Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Suit on sworn account is not a cause of action, but a different way to plead a common-law suit on account

San Antonio Court of Appeals reiterates that a sworn account is not a cause of action in its own right, but instead a procedural vehicle to present a prima facie case. The benefit of a prime facie case under Rule 185 are lost when the defendant files a sworn denial. When that happens, the plaintiff must prove the suit on account under the ordinary evidentiary standards (i.e. those applicable to a trial on the merits, or for summary judgment).  


A suit on a sworn account is not an independent cause of action. Southern Mgmt. Servs., Inc. v. SM Energy Co., No. 14-12-00377-CV, 2013 WL 793153, at *2 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Mar. 5, 2013, no pet. h.). "It is based instead on Rule 185, which affords a procedural right of recovery in certain contract disputes." Id.; see also Pine Trail Shores Owners Ass'n v. Aiken, 160 S.W.3d 139, 144 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2005, no pet.) (noting Rule 185 is not a rule of substantive law and suit on sworn account is not a cause of action).

SOURCE: SAN ANTONIO COURT OF APPEALS - 04-12-00029-CV – 6/5/2013

Under rule 185 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, when an action is founded on an open account on which a systematic record has been kept and is supported by an affidavit, the account shall be taken as prima facie evidence of the claim, unless the party resisting the claim files a written denial under oath. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 185; Panditi v. Apostle, 180 S.W.3d 924, 926 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, no pet.).
SUBSTANTIVE ELEMENTS OF SWORN ACCOUNT (common-law suit on account) 
The essential elements to prove a sworn account are: (1) that there was a sale and delivery of merchandise or performance of services; (2) that the amount of the account is just, that is, that the prices were charged in accordance with an agreement or were customary and reasonable prices; and (3) that the amount is unpaid. Adams v. H & H Meat Prods., Inc., 41 S.W.3d 762, 773 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2001, no pet.). See also Cass v. Stephens, 156 S.W.3d 38, 70 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2004, pet. denied); Burch v. Hancock, 56 S.W.3d 257, 264 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2001, no pet.); Tex. R. Civ. P. 185.   
A "sale and delivery of merchandise or performance of services" is one of the elements essential to prove a sworn account. Adams, 41 S.W.3d at 773.
A "sale" consists in the passing of title from the "seller" to the "buyer" for a price. Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 2.106(a) (Vernon 1994). "Buyer" means a person who buys or contracts to buy goods. Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 2.103(a)(1) (Vernon Supp. 2006). "Seller" means a person who sells or contracts to sell goods. Id. § 2.103(a)(4). Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, title to goods passes to the buyer at the time and place of delivery. Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 2.401(b) (Vernon Supp. 2006).
SOURCE: DALLAS COURT OF APPEALS05-06-00216-CV - 2/23/2007