Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Monday, March 24, 2014

What must the plaintiff show in a suit to quiet title?


SUIT TO QUIET TITLE REQUIREMENTS

To prevail in a suit to quiet title, a plaintiff must prove: (1) he has an interest in a specific property; (2) title to the property is affected by a claim by the defendant; and (3) the claim, although facially valid, is invalid or unenforceable. See, e.g., Vernon v. Perrien, 390 S.W.3d 47, 61 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2012, pet. denied); see also U.S. Nat'l Bank Ass'n v. Johnson, No. 01-10-00837-CV, 2011 WL 6938507, at *3 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 30, 2011, no pet.) (mem. op.). "[T]o contest a bank's foreclosure of a deed of trust, a party must, at the time of the foreclosure, either (1) be the mortgagor under the deed of trust or be in privity with the mortgagor, or (2) have an ownership interest in the property affected by the foreclosure." Ursic v. NBC Bank S. Tex., N.A., 827 S.W.2d 334, 336 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1991, writ denied) (citing Goswami v. Metropolitan Sav., 751 S.W.2d 487, 489 (Tex. 1988)).

STRENGTH OF PLAINTIFF'S TITLE VS WEAKNESS OF OPPONENT'S

And the plaintiff must recover on the strength of his own title, not on the weakness of his adversary's title. Fricks v. Hancock, 45 S.W.3d 322, 327 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2001, no pet.) (citing Alkas v. United Sav. Ass'n of Tex., Inc., 672 S.W.2d 852, 857 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1984, writ ref'd n.r.e.)). He "must allege right, title or ownership in himself with sufficient certainty to enable the court to see that plaintiff has a right of ownership that will warrant judicial interference." Ellison v. Butler, 443 S.W.2d 886, 888-89 (Tex. Civ. App.-Corpus Christi 1969, no writ); see Wright v. Matthews, 26 S.W.3d 575, 578 (Tex. App.-Beaumont 2000, pet. denied). The plaintiff has the burden of supplying the proof necessary to establish his superior equity and right to relief. Essex Crane Rental Corp. v. Carter, 371 S.W.3d 366, 387-88 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.], pet. denied) (op. on reh'g); Ellison, 443 S.W.2d at 888-89.

SOURCE: CORPUS CHRISTI COURT OF APPEALS - Nos. 13-12-00474-CV, 13-12-00753-CV Burnett v Bank of New


Discussion

Burnett's lawsuit to quiet title challenged the Bank's June 7, 2011 foreclosure sale. Yet the Bank's no-evidence motion addressed Burnett's right of ownership in the property. Specifically, the Bank asserted that Burnett could provide no evidence of an ownership interest in the Property at the time of the foreclosure sale.

Burnett's sole piece of summary judgment evidence filed in response to the Bank's motion consisted of a quitclaim deed from Jason, one of the mortgagors under the deed of trust. That quitclaim deed was executed on March 29, 2012, more than nine months after the June 7, 2011 foreclosure sale. The quitclaim deed was recorded in the official public records of Nueces County, Texas on August 22, 2012, more than fourteen months after the June 7, 2011 foreclosure sale. Although Burnett now asserts that this recorded quitclaim deed renders the Bank's assertions of his inability to produce a properly recorded quitclaim deed false, that is not the relevant consideration in this standing issue. The relevant consideration is not whether Burnett produced a recorded quitclaim deed; it is whether Burnett produced evidence showing that he held any ownership interest in the Property at the time of foreclosure.[4]

Burnett's evidence established only that he acquired an interest, if any, in the Property on March 29, 2012, which was after the foreclosure and after he filed his suit and amended it to a quiet title action. Considering this evidence in the light most favorable to Burnett, crediting evidence favorable to Burnett if reasonable jurors could and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not, see Fielding, 289 S.W.3d at 848; City of Keller, 168 S.W.3d at 827, we conclude there was no evidence or no more than a scintilla of evidence that Burnett held any ownership interest in the Property at the relevant time. See City of Keller, 168 S.W.3d at 810. We cannot conclude from this quitclaim deed that Burnett has raised a fact issue regarding his standing to contest the Bank's foreclosure of the deed of trust or that Burnett has shown that he has an interest in the property, such that he could prevail on a suit to quiet title. See Ernst & Young, 51 S.W.3d at 577; Spoljaric, 708 S.W.2d at 434. The evidence, instead, conclusively establishes the opposite—that Burnett held no interest in the property at the time of the foreclosure sale, and that Burnett's interest, if any, was acquired later. See City of Keller, 168 S.W.3d at 810.

Based on the evidence filed by Burnett in support of his response, we conclude that the trial court did not err in finding that no fact issue existed on the Bank's no-evidence point and in granting the Bank summary judgment on this basis. Because the trial court properly granted the Bank's no-evidence motion on this basis and did not specify the ground relied on for its ruling, we need not consider Burnett's remaining arguments related to the no-evidence motion, see Beck, 284 S.W.3d at 425, or any arguments regarding the traditional summary judgment motion. See Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d at 600; see also TEX. R. APP. P. 47.1. We overrule Burnett's third issue in Burnett II.


SOURCE: CORPUS CHRISTI COURT OF APPEALS - Nos. 13-12-00474-CV, 13-12-00753-CV Burnett v Bank of New

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