STEWART A. FELDMAN, INDIVIDUALLY, THE FELDMAN LAW FIRM LLP, RAPID SETTLEMENTS, LTD., RAPID MANAGEMENT CORP., RSL-3B-IL, LTD., RSL-3B-IL MANAGEMENT CORP., RSL-5B-IL MANAGEMENT CORP., RSL-5B-IL, LTD., RSL SPECIAL MANAGEMENT CORP., AND RSL-SPECIAL IV, LTD., Appellants
JOSEPH K. WATTS, ANGELA M. WATTS, AND JOSEPH K. WATTS, P.C., Appellees
Appeal from the 55th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2009-09825
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Zimmerer and
Thompson Frost, Chief Justice.
appeal from a final judgment in a turnover proceeding, the
judgment creditors assert that the trial court erred in
denying their request for reasonable attorney's fees
under section 31.002(e) of the Texas Civil Practice and
Remedies Code. Because the judgment creditors did not seek
reasonable attorney's fees for any services of their
attorneys in successfully prosecuting a request for turnover
relief, we affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
2009, appellants Stewart A. Feldman, individually, The
Feldman Law Firm LLP, Rapid Settlements, Ltd., Rapid
Management Corp., RSL-3B-IL, Ltd., RSL-3B-IL Management
Corp., RSL-5B-IL Management Corp., RSL-5B-IL, Ltd., RSL
Special Management Corp., and RSL-Special IV, Ltd.
(collectively the "Feldman Parties") obtained a
judgment (the "Judgment") against appellees Joseph
K. Watts, Angela M. Watts, and Joseph K. Watts, P.C.
(collectively the "Watts Parties").
years later, the trial court signed an order, dated March 23,
2015, granting the Feldman Parties' application for a
turnover order and commanding the Watts Parties to turn over
of all of their property not found by the trial court to be
exempt (the "Turnover Order"). The trial court also
ordered the Watts Parties to continue to turn over certain
categories of property immediately upon receiving the
property, until the Judgment was "fully paid [or]
settled." Though the Feldman Parties had requested
attorney's fees under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies
Code section 31.002(e), the trial court did not award any
attorney's fees in the Turnover Order. No party appealed
the Turnover Order.
months after issuing the Turnover Order, the Feldman Parties
filed a "Supplemental Application for Turnover After
Judgment," seeking additional turnover relief as well as
attorney's fees. The trial court denied this application.
March 2017, the Feldman Parties filed a motion asserting that
the Watts Parties had failed to comply with various
post-judgment, trial-court orders, including the Turnover
Order, and seeking (1) coercive sanctions in the form of the
detention of Angela Watts and Joseph Watts or per diem
monetary sanctions until they complied with all of these
orders, (2) the appointment of a receiver under the trial
court's equitable powers to supervise and oversee payment
of the Judgment in compliance with the trial court's
orders, (3) an order holding the Watts Parties in contempt
for failure to comply with the trial court's orders, (4)
an award of $170, 000 in attorney's fees, which,
according to affiant Stewart Feldman, were incurred after
rendition of the Turnover Order and in connection with the
enforcement of the Turnover Order, as either
"sanctions" or "post judgment collection costs
relating to the [Turnover Order] and application for a
receiver" (the "Motion"). Joseph Watts made a
cash payment of $15, 000 on the Judgment in mid-March 2017,
and a couple of weeks later, he made a payment by
cashier's check in the amount of $27, 434.72. Joseph
Watts testified that loans were the source of the funds for
trial court ruled on different parts of the Motion in three
different orders. By the time the trial court rendered the
final judgment from which the Feldman Parties appeal, the
trial court had denied the Motion in its entirety.
Feldman Parties filed a motion for new trial in which they
asked the trial court to reconsider its ruling on their
request for attorney's fees. The trial court denied this
Issues and Analysis
Does this court lack jurisdiction over this appeal because
the Judgment is void ab initio?
appeal, Joseph K. Watts and Joseph K. Watts, P.C.
(collectively the "Joseph Parties") suggest that
the trial court below lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over
this turnover proceeding and that this court lacks
jurisdiction over this appeal because the Judgment is void ab
initio. According to the Joseph Parties, the Judgment is void
ab initio because the arbitrator's award is void, and the
arbitrator's award is void because there was no dispute
for the arbitrator to resolve ...