Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When attorney's fees are not available under the UDJA (Texas Declaratory Judgments Act)

   
No Statutory Attorney's Fees under the Declaratory Judgments Act (DJA) in the absence of proper declaratory judgment claim independent of other cause of action 
   
A party cannot use the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act to obtain an otherwise impermissible attorney's fee. MBM Fin. Corp. v. Woodlands Operating Co., 292 S.W.3d 660, 669 (Tex. 2009). It is an abuse of discretion to award attorney's fees under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act when the statute is relied upon solely as a vehicle to recover attorney's fees. Tex. State Bd. of Plumbing Exam'rs v. Assoc. Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Tex., Inc., 31 S.W.3d 750, 753 (Tex. App.-Austin 2000, pet. dism'd); see also City of Houston v. Texan Land & Cattle Co., 138 S.W.3d 382, 392 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2004, no pet.) (party may not use declaratory judgment action to seek same relief afforded under another of its causes of action to obtain otherwise impermissible attorney's fees). In a declaratory judgment action, a “court may award costs and reasonable and necessary attorney's fees as are equitable and just.” Id. at § 37.009.

SOURCE: 05-08-01715-CV (Dallas Court of Appeals) (3/18/10)