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Araiza v. Bumb

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

August 8, 2019

BECKY ANN ARAIZA, AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF ANA MARIE CAUDILLO, Appellant
v.
LAWRENCE V. BUMB; I DON'T KNOW BAR; AND WARNER FAMILY, L.L.C., Appellees

          On Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 Hays County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 17-0649-C

          Panel consists of Justices Wise, Jewell, and Hassan.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KEVIN JEWELL JUSTICE

         Appellant Becky Ann Araiza appeals a no-evidence summary judgment dismissing her claims. Araiza argues that the trial court erred in granting appellees' motions because she reached a rule 11 agreement settling the lawsuit, and she is entitled to enforce the agreement. Because we conclude that Araiza failed to prove an enforceable rule 11 agreement exists, we affirm the trial court's judgment.[1]

         Background

         Ana Marie Caudillo sued appellees Lawrence Bumb, I Don't Know Bar, and Warner Family, L.L.C. for injuries she allegedly sustained while on the premises of I Don't Know Bar. Caudillo passed away during the pendency of this suit, and Araiza, as the representative of Caudillo's estate, substituted as plaintiff.

         Appellees filed no-evidence summary judgment motions on Araiza's claims. In her response, Araiza did not address the merits of appellees' summary judgment arguments but instead contended that the court could not grant the requested relief for an independent legal reason: Caudillo previously settled her claims with appellees. Araiza attached evidence in support of her argument that a settlement agreement existed. Araiza also filed a motion to enforce the purported settlement agreement under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 11.[2]

         The trial court denied Araiza's motion to enforce the settlement agreement and granted summary judgment in favor of appellees.

         Araiza timely appealed.

         Analysis

         In a single issue, Arazia argues that the trial court erred in refusing to enforce the parties' rule 11 settlement agreement and in granting appellees' no-evidence summary judgment motions.

         We review a summary judgment de novo. Travelers Ins. Co. v. Joachim, 315 S.W.3d 860, 862 (Tex. 2010). A no-evidence summary judgment motion is essentially a motion for a pretrial directed verdict; it requires the nonmoving party to present evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact supporting each element contested in the motion. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(i); Timpte Indus., Inc. v. Gish, 286 S.W.3d 306, 310 (Tex. 2009). A nonmovant may defeat a no-evidence motion for summary judgment by arguing that the motion fails as a matter of law, see Nelson v. SCI Tex. Funeral Servs., Inc., 484 S.W.3d 248, 253 (Tex. App.- Eastland 2016), aff'd, 540 S.W.3d 539 (Tex. 2018), such as, like here, by arguing that a settlement of the parties' dispute precludes the court from granting the relief requested in the motion, see Yellowe v. Wilson, No. 01-10-00764-CV, 2011 WL 6015676, at *3 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 1, 2011, no pet.) (mem. op.).

         We review a trial court's decision regarding enforcement of a settlement agreement for an abuse of discretion. See Riggins v. Hill, No. 14-09-00495-CV, 2011 WL 5248347, at *7-8 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 3, 2011, pet. denied) (mem. op.); Staley v. Herblin, 188 S.W.3d 334, 336 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, pet. denied). Under this familiar standard, we determine whether the trial court acted without reference to any guiding rules and principles. Sampson v. Ayala, No. 14-08-01002-CV, 2010 WL 1438932, at *4 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] ...


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