Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE ESTATE OF Maria L. RAYNES, Deceased
the Probate Court No. 2, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No.
2013PC0369 Honorable Tom Rickhoff, Judge Presiding
Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa,
Justice, Irene Rios, Justice.
Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice.
IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED
appeal and cross-appeal challenge a judgment entered by the
probate court after a jury trial. Appellant Leah Raynes
initially questions whether this court has jurisdiction to
consider the appeal, but she alternatively challenges various
findings and damage awards. Leah also challenges the award of
attorney's fees. Cross-appellant Arthur Raynes,
Independent Executor, contends the probate court abused its
discretion in failing to submit a jury question on the issue
Maria Raynes died on February 19, 2013, her will devised her
house to her five children. At that time, two of Maria's
children, Leah and Robert, were living in the house. A third
child of Maria's, Arthur, was appointed as independent
executor of Maria's estate and requested that Leah and
Robert vacate the house so it could be sold. Although Robert
moved out of the house, Leah did not.
March 10, 2015, Arthur filed a petition in his capacity as
independent executor asserting various claims, including a
request to evict Leah from the house. Leah filed an
application asking the probate court to order Arthur to sell
the house to her. The probate court's orders arising from
those proceedings were appealed to this court. This court
held the probate court abused its discretion in denying the
parties a jury trial on the material fact issues raised in
the underlying proceedings, including whether Arthur and Leah
reached an enforceable agreement regarding the sale of the
house. See In re Estate of Raynes, No.
04-15-00717-CV, 2016 WL 4208111, at *3 (Tex. App.-San Antonio
Aug. 10, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.). We also held the probate
court did not err in denying Arthur's eviction request,
noting Leah was a devisee under Maria's will and a
cotenant. Id. at 3-4.
remand, Arthur and Leah filed amended pleadings, and their
claims were tried to a jury which found the following:
• Arthur and Leah did not enter into a written agreement
for the purchase of the house;
• Leah ousted Arthur and the other co-heirs from the
house on February 23, 2015;
• the fair market rental value of the house on the date
of ouster was $1, 300 per month;
• Leah owed a debt to the estate for expenses paid by
the estate and co-heirs for utilities, taxes, repairs, and
insurance for the house in the amount of $10, 599; and
• a reasonable fee for the necessary services of the
estate's attorneys was $15, 000 for representation in the
trial court; $32, 000 for representation in the court of
appeals; and $32, 000 for representation in the Supreme Court
probate court rendered judgment based on the jury's
verdict, and Leah and Arthur appeal.
first issue, Leah questions whether this court has
jurisdiction to consider this appeal because not all issues
relating to the house were resolved by the probate
appeals may be taken only from final judgments." De
Ayala v. Mackie, 193 S.W.3d 575, 578 (Tex. 2006).
"Probate proceedings are an exception to the 'one
final judgment' rule; in such cases, 'multiple
judgments final for purposes of appeal can be rendered on
certain discrete issues.'" Id. (quoting
Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 192 (Tex.
2001)). In De Ayala, the Texas Supreme Court
reaffirmed the test for "determining whether an
otherwise interlocutory probate order is final enough to
qualify for appeal." Id. Under that test, a
probate court's order is interlocutory if it does
"not dispose of all parties or issues in a particular
phase of the proceedings." Id. at 579.
notes in her brief, however, the probate court's judgment
in this case was entered after a jury trial. Accordingly, the
judgment is presumed final for appeal purposes. N. E.
Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Aldridge, 400 S.W.2d 893, 897-98
(Tex. 1966); see also Krause v. White, 612 S.W.2d
639, 642-43 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1981, writ
ref'd n.r.e.) (applying Aldridge presumption in
an appeal from ...