Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin
COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 2 OF TRAVIS COUNTY NO.
C-1-CV-17-011263, THE HONORABLE J. DAVID PHILLIPS, JUDGE
Justices Kelly, Smith, and Shannon [*]
an appeal from a summary judgment rendered by the county
court at law of Travis County denying a petition for bill of
review. Appellant is Tradelogic Corporation and appellee is
Victor Castillo d/b/a Cast Communications. We will affirm the
case originated as a suit filed by Castillo in the justice
court of Travis County to recover $8, 242.62 in unpaid
invoices for audio/visual and cabling works performed at
Tradelogic's request. Tradelogic's counsel filed an
answer, counterclaim, and a jury demand. Upon trial, the jury
returned a verdict denying Tradelogic's counterclaim and
awarding Castillo $8, 242.62 in damages and $11, 712.90 in
attorney's fees. On May 17, 2016, the justice court
rendered judgment for Castillo in the total sum of $20,
undisputed that Tradelogic and its counsel had notice of the
judgment; however, it filed no motion for new trial. Although
Tradelogic notified Castillo that it intended to appeal from
the judgment, it did not file an appeal bond, a cash deposit
or a sworn statement of inability to pay.
than a year subsequent to the rendition of the underlying
judgment, Tradelogic filed a petition for review in justice
court. After the justice court denied its petition,
Tradelogic perfected an appeal to the county court at law of
Travis County. Castillo filed an answer along with
no-evidence and traditional motions for summary judgment.
Upon hearing, the county court at law rendered summary
judgment denying the petition for bill of review.
Court, Tradelogic devotes most of its brief to attacking the
constitutionality of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 506.1,
which governs appeals from justice courts to county courts.
To take an appeal, the rule requires a defendant to file a
bond, or cash in lieu of a bond, in an amount equal to twice
the amount of judgment. Tradelogic asserts that Rule 506.1
violates its rights under the Open Courts provision of the
Texas Constitution and the Equal Protection and Due Process
clauses of the United States Constitution. We do not decide
these issues since the appeal may be resolved on
non-constitutional grounds. See In re B.L.D., 113
S.W.3d 340, 349 (Tex. 2003).
of review is an equitable proceeding brought by a party
seeking to set aside a prior judgment that is no longer
subject to challenge by a motion for new trial or appeal.
Baker v. Goldsmith, 582 S.W.2d 404, 406 (Tex. 1979).
The grounds upon which a bill of review may be obtained are
narrow because the procedure conflicts with the fundamental
policy that judgments must become final at some point.
King Ranch, Inc. v. Chapman, 118 S.W.3d 742, 751
(Tex. 2003); Transworld Fin. Servs. Corp. v.
Briscoe, 722 S.W.2d 407, 407 (Tex. 1987). Accordingly, a
bill-of-review plaintiff must ordinarily plead and prove (1)
a meritorious defense to the underlying cause of action; (2)
which the bill-of-review plaintiff was prevented from making
by the fraud, accident, or wrongful act of the opposing party
or official mistake; (3) unmixed with any fault or negligence
on the part of the bill-of-review plaintiff. Caldwell v.
Barnes, 154 S.W.3d 93, 96 (Tex. 2004) (per curiam).
bill-of-review plaintiff has the burden of showing that his
failure to file an appeal or a motion for new trial was not
the result of his fault or negligence. Petro-Chem.
Transp., Inc. v. Carroll, 514 S.W.2d 240, 246 (Tex.
1974). If a direct appeal or motion for new trial is
available, it is difficult to imagine any case in which
failure to pursue one or the other would not be negligence.
See Gold v. Gold, 145 S.W.3d 212, 214 (Tex. 2004)
summary-judgment response and supporting proof did not assert
that it was unable to file an appeal bond or cash deposit or
that it was prevented from doing so. Instead, Tradelogic
admitted that it could have filed the bond or cash deposit,
but decided not to do so, given its belief that the purchase
of the bond or the raising of the cash deposit would not be
"practical" or "reasonable" or
"realistic" in that such an expense would have
consumed about two-thirds of its monthly revenue, leaving it
cash-strapped. Under these circumstances, Tradelogic claims
that requiring it to file a bond or a cash deposit in an
amount equal to twice the amount of the judgment is
"absurd." Tradelogic's argument, in sum, is
that a party should be excused from filing a bond or cash
deposit as required by Rule 506.1 if it decides that purchase
of the bond or raising the cash deposit is "not
practical" or "reasonable" or
"realistic." Tradelogic shows the Court no
authority in support of its argument.
notified of the rendition of the underlying judgment,
Tradelogic chose not to file a motion for new trial.
Tradelogic now asserts, without citing supporting authority,
that it was excused from filing a motion for new trial given
its belief that a new trial in justice court would not
"provide meaningful relief," and that any new trial
would again have "involved a jury with no jury
Court has concluded that, as a matter of law, Tradelogic did
not discharge its burden to show its lack of fault or
negligence in failing to file a bond or cash deposit and in
failing to file a motion for new trial before the ...