; and (4) appellants refused to vacate the premises. U.S. Bank Nat'l Assoc. v. Freeney, 266 S.W.3d 623, 625 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2008, no pet.); see Tex. Prop. Code Ann. §§ 24.002(a)(2), (b), 24.005 (West 2014 & Supp. 2018).

         Furthermore, the First Court of Appeals has stated the following in a substantially-similar situation:

A plaintiff in a forcible detainer action is not required to prove title, but is only required to show sufficient evidence of ownership to demonstrate a superior right to immediate possession. Under well-settled law, a deed of trust that establishes a landlord-tenant relationship between the borrower and the purchaser of the ...

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