Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Monday, March 18, 2013

How courts read contracts when asked to enforce them


When construing a written contract, a court is to determine and give effect to the intent of the parties as expressed in the instrument. See Coker v. Coker, 650 S.W.2d 391, 393 (Tex. 1983). Terms in a written contract are given "their plain, ordinary, and generally accepted meaning unless the instrument shows that the parties used them in a technical or different sense." Heritage Res., Inc. v. NationsBank, 939 S.W.2d 118, 121 (Tex. 1996). "`If the written instrument is so worded that it can be given a certain or definite legal meaning or interpretation, then it is not ambiguous and the court will construe the contract as a matter of law.'" Enter. Leasing Co. of Houston v. Barrios, 156 S.W.3d 547, 549 (Tex. 2004) (quoting Coker, 650 S.W.2d at 393).

SOURCE: BEAUMONT COURT OF APPEALS - No. 09-12-00073-CV - 2/21/2013

When a contract is not ambiguous, we construe it according to the plain meaning of its express wording and enforce it as written. Chapman v. Abbot, 251 S.W.3d 612, 616-17 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.). Extrinsic evidence may not be used to create an ambiguity. See Balandran v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am., 972 S.W.2d 738, 745. We may, however, examine the contract as a whole in light of the circumstances present when the contract was entered. See Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corp. v. Texaco, Inc., 35 S.W.3d 658, 666 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, pet. denied).

SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - No. 01-11-00460-CV – 2/14/2013