Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
from the 97th District Court of Montague County, Texas
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
Oilfield Services, L.L.C. (TOS) appeals the judgment in favor
of Albert Clark. In eight issues, it challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence supporting the judgment. In a
single issue on cross appeal, Clark urges the trial court
erred in denying his claim for attorney's fees. We
reverse and render.
was employed by TOS in May 2015. His duties included
overseeing TOS's production operations crews. Clark
claims that he suffered heat stroke while working for TOS in
July 2015, which lead to the onset of seizures. Clark
contacted an attorney to pursue filing a workers'
compensation incident report. Shortly thereafter, according
to Clark, TOS terminated his employment.
sued TOS for (1) breaching his employment contract, and (2)
violating the Texas Labor Code by retaliating against him for
retaining counsel to pursue a workers' compensation
claim. Clark later moved for summary judgment, claiming
entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on both his breach
of contract and retaliatory discharge claims. TOS responded
to the motion. Clark filed a reply to TOS's response and
objected to TOS's summary judgment evidence. Following a
hearing, the trial court sustained Clark's objections to
TOS's evidence and granted summary judgment for Clark.
TOS appealed to this Court and we held that the summary
judgment was improper and fact issues existed on both
Clark's breach of contract and retaliatory discharge
claims. Accordingly, we reversed and remanded to
the trial court.
remand, Clark amended his petition to include a claim for
promissory estoppel. TOS filed a motion for summary judgment,
which the trial court granted in part. The trial court
ordered that Clark could not recover attorney's fees with
respect to his breach of contract and promissory estoppel
following presentation of evidence during a jury trial, TOS
moved for a directed verdict on all of Clark's claims.
The trial court granted TOS's motion with respect to the
malice portion of Clark's retaliatory discharge claim.
The remaining claims were submitted to the jury. The jury
found that (1) no employment contract existed between Clark
and TOS, and (2) TOS did not retaliate against Clark for
filing a worker's compensation claim or hiring an
attorney. However, the jury found in favor of Clark on his
promissory estoppel claim and awarded $81, 425.43 in damages
trial court entered judgment in accordance with the
jury's verdict. TOS filed a motion to disregard the
jury's findings on the promissory estoppel claims.
Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion but
reduced the amount of prejudgment interest. This appeal and
cross appeal followed.
of the Evidence
eight issues, TOS challenges the legal sufficiency of the
evidence supporting the jury's verdict and the trial
court's judgment. The first and second issues contend the
evidence is legally insufficient to support the damages award
for promissory estoppel. Issues three, four, five, six,
seven, and eight urge the evidence is legally insufficient to
support the elements of promissory estoppel. Because they are
dispositive, we address issues one and two first.
who challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence to
support an issue upon which it did not have the burden of
proof at trial must demonstrate on appeal that there is no
evidence to support the adverse finding. G.D. Holdings,
Inc. v. H.D.H. Land & Timber, L.P., 407 S.W.3d 856,
860 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2013, no pet.). When reviewing a no
evidence issue, we determine whether the evidence at trial
would enable reasonable and fair-minded people to reach the
verdict under review. City of Keller v. Wilson, 168
S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005). In making this determination, we
must credit favorable evidence if a reasonable finder of fact
could and disregard contrary evidence unless a reasonable
finder of fact could not. Id. If there is any
evidence of probative force to support the finding, i.e.,
more than a scintilla, we will overrule the issue. Haggar
Clothing Co. v. Hernandez, 164 S.W.3d 386, 388 (Tex.
estoppel is a cause of action recognized in Texas that
requires detrimental reliance on the part of the promisee.
See Garcia v. Lucero, 366 S.W.3d 275, 280 (Tex.
App.-El Paso 2012, no pet.). The elements of promissory
estoppel are (1) a promise, (2) foreseeability of reliance
thereon, and (3) substantial reliance by the promisee to his
action for promissory estoppel, the plaintiff can recover
only reliance damages. See Sun Oil Co. (Del.) v.
Madeley, 626 S.W.2d 726, 734 (Tex. 1981); Wheeler v.
White, 398 S.W.2d 93, 97 (Tex. 1965). The plaintiff is
limited to the damages required to restore him to his former
position. Fretz Constr. Co. v. S. Nat'l Bank of
Houston, 626 S.W.2d 478, 483 (Tex. 1981); Range v.
Calvary Christian Fellowship, 530 S.W.3d 818, 831 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, pet. denied). Reliance
damages are similar to out-of-pocket damages and reimburse a
plaintiff for expenditures made in reliance on the promise.
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