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Smith v. Directru Assets Management, LLC

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eleventh District

August 30, 2019

JUSTIN SMITH AND RICHARD HEREDIA, Appellants
v.
DIRECTRU ASSETS MANAGEMENT, LLC, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 161st District Court Ector County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. B-16-07-0672-CV

          Panel consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J. [1] Willson, J., not participating.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KEITH STRETCHER JUSTICE.

         This is an appeal from a summary judgment in favor of Appellee, Directru Assets Management, LLC (Directru Assets), and against Appellants, Justin Smith and Richard Heredia. In one issue, Appellants contend that the trial court erred when it granted summary judgment. Specifically, Appellants argue that the evidence attached to Directru Assets' combined motion for summary judgment was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact. Because we conclude that Appellants failed to produce that evidence for the trial court's consideration, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background Facts

         Appellants sued Directru Assets for negligence and trespass. After adequate time for discovery, Directru Assets filed a combined traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment. In relevant part, Directru Assets argued that there was no evidence on any of the elements of Appellants' negligence and trespass claims.

         In response to Directru Assets' combined motion, Appellants produced several pieces of evidence, which they argued to the trial court raised a genuine issue of material fact and precluded summary judgment. Directru Assets filed its objections to the evidence. After a hearing on the objections, the trial court issued an order in which it sustained Directru Assets' objections and struck Appellants' responsive evidence for all purposes. The record does not show that Appellants later produced any other evidence.

         After a hearing on Directru Assets' combined motion, the trial court granted Directru Assets' traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment. The trial court also rendered final judgment in favor of Directru Assets. In doing so, the trial court ordered that Appellants take nothing against Directru Assets and dismissed all of their claims against Directru Assets with prejudice. This appeal followed.

         Analysis

         Appellants bring one issue on appeal. In their issue, Appellants contend that the trial court erred when it granted summary judgment "because there was sufficient evidence to meet [their] burden of proof." We disagree.

          We review grants of summary judgment de novo. Cantey Hanger, LLP v. Byrd, 467 S.W.3d 477, 481 (Tex. 2015). In our review, we take as true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant, indulge every reasonable inference in favor of the nonmovant, and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's favor. Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tex. 2005).

         When a party moves for both traditional and no-evidence summary judgments, we first consider the no-evidence motion. Ford Motor Co. v. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d 598, 600 (Tex. 2004). If the nonmovant fails to meet its burden under the no-evidence motion, there is no need to address the challenge to the traditional motion. Merriman v. XTO Energy, Inc., 407 S.W.3d 244, 248 (Tex. 2013). Thus, we first review each claim under the no-evidence standard. Any claims that survive the no-evidence review will then be reviewed under the traditional standard.

         To defeat a no-evidence motion, the nonmovant must produce evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact as to the challenged elements. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(i). A genuine issue of material fact exists if the evidence "rises to a level that would enable reasonable and fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions." Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. v. Havner, 953 S.W.2d 706, 711 (Tex. 1997) (quoting Burroughs Wellcome Co. v. Crye, 907 S.W.2d 497, 499 (Tex. 1995)). The evidence does not create an issue of material fact if it is "so weak as to do no more than create a mere surmise or suspicion" that the fact exists. Kia Motors Corp. v. Ruiz, 432 S.W.3d 865, 875 (Tex. 2014) (quoting Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d at 601).

         In its no-evidence motion, Directru Assets properly asserted, among other things, that there was no evidence on any of the elements of Appellants' negligence and trespass claims. To defeat this motion, Appellants were required to produce evidence that raised a genuine issue of material fact on the ...


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