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Schertz Bancshares Corp. v. Burris

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

January 2, 2020

SCHERTZ BANCSHARES CORPORATION, Individually and d/b/a Schertz Bank & Trust, Schertz Bank & Trust, and Mustang Valley Estates Homeowners Association, Appellants
v.
Scott BURRIS, Ashley Burris, Wayne Burris, Lee Burris, Kenneth Davis, Cece Davis, Amy Wilson, Mike Wilson, Daryl Green, Cathy Green, Ken Helgren, Michele Helgren, Robert Hudson, Cliff Jackson, Mamie Jackson, William Merrill, Tonya Spells, Quinton Perry, Angie Perry, Kenneth Shields, Tamara Shields, Latoya Siples, Clinton Siples, and Michelle Siples, Appellees

          From the 25th Judicial District Court, Guadalupe County, Texas Trial Court No. 12-1512-CV Honorable William Old, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Beth Watkins, Justice.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice.

         AFFIRMED IN PART AND REMANDED; REVERSED IN PART AND RENDERED

         The issue in this interlocutory appeal is whether appellees have standing to pursue a claim to enforce deed restrictions as well as claims for damages for the costs to construct and maintain common areas in a subdivision. We hold that appellees have standing to pursue only their enforcement claim. Therefore, we render judgment dismissing all of appellees' claims other than their enforcement claim, and we remand the cause for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Background[1]

         Santex Builders, LLC (Santex) developed a small residential subdivision in Guadalupe County, Texas, financed by Schertz Bank & Trust (SBT). Santex filed a plat and a declaration of covenants and restrictions in the real property records in connection with the development. The plat shows fifteen lots designated for homes and three lots reserved for "common areas." Two of the common-area lots are at the entrance to the subdivision; the third is a private street running through the subdivision. The plat provides for a gate at the entrance to be built on the common areas and states that the common-area lots will be owned and maintained by a homeowners' association. The declaration provides that Santex, or its successors and assigns, will deed the common-area lots to a homeowners' association, and the declaration gives the homeowners' association the responsibility to manage and financially support the common areas.

         Santex sold several lots in the subdivision but eventually defaulted on its loan. Thereafter, SBT foreclosed on the unsold lots and the common-area lots. After foreclosure, Santex assigned its rights and powers under the declaration to SBT, and SBT purported to accept the assignment as to rights and powers but not as to Santex's liabilities. SBT then sold several remaining lots in the subdivision and sent a "Letter of Understanding" to lot purchasers, in which SBT agreed to construct an entry gate for the subdivision. SBT also formed a homeowners' association, as contemplated by the declaration. Consistent with the plat and declaration, SBT conveyed the common-area lots to the newly-formed homeowners' association.

         Appellees, who are homeowners in the subdivision, sued SBT, SBT's holding company, and the homeowners' association alleging that SBT failed to build a compliant entry gate and maintain the private street.[2] Appellees assert claims for negligence, fraud, violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, breach of fiduciary duty, and conspiracy. They seek damages in the amount of the costs to construct an entry gate and repave the private street. Appellees also assert a claim to enforce the plat and declaration obligations.[3]

         Appellants are SBT, SBT's holding company, and the homeowners' association. They filed a plea to the jurisdiction and a motion for summary judgment, which, in part, reasserts appellants' jurisdictional arguments. Appellants argue that appellees lack standing to pursue their claims and, consequently, the trial court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. The trial court denied appellants' plea and motion and granted permission for appellants to take an interlocutory appeal on the standing issue. This appeal followed.

         Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         Standing is a component of subject-matter jurisdiction that cannot be waived. Tex. Ass'n of Bus. v. Tex. Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 445 (Tex. 1993). Whether the pleadings have alleged facts that affirmatively demonstrate subject-matter jurisdiction and whether undisputed evidence of jurisdictional facts establishes subject-matter jurisdiction are questions of law that we review de novo. Tex. Dep't of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 226 (Tex. 2004).

         When the issue of standing is before the court, we must analyze the standing of each individual to bring each individual claim. Heckman v. Williamson Cty., 369 S.W.3d 137, 152-53, 155 (Tex. 2012). Each plaintiff must demonstrate standing separately for each form of relief sought. Id. at 155. An exception applies where multiple plaintiffs sue individually for injunctive or declaratory relief. Id. at 152 n.64. In such a case, the trial court must only assure itself that one plaintiff has standing to pursue as much or more relief than any of the other plaintiffs. See id.

         "A person has standing to sue when he is personally aggrieved by the alleged wrong." Nauslar v. Coors Brewing Co., 170 S.W.3d 242, 249 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2005, no pet.) (citing Nootsie Ltd. v. Williamson Cty. Appraisal Dist., 925 S.W.2d 659, 661 (Tex. 1996)). "It is well-settled that an individual stakeholder in a legal entity does not have a right to recover personally for harms done to the legal entity." Siddiqui v. Fancy Bites, LLC, 504 S.W.3d 349, 360 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, pet. denied). "It is the nature of the wrong, whether directed ...


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