Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Quasi-estoppel - What is it? When does it apply?


Quasi-estoppel is a term applied to certain legal bars, such as ratification, election, acquiescence, or acceptance of benefits. Steubner Realty 19, Ltd. v. Cravens Road 88, Ltd., 817 S.W.2d 160, 164 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1991, no writ). The long-standing doctrine "precludes a [person] from asserting, to another's disadvantage, a right inconsistent with a position previously taken." Lopez v. Muñoz, Hockema & Reed, L.L.P.,22 S.W.3d 857, 864 (Tex. 2000)see Schauer v. Von Schauer, 138 S.W. 145, 149-50 (Tex. Civ. App.-Austin 1911, writ ref'd) ("Where a person has, with knowledge of the facts, acted or conducted himself in a particular manner, or asserted a particular claim, title, or right, he cannot afterwards assume a position inconsistent with such act, claim or conduct to the prejudice of another." (internal quotations omitted)). And "[t]he doctrine applies when it would be unconscionable to allow a person to maintain a position inconsistent with one [in] which [s]he acquiesced." Lopez, 22 S.W.3d at 864see alsoAtkinson Gas Co. v. Albrecht, 878 S.W.2d 236, 240 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1994, writ denied)Vessels v. Anschutz Corp., 823 S.W.2d 762, 765-66 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 1992, writ denied). Unlike equitable estoppel, quasi-estoppel does not require a showing of a false representation or detrimental reliance. Steubner Realty 19, Ltd., 817 S.W.2d at 164.

SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - 01-14-00705-CV - 1/21/2016  
Here, however, Metzger did not raise his estoppel issue in the probate court, and he did not request a jury question on the issue. Because Metzger did not raise this issue at trial, he did not preserve it for appellate review. See TEX. R. APP. P. 33.1(a); TEX. R. CIV. P. 94 ("[A] party shall set forth affirmatively . . . estoppel. . . ."), 278, 279; see also Ray v. T.D., No. 03-06-00242-CV, 2008 WL 341490, at *8 (Tex. App.-Austin Feb. 7, 2008, no pet.) (mem. op.) ("As the party with the burden of proving quasi-estoppel, [appellant's] failure to seek findings and conclusions regarding that theory waives it."). We overrule Metzger's second issue.

QUASI-ESTOPPEL (legal doctrine)
“Quasi-estoppel precludes a party from asserting, to another’s disadvantage, a right inconsistent with a position previously taken.”  Lopez v. Munoz, Hockema & Reed, L.L.P., 22 S.W.3d 857, 864 (Tex. 2000). “The doctrine applies when it would be unconscionable to allow a person to maintain a position inconsistent with one to which he acquiesced, or from which he accepted a benefit.” Id. “Thus, quasi-estoppel forbids a party from accepting the benefits of a transaction and then subsequently taking an inconsistent position to avoid corresponding obligations or effects.”  Eckland Consultants, Inc. v. Ryder, Stilwell Inc., 176 S.W.3d 80, 87 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, no pet.).  “[T]here can be no estoppel from acceptance of benefits by a person who did not have knowledge of all material facts.”  Lindley v. McKnight, 349 S.W.3d 113, 133 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2011, no pet.)  (citing Frazier v. Wynn, 472 S.W.2d 750, 753 (Tex. 1971)).

This equitable doctrine operates as an affirmative defense. Hamilton v. Morris Res., Ltd., 225 S.W.3d 336, 346 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2007, pet. denied). 

SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - 01-10-00739-CV – 4/5/12

Malone did not request that this issue be submitted to the jury, and the jury did not make any findings on this issue.  Moreover, the evidence does not demonstrate that the doctrine of quasi-estoppel bars Patel’s recovery as a matter of law.  Fasken Land & Minerals, Ltd. v. Occidental Permian Ltd., 225 S.W.3d 577, 594 (Tex. App.—El Paso, 2005, pet. denied).  We have already rejected the argument that Patel status as an employee conclusively defeats any claim that the parties agreed to be partners.  As for the other documents cited by Malone, the jury heard evidence that (1) Patel trusted Malone, (2) Malone was in charge of the business and accounting functions at Prescendo, (3)  Malone represented to Patel that their agreement to be partners could not be writing until Patel received his green card, and (4) that Malone told Patel to fill out documents reflecting that Malone owned Prescendo until their agreement could be reduced to writing.  In light of this evidence, as well as the evidence that Patel forewent other employment and accepted less compensation at Prescendo based on the parties’ agreement, we cannot conclude, as a matter of law, that Patel accepted a benefit from being designated as an employee that is inconsistent with his agreement with Malone such that it would be unconscionable to enforce their agreement.  Malone’s position is in fact inconsistent with the evidence that Patel accepted reduced benefits as an employee precisely because of the additional benefits he expected from the partnership.
We overrule Malone’s second issue.
SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - 01-10-00739-CV – 4/5/12

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