WADE POUNDS AND RAY J. BLACK, JR., INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THOMAS W. POUNDS, DECEASED, Appellants
REVA JEAN ROHE, Appellee
Appeal from the Probate Court No.1 Harris County, Texas Trial
Court Case No. 444, 171-401
consists of Justices Keyes, Goodman, and Countiss.
Pounds and Ray J. Black, Jr., independent administrator of
the estate of Thomas J. Pounds, deceased, filed this
interlocutory appeal from the trial court's order denying
their motion to compel arbitration. We affirm.
of Estate Litigation
Thomas J. Pounds, Jr. passed away, his common-law wife, Reva
Jean Rohe, and his son, Wade Pounds, became embroiled in
litigation over the estate. They eventually settled their
dispute. Their settlement agreement included an arbitration
If a dispute arises with regard to the interpretation and/or
performance of this agreement or any of its provisions, the
parties agree to resolve the dispute by a phone conference
with the mediator who facilitated the settlement. If the
parties cannot resolve their differences in this manner, then
the parties agree to binding arbitration with Judge Ray.
trial court incorporated the settlement agreement into an
agreed final judgment disposing of the litigation between
Rohe and Pounds. The agreed judgment appointed Ray J. Black,
Jr. as the estate's independent administrator. The
judgment ordered Black to pay all claims and administrative
costs and comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.
for Accounting and Distribution
September 2018, Rohe filed a petition for accounting and
distribution in the probate court. Among other things, she
asserted a right to reimbursement from the estate for
mortgage payments she made to prevent foreclosure on real
property the deceased gave to her in fee simple. She alleged
that Black failed to comply with the terms of the settlement
agreement by failing to reimburse her from the estate for
October 2018, Pounds answered. He opposed Rohe's request
for reimbursement for the mortgage payments from the estate.
As the beneficiary of the estate's remaining funds, any
reimbursement made to Rohe effectively would have been at his
expense. Pounds also contemporaneously filed a motion for
summary judgment seeking to have Rohe's reimbursement
claim denied on the merits. Rohe responded to his
summary-judgment motion in November 2018.
trial court heard the summary-judgment motion in November
2018. Pounds filed supplemental briefing in December 2018.
The trial court denied his motion that month.
point before the trial court had denied Pounds's
summary-judgment motion, it informed Rohe that a separate
action against the estate or administrator would be necessary
to pursue a claim for reimbursement of the mortgage payments
in lieu of her petition for an accounting and distribution.
See Harris Cty. Probate Ct. Local Rules 2.4, 2.5,
2.6 (providing that claim against administrator for rejection
of claim is ancillary matter to be assigned cause number
distinct from estate administration); see also Henderson
v. Shanks, 449 S.W.3d 834, 840-41 (Tex. App.-Houston
[14th Dist.] 2014, pet. denied) (discussing these local
probate rules). Accordingly, in December 2018, Rohe filed a
claim against the estate for reimbursement of the mortgage
payments. Per the local probate rules, this separate action,
cause number 444, 171-401, was made a sub-file of the estate
administration, cause number 444, 171.
January 2019, Black denied Rohe's claim for
March 2019, Rohe sued as to Black's refusal to reimburse
her from the estate for the mortgage payments. Black answered
2019, Pounds filed a motion to compel arbitration of
Rohe's reimbursement claim under the prior settlement
agreement. Black joined Pounds's motion. Rohe filed a
response in opposition.
trial court heard Pounds's motion to compel arbitration
in July 2019. At the hearing, Rohe argued that Pounds had not
invoked the arbitration clause when she initially made her
claim and that he already had unsuccessfully sought summary
judgment as to her right to reimbursement. Rohe noted that
her claim for reimbursement had been pending for about eight
months before Pounds moved for arbitration and that it was
not fair to do so at this point. She explicitly invoked the
defense of waiver, reiterating that a motion for summary
judgment as to this very issue had been filed, heard, and
trial court denied Pounds's motion to compel arbitration.
The trial court ruled that Pounds had waived his right to
arbitration by substantially invoking the judicial process,
specifically by filing a ...