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Garza v. Robinson

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

August 27, 2019

ROBERTO MORALES GARZA, Appellant,
v.
BRYAN ROBINSON, Appellee.

          On appeal from the 445th District Court of Cameron County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Contreras and Justices Longoria and Perkes

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORA L. LONGORIA JUSTICE

         Appellant Roberto Morales Garza failed to file a timely response to appellee Bryan Robinson's motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Robinson. By one issue, Garza argues that the trial court erred by failing to grant his motion for new trial. We affirm.

         I. Background

         In September 2007, Garza executed and delivered a warranty deed to Robinson, conveying property on South Padre Island, in exchange for $170, 000. In August 2009, Garza filed suit against Robinson, alleging that Robinson had fraudulently induced him into selling the property. In October 2010, summary judgment was granted in favor of Robinson. Garza appealed the trial court's ruling to this Court. We concluded that "Robinson established his entitlement to summary judgment based on his statute-of-frauds affirmative defense." Garza v. Robinson, No. 13-11-00015-CV, 2013 WL 3326465, at *1 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi-Edinburg June 27, 2013, no pet.) (mem. op.) (concluding that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Robinson because Garza's evidence pertaining to whether the execution of the deed was induced by fraud was barred by the statute of frauds).

         Nevertheless, Robinson asserted that Garza refused to vacate the premises. In 2014, Robinson filed a forcible entry and detainer action in a justice of the peace court, but the trial court denied Robinson's request for possession. In March 2016, Robinson filed the instant suit for injunctive relief, requesting that Garza be removed from the property. Garza filed an answer, alleging that Robinson never appealed the justice court's dismissal of the forcible entry and detainer action. On August 3, 2016, Robinson filed a combined motion for traditional and no-evidence summary judgment, arguing that he affirmatively established that he is the record title owner of the property in question and that Garza "has no evidence and can provide no evidence that he has any right, title, or interest in the Property." The trial court set a hearing for the motion on October 18, 2016. Garza filed a response to the summary judgment motion on October 14, 2016. Robinson objected to Garza's untimely response and requested that it not be considered by the trial court. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(c).

         After several continuances, the trial court issued an "Order Granting Continuance, Setting Hearing, and Admonishing Defendant" on January 6, 2017, in which the trial court ordered that Robinson's motion for summary judgment would "be heard by submission" on January 31, 2017. On January 30, 2017, Garza filed a supplemental response. On January 31, 2017, Garza appeared but Robinson did not, believing that the motion was being heard by submission. At Garza's request, the trial court reset the hearing for February 21, 2017. On February 14, 2017, Robinson filed a motion asking the trial court to reconsider its decision to accept Garza's untimely response, even though the trial court had not ruled on the objections to Garza's untimely response yet.

         On February 21, 2017, Robinson appeared in person to argue his motion to reconsider accepting Garza's untimely response. Garza appeared by telephone at the hearing. The trial court advised the parties that the hearing was set by mistake and the motion for summary judgment would be heard by submission. On February 24, 2017, the trial court issued an order granting Robinson's motion for summary judgment. In the order, the trial court found that Robinson's motion for summary judgment was set for hearing by submission on January 31, 2017 and that on that day, the hearing was erroneously reset. The trial court's order additionally granted Robinson's objection to Garza's untimely response, declared that Garza's response would not be considered, and reiterated that Robinson's motion for summary judgment was being heard by submission.

         On March 22, 2017, Garza filed a motion for new trial, arguing that he should have an opportunity to present oral argument because he possessed meritorious defenses and his failure to appear at the February 21, 2017 hearing was caused by mistake. On April 27, 2017, the trial court denied Garza's motion for new trial. This appeal ensued.

         II. Craddock

         In his sole issue, Garza cites Craddock to argue that the trial court erred in denying his motion for new trial.[1] See Craddock v. Sunshine Bus Lines, Inc., 133 S.W.2d 124, 126 (Tex. 1939).

         A. Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         We review a trial court's denial of a motion for new trial for an abuse of discretion. See In re R.R., 209 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Tex. 2006). A trial court abuses its discretion if "it renders an arbitrary and unreasonable decision lacking support in the facts or circumstances of ...


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