the County Court Hill County, Texas Trial Court No. 14, 170
Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Neill
E. NEILL JUSTICE
eight issues, appellant, Kathy Roux, challenges various
decisions made by the trial court in favor of appellees,
Dennis Pharris and Don D. Ford III dependent administrator of
the estate of Miriam Mae Pharris, pertaining to the estate of
Pharris. Because we cannot conclude that the trial court
abused its discretion in this matter, we affirm.
filed several motions to substitute as counsel for Dennis
Pharris, an alleged beneficiary of the Pharris estate, with
the latest motion signed by all relevant parties and filed on
September 1, 2016. The trial court granted Roux's motion
on September 2, 2016, thereby substituting Roux as
Dennis's counsel. On September 12, 2016, Roux filed a
motion to withdraw as counsel for Dennis. The trial court
granted Roux's motion to withdraw on September 13, 2016.
on December 5, 2016, Roux filed an application for payment of
attorney's fees, asserting that "she has rendered
necessary and reasonable legal services on behalf of the
Estate of MIRIAM MAE PHARRIS, Deceased . . . ."
Accordingly, Roux requested $5, 063.47 in attorney's fees
from the estate.
December 6, 2016, Ford, as dependent administrator of the
estate, filed an objection to Roux's application for
attorney's fees, arguing, among other things, that Roux
did not provide legal services on behalf of the estate;
rather, she provided legal services for Dennis, a person
allegedly interested in the estate. As such, Ford contended
that Roux should seek compensation from Dennis, not the
responded to Ford's objection, noting that she is
entitled to attorney's fees from the estate under section
351.003 of the Estates Code and section 37.009 of the Civil
Practice and Remedies Code because she was representing
Dennis in his attempt to secure the removal of Ford as
administrator of the estate. See Tex. Estates Code
Ann. § 351.003 (West 2014); see also Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 37.009 (West 2015). On
December 16, 2016, Roux also filed an "Application for
Emergency Intervention Regarding Funeral and Burial
Expenses," arguing that emergency intervention of the
trial court is necessary because the decedent's funeral
and burial expenses were paid by Wayne Knorr, who was not
reimbursed by Ford as administrator of the estate. Roux
sought $15, 026 from the estate to reimburse Knorr, as well
as her attorney's fees.
March 24, 2017, Ford, as dependent administrator of the
estate, filed a motion for sanctions against Roux for
bringing numerous frivolous pleadings in this case. Ford
argued that Roux filed her application for attorney's
fees on her own behalf, not on behalf of Dennis, and that she
did not render necessary and reasonable legal services on
behalf of the estate. Ford also argued that Roux is not
entitled to any attorney's fees because she never filed
any pleading seeking relief under section 351.003 of the
Estates Code or a declaratory judgment under section 37.009
of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. See Tex.
Estates Code Ann. § 351.003; see also Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 37.009. Finally, Ford
asserted that Roux's application for emergency
intervention was improper because she did not enter an
appearance on behalf of Knorr or purport to represent him in
this proceeding. In fact, Kara Pratt represented Knorr in
presenting his claim. Given the foregoing, Ford sought $2,
500 in sanctions and $7, 500 in attorney's fees under
Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 10 and 13, as well as sections
9.011, 10.001, and 10.002 of the Civil Practice and Remedies
Code. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 10, 13; see also
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 9.011,
10.001-.002 (West 2017).
hearing, the trial court entered an order of sanctions
against Roux on May 4, 2017. In its sanctions order, the
trial court granted Ford's motion and found that "a
sanction of $6, 800 in attorney's fees that the
Administrator incurred in responding to Roux's filings
and in bringing this Motion, and that such amount is just and
not excessive" and that an additional sanction of $2,
500 is "proper and necessary to deter such conduct in
the future, and that such amount is just and not
excessive." This appeal followed.
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
seventh issue, Roux contends that the trial court's
failure to give her notice of findings of fact and
conclusions of law prejudiced her and caused her harm. We
4, 2017, the trial court entered its sanctions order in this
case. Roux filed her request for findings of fact and
conclusions of law eight days later on May 11, 2017.
See Tex. R. Civ. P. 296 (noting that a request for
findings of fact and conclusions of law should be filed
within twenty days after the judgment is signed). Roux's
request for findings of fact and conclusions of law contains
a "REJECTED" stamp where the trial court was
supposed to sign.
light of the "REJECTED" stamp, Roux filed an
amended request for findings of fact and conclusions of law
on May 24, 2017. On the same day, the trial court filed a
letter with the District Clerk acknowledging Roux's
request for findings of fact and conclusions of law and
directing Ford to draft proposed findings of fact and
conclusions of law "so that the Court may review,
possibly adopt[, ] or add to the same." Ford filed
proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on June 7,
2017, which were not adopted or signed by the trial court.
the trial court had not yet entered findings of fact and
conclusions of law, Roux filed a notice of past due findings
of fact and conclusions of law on June 12, 2017. Thereafter,
on August 2, 2017, Roux filed her notice of appeal in this
case. On October 12, 2017, the trial court entered its
findings of fact and conclusions of law. See id. at
R. 297 ("The court shall file its findings of fact and
conclusions of law within twenty days after a timely request
is made."). Roux filed her appellant's brief on
March 23, 2018, after obtaining a copy of the Clerk's
Record on February 15, 2018.
Rules of Civil Procedure do not preclude a trial court from
issuing belated findings. See Robles v. Robles, 965
S.W.2d 605, 610 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1998, pet.
denied); see also United Heritage Corp. v. Black Sea
Invs., Ltd., No. 10-03-00139-CV, 2005 Tex.App. LEXIS
1280, at *13 (Tex. App.-Waco Feb. 16, 2005, no pet.) (mem.
Unless they can show injury, litigants have no remedy if a
trial court files untimely findings. . . . Injury may be in
one of two forms: (1) the litigant was unable to request
additional findings, or (2) the litigant was prevented from
presenting his appeal. . . . If injury is shown, the
appellate court may abate the appeal so as to give the
appellant the opportunity to request additional or amended
findings in accordance with the rules.
Robles, 965 S.W.2d at 610; see Beard v.
Beard, 49 S.W.3d 40, 52 (Tex. App.-Waco 2001, pet.
denied) (noting that a party suffers an injury from a refusal
to file findings of fact and conclusions of law "when
the circumstances of the case require her to guess the reason
or reasons the court ruled against her"). A trial court
may file additional findings even after it loses plenary
power to affect the judgment. Robles, 965 S.W.2d at
611. The failure to request additional findings and
conclusions constitutes a waiver on appeal of the trial
court's lack of such findings and conclusions.
on our review of the record, we are not convinced that Roux
suffered harm by the untimely entry of findings of fact and
conclusions of law in this case. First, the findings of fact
and conclusions of law articulate the reasons for the trial
court's sanctions order, thereby undermining any argument
that Roux would have to guess the reason or reasons the court
ruled against her. See Beard, 49 S.W.3d at 52.
Additionally, Roux admitted that she discovered the untimely
findings of fact and conclusions of law when she requested
the Clerk's Record on February 15, 2018. She had more
than a month to prepare her brief in this matter, which
negates any argument that she was unable to adequately
present her case to this Court. See Horizon Props. Corp.
v. Martinez, 513 S.W.2d 264, 266 (Tex. Civ. App.-El Paso
1974, writ ref'd n.r.e.) ("In any event, the law is
well settled that reversible error is not presented where the
findings of fact and conclusions of law are signed and filed
in time to be included in the transcript on appeal and the
appellant is not prevented from making a proper presentation
of his case on appeal . . . .").
extent the Roux asserts that she was harmed by an inability
to request additional findings of fact and conclusions of
law, we note that, when she obtained the Clerk's Record
and discovered the findings of fact and conclusions of law,
Roux did not request that this Court abate the appeal and
remand the case to the trial court with instructions to
prepare additional findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The failure of Roux to take this action waives any complaint
about her inability to request additional findings of fact
and conclusions of law. See Robles, 965 S.W.2d at
611. Accordingly, we overrule Roux's seventh issue.
Roux's Application for Attorney's Fees and her