Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Rule 11 Agreement must be in writing and filed with the court


WHAT REQUIREMENTS DOES A RULE ELEVEN AGREEMENT 
HAVE TO SATISFY TO BE ENFORCEABLE?

A Rule 11 agreement must be in writing and signed and filed with the court unless it is made in open court. See TEX.R.CIV.P. 11. The filing requirement creates the imprimatur of a court record. ExxonMobil Corporation v. Valence Operating Company, 174 S.W.3d 303, 309 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2005, pet. denied). A settlement agreement must comply with Rule 11 to be enforceable. Padilla v. LaFrance, 907 S.W.2d 454, 460 (Tex. 1995); Broderick v. Kaye Bassman International Corp., 333 S.W.3d 895, 904-05 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2011, no pet.).

Rule Eleven Agreements are named after Rule 11 of the
Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 

While Rule 11 requires the writing to be filed in the court record, it does not say when it must be filed. Padilla, 907 S.W.2d at 461.

WHEN A PARTY CHANGES ITS MIND AFTER SIGNING RULE 11 - REVOCATION OF CONSENT

A party has the right to revoke its consent to a Rule 11 agreement at any time before the rendition of judgment. Quintero v. Jim Walter Homes, Inc., 654 S.W.2d 442, 444 (Tex. 1983). Withdrawal of consent must be effectively communicated to the trial court. Baylor College of Medicine v. Camberg, 247 S.W.3d 342, 346-47 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, pet. denied); First Heights Bank, FSB v. Marom, 934 S.W.2d 843, 845 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1996, no writ). Ordinarily, when one party withdraws consent to a Rule 11 agreement, another party can still seek to enforce it as a contract through an amended pleading or a counterclaim. Ford Motor Company v. Castillo, 279 S.W.3d 656, 663 (Tex. 2009); Padilla, 907 S.W.2d at 461; see Kanan v. Plantation Homeowner's Association Inc., 407 S.W.3d 320, 334 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 2013, no pet.h.)(Where consent to a Rule 11 agreement has been withdrawn, a court may enforce it through a separate breach of contract claim). Generally, these rules are applied in cases where the trial court rendered judgment pursuant to a Rule 11 agreement and one party is claiming that it withdrew its consent to the agreement.

ENFORCEMENT OF RULE 11 AGREEMENT

A trial court has a ministerial duty to enforce a valid Rule 11 agreement. Fortis Benefits v. Cantu, 234 S.W.3d 642, 651 (Tex. 2007); EZ Pawn Corp. v. Mancias, 934 S.W.2d 87, 91 (Tex. 1996); In re Guardianship of White, 329 S.W.3d 591, 592 (Tex.App.-El Paso 2010, no pet.).

Rule 11 agreements are contracts relating to litigation and are subject to general rules of contract construction. Trudy's Texas Star, Inc. v. City of Austin, 307 S.W.3d 894, 914 (Tex.App.-Austin 2010, no pet.). Our primary objective in construing a written contract is to ascertain and give effect to the intentions the parties have objectively manifested in the written instrument. Trudy's Texas Star, 307 S.W.3d at 914, citing Frost National Bank v. L & F Distributors, Ltd., 165 S.W.3d 310, 311-12 (Tex. 2005). Contract terms are given their plain, ordinary, and generally accepted meanings, and contracts are to be construed as a whole in an effort to harmonize and give effect to all provisions of the contract. Trudy's Texas Star, 307 S.W.3d at 914, citing Valence Operating Company v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656, 663 (Tex. 2005). If a contract can be given a certain or definite legal meaning or interpretation, it is not ambiguous and is construed as a matter of law. Trudy's Texas Star, 307 S.W.3d at 914, citing Coker v. Coker, 650 S.W.2d 391, 393 (Tex. 1983).

SOURCE: EL PASO COURT OF APPEALS -No. 08-13-00069-CV - 4/23/2014 

SIGNATURE REQUIRED - EITHER PARTY OR PARTY'S ATTORNEY, OR BOTH 

Rule 11 provides that "no agreement between attorneys or parties touching any suit pending will be enforced unless it be in writing, signed and filed with the papers as part of the record, or unless it be made in open court and entered of record." TEX. R. CIV. P. 11. A Rule 11 agreement may be signed by attorneys for the parties, or the parties themselves. See TEX. R. CIV. P. 11; see also Ebner v. First State Bank of Smithville, 27 S.W.3d 287, 297 (Tex. App.-Austin 2000, pet. denied) (Rule 11 agreement may be signed by party or party's attorney). Thus, a settlement agreement satisfies the requirements of Rule 11 if it is (1) in writing, (2) signed by the parties or their attorneys, and (3) filed with the court or entered in open court prior to a party seeking enforcement. See TEX. R. CIV. P. 11. 

SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - No. 01-13-00176-CV -3/13/2014