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Carlo Motors Inc. v. Santos

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

August 7, 2019

Escillas DE LOS SANTOS, Appellee

          From the County Court at Law No. 3, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2018CV05541 Honorable David J. Rodriguez, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Beth Watkins, Justice Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice



         Appellee Escillas De Los Santos obtained a no-answer default judgment for breach of contract and violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("DTPA") against Appellant Carlo Motors, Inc. ("Carlo Motors"). On appeal, Carlo Motors claims the trial court erred when it: (1) denied Carlo Motors' motion for new trial; and (2) granted default judgment for unliquidated damages not supported by evidence. Carlo Motors also complains that De Los Santos's attorney represented Carlo Motors in a previous suit and this conflict of interest entitles Carlo Motors to a new trial.


         On September 19, 2017, De Los Santos entered into a written contract to purchase a vehicle for $18, 451 from Carlo Motors. De Los Santos took possession of the vehicle and began making monthly payments. Several months after De Los Santos purchased the vehicle, he informed Carlo Motors that he would cease making payments unless the title of the vehicle was transferred to his name. The next day, Carlo Motors repossessed the vehicle even though De Los Santos was current on his payments.

         On September 11, 2018, De Los Santos filed suit against Carlo Motors claiming Carlo Motors breached their contract by failing to transfer title and repossessing the vehicle. De Los Santos also alleged Carlo Motors knowingly and intentionally violated the DTPA-entitling him to treble damages, attorney's fees, and court costs. Carlo Motors was properly served citation on September 21, 2018, and its answer was due by 10:00 AM on October 15, 2018.[1] On October 18, 2018, the trial court signed a no-answer default judgment in favor of De Los Santos granting all requested damages and relief against Carlo Motors. Later that same day-after De Los Santos obtained the default judgment-Carlo Motors filed its original answer.

         On November 13, 2018, Carlo Motors filed its first motion for new trial. The trial court held a hearing and denied the motion for new trial on November 16, 2018. On December 26, 2018, Carlo Motors filed a second motion for new trial. On January 10, 2019, Carlo Motors also filed a motion to disqualify De Los Santos's attorney. Carlo Motors' second motion for new trial and motion to disqualify counsel were both dismissed by the trial court for want of jurisdiction because they were filed after the trial court's plenary power had expired.[2] Carlo Motors appeals.

         Waived Arguments

         Carlo Motors attempts to argue on appeal that filing an answer on the same day the trial court enters a default judgment-albeit after the default judgment was already entered-entitles it to a new trial. Carlo Motors also attempts to argue, for the first time on appeal, that De Los Santos's attorney previously represented Carlo Motors in another matter and this conflict of interest entitles it to a new trial.

         An appellant's "brief must contain clear and concise argument for the contentions made, with appropriate citations to authorities and to the record." See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1(i). An appellant waives any issues that are not adequately briefed because nothing is presented for our review when the appellant fails to cite relevant authority, provide relevant citations to the record, or provide substantive analysis of the issue raised in the brief. Olivarri v. Olivarri, No. 04-17-00477-CV, 2018 WL 2418467, at *2 (Tex. App.-San Antonio May 30, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

         Here, Carlo Motors does not cite the record or any legal authority supporting the issues it raises regarding its answer and the alleged conflict of interest. Carlo Motors simply does not address these issues in its brief other than stating the issues in the "Issues Presented" portion of its brief. Therefore, Carlo Motors has waived these issues.

         Motion For New Trial

         We must next determine whether the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Carlo Motors' motion for new trial. The trial court does not abuse its discretion unless the defaulting party establishes all three elements of the test set forth in Craddock v. Sunshine Bus Lines, Inc., 133 S.W.2d 124 (Tex. [Comm'n Op.] 1939). Dolgencorp of Tex., Inc. v. Lerma, 288 S.W.3d 922, 926 (Tex. 2009) (per curiam). Under Craddock and its progeny, a default judgment should be set aside when the defaulting party establishes: (1) the failure to appear was not intentional or the result of conscious indifference, but rather the result of accident or mistake; (2) the motion for new trial sets up a meritorious defense; and (3) granting the motion will occasion no undue delay or otherwise injure the party taking the default judgment. Id. at 925 (citing Craddock, 133 S.W.2d at 126). "The historical trend in default judgment cases is toward the liberal granting of new trials." Tex. Sting, Ltd. v. R.B. Foods, Inc., 82 S.W.3d 644, 650 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2002, pet. denied). "When a defaulting party moving for ...

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