Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Dallas Court of Appeals Again Stops Forced Sale of Valuable Partnership Property

Dallas Court of Appeals Again Stops Forced Sale of Valuable Partnership Property

April 6, 2017 in Case Summaries

For a second time, Levinger PC persuaded the Dallas Court of Appeals to reject a trial court order requiring the forced sale of valuable real property over the objection of client Steven Spiritas, a 50% partner in the entity that owns the property.  The trial court had granted partial summary judgment declaring the occurrence of a winding-up event, and then appointed a winding-up representative to sell the partnership’s property.  Spiritas brought a petition for writ of mandamus to challenge the winding-up orders, arguing that the trial court’s appointment of a winding-up representative impermissibly allowed execution on a nonappealable, interlocutory order.  The court of appeals granted Spiritas’s petition, holding that the trial court had abused its discretion by allowing the execution of a non-final order, and that mandamus relief was available to prevent the property from being sold before Spiritas could exercise his appellate rights.  In re Steven Spiritas, Individually and as Trustee of the Spiritas SF 1999 Trust, No. 05-16-00791-CV, 2017 WL 1281394 (Tex. App.-Dallas Apr. 6, 2017) (orig. proceeding).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Oil & Gas/Real Estate

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Amarillo Appellate Court Upholds Vacatur of Multi-Million Dollar Arbitration Award.

Amarillo Appellate Court Upholds Vacatur of Multi-Million Dollar Arbitration Award.

February 14, 2017 in Case Summaries

Working closely with Michael Gruber and his trial team at Gruber Elrod Johansen Hail Shank, Jeff Levinger wrote the appellee’s brief that persuaded the Amarillo Court of Appeals to uphold the vacatur of a $2.3 million arbitration award against Raeanne Martin in a dispute among the shareholders of a closely-held Texas corporation.  Although the Court noted that review of an arbitration award is “extraordinarily narrow,” it held that the three-member arbitration panel had exceeded its powers by hearing and deciding the dispute even though the parties had previously signed a Rule 11 settlement agreement.  Having affirmed the vacatur of the award on that ground, the Court did not reach the second basis for vacatur  that the panel also had exceeded its powers by granting relief that was not authorized under the parties’ shareholder agreement.  Higginson v. Martin, No. 07-15-00343-CV, 2017 WL 603626 (Tex. App.-Amarillo Feb. 14, 2017, pet. filed).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Procedural and Evidentiary Issues

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Lender Liability Suit Revived After Dismissal by Summary Judgment

Lender Liability Suit Revived After Dismissal by Summary Judgment

July 7, 2016 in Case Summaries

The Dallas Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment dismissal of a lender liability lawsuit brought by Levinger PC clients David Bagwell and The Bagwell Trust against BBVA Compass and its loan officer. Bagwell alleged that the defendants had defrauded him by representing that it would renew and not sell three promissory notes securing valuable real estate, when in fact it had secretly negotiated to sell the notes to a competitor of Bagwell. The defendants raised five defenses  statute of frauds, res judicata, collateral estoppel, estoppel by contract, and the economic loss rule  and the trial court granted summary judgment without specifying which defense supported its ruling. The Dallas Court of Appeals concluded that none of these defenses warranted the grant of summary judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Bagwell v. BBVA Compass, No. 05-14-01579-CV, 2016 WL 3660403 (Tex. App.-Dallas July 7, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Oil & Gas/Real Estate

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Dallas Court of Appeals Sets Aside New Trial Order Based on Claimed Violation of Disciplinary Rule

Dallas Court of Appeals Sets Aside New Trial Order Based on Claimed Violation of Disciplinary Rule

May 6, 2016 in Case Summaries

Assisted by trial counsel Ken Chaiken and appellate co-counsel Carl Cecere, Jeff Levinger convinced the Dallas Court of Appeals to grant mandamus relief compelling the trial court to set aside its order granting a new trial in a hotly-contested real estate dispute. Following a week-long trial, a Dallas County jury found that Levinger PC clients Douglas Hickok and VSDH Vaquero Venture did not defraud or breach their contract with the plaintiffs. The trial court, however, granted the plaintiffs a new trial, finding that Vaquero’s trial counsel had violated Texas Disciplinary Rule 3.08 by acting as both an advocate and a witness at trial. Invoking the recent Texas Supreme Court trilogy of cases allowing mandamus review of orders granting new trials, Hickok and Vaquero claimed that a purported violation of Rule 3.08 was not a legally appropriate basis for granting a new trial. The Court of Appeals agreed, and ordered the trial court to render a take-nothing judgment on the jury’s verdict. In re VSDH Vaquero Venture, Ltd., No. 05-15-0513-CV, 2016 WL 2621073 (Tex. App.-Dallas May 6, 2016, pet. denied).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Ethics & Professional Malpractice, Procedural & Evidentiary Issues

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Court of Appeals Tosses Developer’s $9 Million Inverse Condemnation Award Against City of McKinney

Court of Appeals Tosses Developer’s $9 Million Inverse Condemnation Award Against City of McKinney

May 3, 2016 in Case Summaries

Jeff Levinger successfully represented the City of McKinney in its appeal of a judgment of over $9,000,000 stemming from a developer’s claim that the City had committed an “inverse condemnation” by violating a restriction in a deed. In its 2009 lawsuit, Eldorado Land Company contended that the City’s construction of a library on a portion of a 32 acre tract that Eldorado had conveyed to the City for use as a community park violated the deed restriction, which provided that the property could be used only as a “park and recreational facility.” The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of El Dorado on the liability issue, and a jury assessed damages of over $7,500,000 (exclusive of interest), representing the difference in the property’s value with and without its deed and zoning restrictions. In reversing the summary judgment on liability and rendering a take-nothing in favor of the City, the Court of Appeals held that the City’s community library fit squarely within the “plain, ordinary, and generally accepted meaning” of a park and recreational facility, and thus did not violate the restriction in the deed. City of McKinney v. Eldorado Land Co., LP, No. 05-15-00067-CV, 2016 WL 2349371 (Tex. App.-Dallas May 3, 2016, pet. denied).

Courts:Supreme Court of Texas, Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Oil & Gas/Real Estate

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