Sunday, February 16, 2014
Discretionary nature of attorney fee awards in declaratory judgment actions
Fee Awards under the Texas DJA
Under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, "the court may award costs and reasonable and necessary attorney's fees as are equitable and just." TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 37.009 (West 2008). A grant or denial of attorney's fees in a declaratory judgment action lies within the sound discretion of the trial court. Oake v. Collin Cnty., 692 S.W.2d 454, 455 (Tex. 1985). The court's judgment will not be reversed on appeal absent a clear showing that it abused its discretion. Id.; A & L Eng'g & Consulting, Inc. v. Shiloh Apollo Plaza, Inc., 315 S.W.3d 928, 930 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.).
SOURCE: FIFTH COURT OF APPEALS IN DALLAS - 05-11-01425-CV - 1/6/2014
Here, the parties stipulated to the amounts for reasonable and necessary attorney's fees through trial and if the case is appealed. Based on our resolution of Wells Fargo's appellate issues and this opinion affirming the trial court's judgment, we cannot conclude the trial court abused its discretion by awarding Leath his fees. We overrule Wells Fargo's fourth issue.
CASE: WELLS FARGO BANK, NA v. Leath, Tex: Court of Appeals, 5th Dist. 2014
Recovery under the Texas Declaratory Judgments Act in the presence of other claims
In this case, all parties sought declaratory relief with regard to the construction and interpretation of the various agreements. Section 37.009 allows a trial court to award attorneys' fees in any declaratory judgment proceeding. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 37.009 (West 2008). Hagee contends that the declaratory relief was sought simply to recover fees that would not otherwise be recoverable in relation to the other claims that were asserted. In this case, however, the declaratory relief was not sought simply for that purpose. Instead, the interpretation of the release language in the CSA was a crucial component of the claims asserted by both parties, and the declaratory relief narrowed the issues for trial.
SOURCE: FOURTH COURT OF APPEALS IN SAN ANTONIO - No. 04-12-00434-CV - 1/22/2014