Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The fraud / fraudulent conduct must be relevant to contract-formation. “Fraudulent inducement . . . is a particular species of fraud that arises only in the context of a contract and requires the existence of a contract as part of its proof. That is, with a fraudulent inducement claim, the elements of fraud must be established as they relate to an agreement between the parties.” Haase v. Glazner, 62 S.W.3d 795, 798–99 (Tex. 2001).
Detrimental reliance by Plaintiff on deliberate falsehood by Defendant The elements of fraud are that a material representation was made, the representation was false, the speaker knew the statement was false when made, the statement was made to induce reliance, it did induce reliance, the reliance was justifiable, and the relying party suffered injury as a result. See Grant Thornton LLP v. Prospect High Income Fund, 314 S.W.3d 913, 923 (Tex. 2010); Aquaplex, Inc. v. Rancho La Valencia, Inc., 297 S.W.3d 768, 774 (Tex. 2009). [A] party who has actual knowledge of specific facts cannot have relied on a misrepresentation of the same facts. See Camden Mach. & Tool, Inc. v. Cascade Co., 870 S.W.2d 304, 311 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1993, no writ) (stating, in case where seller failed to disclose prior foundation repair but buyer discovered foundation settling in independent investigation, “When a person makes his own investigation of the facts, and knows the representations are false, he cannot, as a matter of law, be said to have relied upon the misrepresentations of another.”). The issue, then, is whether the [ name of litigants ] presented any evidence of reliance to support their claim for fraudulent inducement. See Grant Thornton, 314 S.W.3d at 923 (reliance is necessary element of fraud claims); Aquaplex, 297 S.W.3d at 774 (same). In the context of fraudulent inducement, this requires evidence that the claimant would not have entered into the contract but for the alleged misrepresentation or fraudulent nondisclosure. See ISG State Operations, Inc. v. Nat’l Heritage Ins. Co., 234 S.W.3d 711, 716 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2007, pet. denied) (stating that ordinary detrimental reliance is not sufficient to support fraudulent inducement claim; claimant must show that it was induced into executing contract) (citing Haase, 62 S.W.3d at 798); Procter v. RMC Capital Corp., 47 S.W.3d 828, 834 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2001, no pet.) (holding that home buyer seeking to avoid effect of “as is” clause on basis of fraudulent inducement must put forth some evidence that he would not have assented to “as is” clause in contract but for seller’s misrepresentations about property condition at issue); see also Dallas Farm Mach. Co. v. Reaves, 158 Tex. 1, 12–13, 307 S.W.2d 233, 240 (1957) (adopting the rule: “If one is induced to go through the form of making a contract because of some fraud or misrepresentation made by the other party or his agent, relative to a material element of the agreement, such that if he had known the truth he would not have given his assent, the contract may be avoided by him.”) (quoting 1 Elliot on Contracts § 70 (1913), emphasis added). SOURCE: Houston Court of Appeals – 01-10-00492-CV – 5/19/11
RELATED LEGAL TERMS: fraud vs. fraudulent inducement of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, failure to disclose material fact,
BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL RELATIONSHIPS GIVING RISE TO DUTY
To recover on a breach of fiduciary duty claim, the plaintiff must first establish the existence of a duty, that is, the existence of a fiduciary relationship. See Meyer v. Cathey, 167 S.W.3d 327, 330–31 (Tex. 2005) (discussing interchangeably whether fiduciary relationship exists and whether fiduciary duty existed); Priddy v. Rawson, 282 S.W.3d 588, 599 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2009, pet. denied) (identifying first element of fiduciary duty claim as existence of fiduciary relationship and second element as breach of duty created by that relationship).
There are two categories of fiduciary relationships. Meyer, 167 S.W.3d at 330–31; Priddy, 282 S.W.3d at 599. The first is a formal fiduciary relationship, such as attorney-client, principal-agent, and trustee-beneficiary relationships, as well as partners in a partnership. Chapman Children’s Trust v. Porter & Hedges, L.L.P., 32 S.W.3d 429, 439 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2000, pet. denied). The second is an informal fiduciary relationship, “where one person trusts in and relies on another, whether the relation is a moral, social, domestic, or purely personal one.” Schlumberger Tech. Corp. v. Swanson, 959 S.W.2d 171, 176 (Tex. 1997). This second category is also known as a “confidential relationship.” Chapman Children’s Trust, 32 S.W.3d at 439.
Kelly’s live petition asserted a claim for breach of a partnership agreement. This claim was not submitted to the jury, however. Accordingly, it has been waived. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 279 (providing “[u]pon appeal all independent grounds of recovery or of defense not conclusively established under the evidence and no element of which is submitted or requested are waived”). For purposes of this appeal, then, there was no partnership agreement between the parties and, by extension, no formal fiduciary relationship based on any such partnership.
A fiduciary relationship is an extraordinary one and will not be lightly created. Hoggett v. Brown, 971 S.W.2d 472, 488 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1997, pet. denied). “It is well settled that ‘not every relationship involving a high degree of trust and confidence rises to the stature of a fiduciary relationship.’” Meyer, 167 S.W.3d at 330 (quoting Schlumberger, 959 S.W.2d at 176–77). “A person is justified in placing confidence in the belief that another party will act in his or her best interest only where he or she is accustomed to being guided by the judgment or advice of the other party, and there exists a long association in a business relationship, as well as personal friendship.” Hoggett, 971 S.W.2d at 488.
Additionally, courts remain cautious to create informal fiduciary relationships in business arrangements.
The fact that one businessman trusts another, and relies upon his promise to perform a contract, does not rise to a confidential relationship. Every contract includes an element of confidence and trust that each party will faithfully perform his obligation under the contract. Neither is the fact that the relationship has been a cordial one, of long duration, evidence of a confidential relationship.Crim Truck & Tractor Co. v. Navistar Int’l Transp. Corp., 823 S.W.2d 591, 594–95 (Tex. 1992), superseded by statute on other grounds as noted in Subaru of Am., Inc. v. David McDavid Nissan, Inc., 84 S.W.3d 212, 225–26 (Tex. 2002).
Courts review a variety of facts for determining whether an informal fiduciary relationship exists. The overarching consideration, however, is the nature of the relationship between the parties. See Thigpen v. Locke, 363 S.W.2d 247, 253 (Tex. 1962) (holding “[t]he existence of the fiduciary relationship is to be determined from the actualities of the relationship between the persons involved”).
In reviewing the relationship between the parties, one factor we consider is whether the party claiming to be owed a fiduciary relationship justifiably placed special confidence in the other party to act in his best interest. See Trostle v. Trostle, 77 S.W.3d 908, 915 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2002, no pet.) (holding, to establish fiduciary relationship, evidence must demonstrate plaintiff actually relied on purported fiduciary “for moral, financial, or personal support or guidance”); Lee v. Hasson, 286 S.W.3d 1, 14–15 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, pet. denied) (same). An informal fiduciary relationship requires proof that, because of a close or special relationship, the plaintiff “is in fact accustomed to be guided by the judgment or advice” of the other. Thigpen, 363 S.W.2d at 253.
SOURCE: Houston Court of Appeals – NO. 01-09-00685-CV – 5/19/11
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
“The term 'liquidated damages' ordinarily refers to an acceptable measure of damages that parties stipulate in advance will be assessed in the event of a contract breach.” Flores v. Millenium Interests, Ltd., 185 S.W.3d 427, 431 (Tex. 2005); see also Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656, 664 (Tex. 2005) (“[l]iquidated damages clauses fix in advance the compensation to a party accruing from the failure to perform specified contractual obligations”). Whether a contract term is a liquidated damages clause is a question of law for the court. Valence Operating Co., 164 S.W.3d at 664.
If a court determines that a contract term is a liquidated damages clause, the court may then determine whether the clause is enforceable, or whether it is an unenforceable penalty. The policy underlying the prohibition against penalties is to ensure that a party to a contract receives “just compensation,” that is, “neither more nor less than his actual damages.” Phillips, 820 S.W.2d at 788 (quoting Stewart v. Basey, 150 Tex. 666, 245 S.W.2d 484, 485-86 (1952)). In order to enforce a liquidated damages provision and determine the provision is not a penalty, “the court must find: (1) that the harm caused by the breach is incapable or difficult of estimation, and (2) that the amount of liquidated damages called for is a reasonable forecast of just compensation.” Phillips, 820 S.W.2d at 788 (quoting Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, Inc. v. Campesi, 592 S.W.2d 340, 342 n.2 (Tex. 1979)).
The party asserting that a liquidated damages clause is an unenforceable penalty bears the burden of proof. Urban Television Network Corp. v. Liquidity Solutions, Ltd., 277 S.W.3d 917, 919 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.) (citing Murphy v. Cintas Corp., 923 S.W.2d 663, 665-66 (Tex. App.-Tyler 1996, writ denied)).CONTENTION MUST BE RAISED AND PLEADED AS AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE Whether a contractual provision is an unenforceable penalty and not a liquidated damage clause is an affirmative defense. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 94; Phillips v. Phillips, 820 S.W.2d 785, 789 (Tex. 1991) (“Although penalty is not among the affirmative defenses enumerated in Rule 94, Tex. R. Civ. P., the listing in that rule is not exclusive. Penalty is, in the language of the rule, a 'matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense' [citations omitted].”) SOURCE: Dallas Court of Appeals - 05-09-00586-CV - 5/18/11
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
See Dulong v. Citibank (South Dakota), N.A., 261 S.W.3d 890, 894 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2008, no pet.); Williams v. Unifund CCR Partners, 264 S.W.3d 231, 234 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2008, no pet.); Sherman Acquisition II LP v. Garcia, 229 S.W.3d 802, 807 (Tex.App.-Waco 2007, no pet.); Tully v. Citibank (South Dakota), N.A., 173 S.W.3d 212, 216 (Tex.App.-Texarkana 2005, no pet.); Bird v. First Deposit Nat'l Bank, 994 S.W.2d 280, 282 (Tex.App.-El Paso 1999, pet. denied); Hou-Tex Printers, Inc. v. Marbach, 862 S.W.2d 188, 190 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1993, no writ).