Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Will courts enforce Rule 11 Agreements that don't have signatures? Does agreement have to be in writing?

  
Does an agreement under Rule 11 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure always have to be signed by both parties or their attorneys to become binding and enforceable?
  
ENFORCEABILITY OF RULE ELEVEN (TRCP 11) AGREEMENT

A Rule 11 agreement is an agreement between parties or attorneys "touching any pending suit" that, to be enforceable, must be either (1) in writing, signed, and filed as part of the record, or (2) made in open court and entered of record. Tex. R. Civ. P. 11. Whether a Rule 11 agreement is legally enforceable is a question of law. Ronin v. Lerner, 7 S.W.3d 883, 886 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.]  1999, no pet.).
RATIONALE FOR RULE 11 REQUIREMENTS
  
The purpose of Rule 11 is to avoid misunderstandings and controversies that often flow from oral agreements. Padilla v. LaFrance, 907 S.W.2d 454, 460 (Tex. 1995). Parties may enter into a binding settlement agreement even if they contemplate that a more formal document memorializing the agreement will be executed at a later date. See Ronin, 7 S.W.3d at 886; McLendon v. McLendon, 847 S.W.2d 601, 606-07 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1992, writ denied) ("[Party] understood that he was  obligated to execute documents to implement the agreement being submitted to the court.
SOURCE: AUSTIN COURT OF APPEALS - 03-11-00271-CV - 5/3/2012
  
There is no indication in the record that the parties contemplated that their agreement would not be binding until it was reduced to writing."). The exchange between Andrews, her attorney, Deutsche Bank's attorney, and the district court constitutes an enforceable Rule 11 agreement. Although the parties contemplated that the attorneys would later reduce the Rule 11 agreement to writing, the reporter's record reflects that the parties were aware that they were entering into a settlement agreement in court. See McLendon, 847 S.W.2d at 606-07. Specifically, both Andrews and her counsel agreed that she would release her lien and dismiss her appeal in exchange for receiving the money from the court registry.
Andrews does not dispute that she reached a settlement agreement in open court in compliance with Rule 11. Instead, she asserts that there is no evidence that she ever received any money from the court registry, the consideration for her dismissal of her appeal. To the contrary, however, the record contains an order commanding the district court clerk to withdraw the money from the court registry and pay it to Andrews's attorney.