Error Preservation in Texas Civil Cases, January 20, 2019

January 15, 2019

Dear All:

After a big push to get cases out the door before the end of the year, the courts seem to have taken a little breather.  So we do not have many error preservation rulings in the first three weeks of the new year.

The topics included in this blog entry include:

Some issues–like lack of subject matter jurisdiction–may be raised for the first time on appeal

Your complaint on appeal must comport with the complaint you made at trial

You have to comply with other pertinent rules–e.g., if your evidence is excluded, you must make an offer of proof

Some issues–like lack of subject matter jurisdiction–may be raised for the first time on appeal:

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: “Amaya argues that the State waived the issue of the trial court’s jurisdiction by failing to object either after receiving notice of his petition for non-disclosure or a copy of the trial court’s order. However, a relator, [*3] including the State, need not object to an order issued by a trial court prior to filing a petition for a writ of mandamus in an appellate court when the order is void. . . . .This is true because lack of jurisdiction is a fundamental error and may be raised for the first time in an appellate court. See Mapco, Inc. v. Carter, 817 S.W.2d 686, 687 (Tex. 1991). Additionally, subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be conferred by consent, waiver, or estoppel. . . . Assuming without deciding that the State did have notice of Amaya’s petition for non-disclosure and the trial court’s ruling, the lack of an objection does not preclude the State’s present petition for writ of mandamus as the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the order of non-disclosure.” In re State ex rel. Parsons, No. 10-17-00216-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 91, at *2-3 (App.—Waco Jan. 9, 2019)

Your complaint on appeal must comport with the complaint you made at trial:

Evidence: “Stephens & Myers objected to the testimony but did not object on the grounds that the testimony “included pure questions of law and was unreliable”; the only objection went to a failure to disclose. To preserve error for appeal, the argument made in the trial court must comport with the argument made on appeal. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a); Santander Consumer USA, Inc. v. Mata, No. 03-14-00782-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 2631, 2017 WL 1208767, at *3 (Tex. App.—Austin Mar. 29, 2017, no pet.). Stephens & Myers has waived its complaint that Johnston’s testimony “included pure questions of law and was unreliable.”” Stephens v. Three Finger Black Shale P’ship, No. 11-16-00177-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10921, at *90 (App.—Eastland Dec. 31, 2018)

You have to comply with other pertinent rules–e.g., if your evidence is excluded, you must make an offer of proof:

Evidence: “Mitchell then asked the trial court, “So in essence you have eliminated [*6] all my evidence?” When the trial court indicated that it had, Mitchell responded, “Of course, I object to that,” but she did not make an offer of proof. Cf. Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a)(1)(B); Tex. R. Evid. 103(a)(2). While her “Defendant’s List of Exhibits,” listing ten of the twelve items she attempted to offer into evidence, was filed in the clerk’s record, only nine of the items were filed in the clerk’s record. . . .But before we consider whether an abuse of discretion has occurred, the error must be preserved for our review. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a); Tex. R. Evid. 103(a)(2). No amount of inapplicable legal principles or misused legal jargon can overcome the threshold requirement that error, if any, must be preserved. And, at the end of the day, Mitchell failed to make the required offer of proof at trial necessary to preserve her evidentiary complaints.” Mitchell v. Wilmington Sav. Funds Soc’y, No. 02-18-00089-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 144, at *7 (App.—Fort Worth Jan. 10, 2019)

Then there were a few cases in which the parties failed to raise their complaints in the trial court.

All for now.  I hope this helps.

Yours, Steve Hayes

www.stevehayeslaw.com; shayes@stevehayeslaw.com

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Error Preservation in Texas Civil Cases, Wrapping Up 2018

January 1, 2019

Dear All:

Welcome to 2019!  I hope this New Year becomes your best ever.

I’ve failed to update this for way too long, so this is longer than it should be. The topics included in this blog entry include cases addressing the following:

Always have a prayer for general relief in your pleading

Some issues–like exclusive jurisdiction, the contention that an expert’s report was in fact not the report of an expert at all, and the lack of personal knowledge in an affidavit–can be raised for the first time on appeal

We have several cases in which courts of appeals dealt with specificity on complaints involving retention of counsel, damages, discovery, evidence, and legal and factual sufficiency

There are several additional cases in which the trial court held that parties preserved their complaints concerning attorney’s fees, contracts, evidence, the jury charge, valuations, visitation, and voir dire

When you object to an instruction, on the same grounds you raise on appeal, which the trial court included in the charge, you will have preserved a complaint to that instruction

Your complaint must be timely as to:

Choice of Law
Expert Report
Notice
Visiting Judge

The complaint you make on appeal must be the same complaint you made at trial as to:

Arbitration
Evidence
Exclusive jurisdiction
You have to comply with the pertinent rules
Continuance

You must get a ruling on your complaint on:

Discovery
Jury Charge

Now, on to the specific cases.

Here is a case which reminds us why we should always have a prayer for general relief in our pleading:

Pleading: “A general prayer for relief will support any relief raised by the evidence that is consistent with the allegations and causes of action stated in the petition.” Moran v. Williamson, 498 S.W.3d 85, 93 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, pet. denied); accord Salomon v. Lesay, 369 S.W.3d 540, 553 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, no pet.). Lewis did not pray for general relief in her live pleading, though. Instead, she prayed for a specific calculation of damages for her breach of contract claim. She prayed for “the value of the property less the remaining payments [she] would have made to Silberstein under the contract for deed” or alternatively, for “the amount [she] would have to pay to reclaim the property from [the purchaser at the foreclosure sale].” The trial court’s restitution award does not reflect either of these proposed measurements.” Silberstein v. Lewis, No. 01-17-00294-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10648, at *7-9 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 20, 2018)

Some issues–like exclusive jurisdiction, the contention that an expert’s report was in fact not the report of an expert at all, and the lack of personal knowledge in an affidavit–can be raised for the first time on appeal:

Expert’s report: “Because Pogue [*10] does not purport to have expertise about the appropriate standards of care for discharging a firearm, let alone for operating a sport shooting range, and because his report does not provide opinions about such standards, we hold that Pogue is not an “expert” under section 128.051 and that his report is neither an “expert report” under section 128.051 nor a good faith effort to constitute the same. The Stinsons therefore failed to serve an “expert report” under section 128.053. See id. §§ 128.051(3)(A), (4), .053(a), (e). Consequently, there is also no merit to the Stinsons’ argument that relators waived their objections to Pogue’s report by not asserting them within twenty-one days after they received it.  Section 128.053(a) requires only that objections to an expert report be filed and served within twenty-one days; because Pogue’s report constituted no report at all under chapter 128, relators’ obligation to object was never triggered.” In re Wade, No. 02-18-00323-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10656, at *9 (App.—Fort Worth Dec. 20, 2018)

Jurisdiction: “Subject-matter jurisdiction is essential to a court’s authority to decide a case, cannot be waived, and may be raised for the first time on appeal. A. Inverse condemnation. The River Authority asserts for the first time on appeal that the Harris County district courts lack jurisdiction over the inverse-condemnation claims because the Harris County county civil courts at law have exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction over such claims pursuant to Government Code subsection 25.1032(c).” San Jacinto River Auth. v. Burney, Nos. 01-18-00365-CV, 01-18-00406-CV, 01-18-00407-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9891, at *4 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 4, 2018)

Jurisdiction: “The County argues for the first time on appeal that its governmental immunity has not been waived and the trial court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the claim because it did not receive notice of the claim against it within six months of “the day that the incident giving rise to the claim occurred,” as required by the TTCA. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 101.101(a). “Statutory prerequisites to a suit, including the provision of notice, are jurisdictional requirements in all suits against a governmental [*9] entity.” Tex. Gov’t Code § 311.034. Subject-matter jurisdiction is essential to a court’s authority to decide a case, cannot be waived, and may be raised for the first time on appeal. Jefferson Cty. v. Farris, No. 01-17-00493-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10885, at *8-9 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 28, 2018)

Summary Judgment: “Houle contends on appeal as he did in the trial court that Trittipoe failed to demonstrate adequate personal knowledge underlying her testimony for proving up the attached Capital One business records. We have previously held that a lack of personal knowledge, reflected in the affiant’s testimony itself and not just as the lack of a formal recitation, is a defect of substance that may be raised for the first time on appeal.” Houle v. Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., No. 08-16-00234-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10538, at *14 (App.—El Paso Dec. 19, 2018)

On rare occasion, a court of appeals decides an error preservation issue based on whether the complaint at trial was sufficiently specific to make the trial court aware of the complaint. Here, we have several cases in which courts of appeals dealt with specificity on complaints involving retention of counsel, damages, discovery, evidence, and legal and factual sufficiency:

Attorney: “We hold Mother’s contention that the associate judge denied her right to due process for failing to allow her to retain counsel of her choice has not been preserved for our review. First, the record does not establish that Mother asked that she be permitted to retain counsel of her choosing or that she had the ability to do so at the time counsel made the oral motion. When the associate judge discussed the matter with counsel on the record, he specifically referenced appointment of new counsel. Mother’s appointed counsel made no reference to retention of counsel or any statement to that effect. Thus, Mother’s request was not sufficiently specific to make the trial court aware of her complaint, and the grounds were not apparent from the context. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a)(1)(A). Additionally, Mother’s request below does not comport with her complaint on appeal — requesting withdrawal of current appointed counsel and substitution of new appointed counsel [*9] versus requesting withdrawal of current appointed counsel and being given leave to find new retained counsel — thereby waiving appellate review.” In re R.L.L., No. 04-18-00240-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9526, at *8-9 (App.—San Antonio Nov. 21, 2018)

Attorney: “Finally, even a complaint that a party’s due process rights have been denied must be preserved by a proper objection or request. See In re C.J.P., No. 09-15-00370-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 568, 2016 WL 240793, at *2 (Tex. App.—Beaumont Jan. 21, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.); In re G.T., No. 04-16-00436-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 13713, 2016 WL 7445037, at *1-*2 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Dec. 28, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.); J.S. v. Tex. Dep’t of Family and Protective Servs., 511 S.W.3d 145, 156 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2014, no pet.); In re J.N., 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 11101, 2014 WL 4978656, at *2. Mother did not, at any time in the courts below — either during the final hearing before the associate judge nor before the trial court during de novo review — make a constitutional objection or otherwise make either court aware that she was raising a due process claim based on the trial court’s failure to allow her to obtain retained counsel. Rather, before the associate judge, counsel for Mother merely announced not ready due to Mother’s arrest and then stated Mother had requested that “she get another attorney.” At the de novo hearing, when the trial court noted Mother had new counsel, the new attorney merely confirmed his appearance and substitution. He did not raise a complaint about a denial of Mother’s due process rights based [*10] on Mother’s request for “another attorney” before the final hearing in front of the associate judge. Thus, we hold Mother has not preserved her due process complaint for appellate review.” In re R.L.L., No. 04-18-00240-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9526, at *9 (App.—San Antonio Nov. 21, 2018)

Evidence: “To preserve an issue for appellate review, the complaining party must show that he made his complaint to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion that stated the grounds for the ruling sought with sufficient specificity to make the trial court aware of the complaint. Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a)(1). Fenlon’s general statements at the hearing before the tax master that Propel’s evidence did not support its claim and that Propel made errors in calculating the balance on the Note were not sufficiently specific to preserve any complaint concerning Propel’s evidence.” Fenlon v. Harris Cty., No. 01-17-00877-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10633, at *25 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 20, 2018)

Damages: “Cho asserts as an initial matter that, by permitting Kim and Lee to recover damages for both “Misapplication of initial investment” and “Construction Costs,” the trial court’s final judgment impermissibly grants Kim and Lee a double recovery. Kim and Lee contend that Cho waived any error with respect to this contention. We reject their waiver argument. . . . The arguments raised in Cho’s post-verdict motions preserve his double recovery argument for our review. In his new trial motion, Cho objected to the amounts the jury assessed for “Misapplication of initial investment” and “Construction [*40] Costs,” asserting that the dollar amounts were “excessive.” In his motion to modify, correct, or reform the final judgment, Cho challenged the final judgment’s award of damages for “Misapplication of initial investment” and “Construction Costs,” arguing that the damages award “violated the one-satisfaction rule.” Cho requested that the final judgment be corrected to reflect that Kim and Lee were entitled only to a single recovery. These arguments preserve the double recovery challenge Cho advances on appeal.” Cho v. Kun Sik Kim & Veronica Young Lee, No. 14-16-00962-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10871, at *38-40 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 28, 2018)

Discovery: “But POE did not assert the lack-of-relevance arguments in the trial court with the same specificity as it presents those arguments to this Court. For example, POE’s objections to the requests for production are general, form objections and do not explain how the requests are overly broad or why the requests fail “to contain reasonable subject-matter, temporal, and geographic limitations.” Similarly, POE did not explain in its motion to reconsider the associate judge’s first order why the requests seek irrelevant information. POE’s response to Torres’ second answer reiterates that the issue to be determined is whether there is substantial evidence to support the TWC decision and avers that the requests for production “have nothing to do with the extremely narrow issue before the Court-whether the TWC properly [*11] determined Plaintiff was an independent contractor rather than an employee.” POE did not, however, explain specifically that the requests seek irrelevant information because they relate to workers other than Torres and, as such, cannot support Torres’ arguments regarding her individual employment status.” In re Pursuit of Excellence, No. 05-18-00672-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10317, at *10-11 (App.—Dallas Dec. 13, 2018)

Factual Sufficiency: “Though Lott’s motion for new trial mischaracterized the basis for his attack on the damages questions, assertions that the evidence was “insufficient” or “against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence” are both generally classified as issues challenging the factual sufficiency of the evidence. See W. Wendell Hall, Standards of Review in Texas, 38 St. Mary’s L.J. 47, 261 (2006). Lott specifically identified the jury questions he contended were not supported by the evidence and asserted the evidence presented at trial did not support the damages award. Though the motion could have been more specific, we hold it was sufficient to preserve error on his factual sufficiency issues. See Superior Trucks, Inc. v. Allen, 664 S.W.2d 136, 145 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1983, writ ref’d n.r.e.).” Lott v. Brown, No. 12-17-00093-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9676, at *8-9 (App.—Tyler Nov. 28, 2018)

Legal Sufficiency: “Likewise, we conclude Lott preserved his legal sufficiency issue. In his motion for new trial, Lott asserted the evidence conclusively proves, as a matter of law, that Brown was not entitled to recover damages related to the painting because Brown did not complete it and Lott did not accept the painting such as to obligate Lott to pay [*9] Brown under either a contractual or quantum meruit theory. Brown had the burden of proving the damages he sustained in Questions five and seven of the charge. Though Lott’s motion incorrectly labeled his attack “as a matter of law” rather than as a “no evidence” challenge, he identified the basis under which he contended the evidence did not legally support the jury’s award. As such, we conclude that Lott’s motion for new trial preserved error on his legal sufficiency point as to the damages questions.” Lott v. Brown, No. 12-17-00093-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9676, at *8-9 (App.—Tyler Nov. 28, 2018)

Here are several additional cases in which an appeals court held that parties preserved their complaints concerning attorney’s fees, contracts, evidence, the jury charge, valuations, visitation, and voir dire:

Attorney’s Fees: “American Dream requested attorney’s fees in its petition. At trial, its attorney testified as to its fees. After trial, American Dream included the fees that it had incurred through trial in its proposed judgment and discussed these fees in its supporting brief. This suffices to preserve for review American Dream’s challenge to the trial court’s complete denial of fees. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a); Elliott v. Kraft Foods N. Am., 118 S.W.3d 50, 55 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2003, no pet.) (challenge to trial court’s denial of fees preserved by fee request at trial and inclusion of fees in proposed judgment).” KKR RV’s, LLC v. Anderson, No. 01-18-00178-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9901, at *7 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 4, 2018)

Contract: “Before we address the [*26] merits, we first consider the Fleming Firm’s contention that appellants did not preserve their argument in the trial court. At the pre-trial hearing, the trial judge initially indicated that he did not consider appellants to be beneficiaries of the MSA. Later, after trial commenced, appellants requested a specific ruling on whether they could present the MSA to the jury as a contract to which appellants were third-party beneficiaries. The Fleming Firm argued that appellants should not be allowed to proceed on their breach of the MSA claim, and the trial court “sustained” “the objection.” We construe the trial court’s ruling as overruling appellants’ request to proceed on their breach of the MSA theory. Accordingly, appellants preserved error on this point” Harpst v. Fleming, No. 14-17-00209-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10719, at *24-26 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 21, 2018)

Evidence: “Peterson contends that any complaint regarding her evidentiary burden is not preserved for our review because the City failed to object in the trial court. The record demonstrates otherwise. When arguing against the Rule 202 petition at the hearing thereon, the City’s counsel specifically complained that Peterson “offered no evidence for that petition.” Because the City alerted Respondent to the lack of evidence supporting Peterson’s petition, its complaint is preserved for appellate review. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1.” In re City of Tatum, No. 12-18-00285-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10742, at *7 n.2 (App.—Tyler Dec. 21, 2018)

Jury Charge (Damages): “Appellants complain the damages submitted by the trial [*23] court in question four of the charge were an improper measure of damages for a negligent misrepresentation. n. 11 n. 11 Appellants preserved this complaint by objecting, during the charge conference, that appellees were not entitled to recover benefit-of-the-bargain damages, the “damages submissions” were “not pursuant to any statute, any case,” and the damage questions were “not in conformance with the law” and by challenging the measure of damages in their second amended motion for JNOV and their amended motion for new trial.” Inland W. Dall. Lincoln, Ltd. P’ship v. Nguyen, No. 05-17-00151-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10354, at *22-23 (App.—Dallas Dec. 14, 2018)

Valuations: “Ronald argues that he had no obligation to provide the trial court with evidentiary support to permit the trial court to determine a value of the community’s assets and to divide the community estate; he argues that he could rest on his valuation of “zero value” because of the lack of a market value. We disagree. Both parties had an obligation to provide the factfinder with evidence of the companies’ values. Murff, 615 S.W.2d at 698-99; Aduli, 368 S.W.3d at 820. Ronald, who handled the entities’ daily operations, was particularly in a position to provide the trial court with valuation information. He did not. Yet we cannot agree that his failure is equivalent [*28] to what occurred in the cases on which Karen relies, i.e., failing to appear, file an inventory, or respond to valuation questions. Accordingly, we hold that Ronald has not waived his ability to challenge the valuations on appeal.” Mathis v. Mathis, No. 01-17-00449-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10432, at *27-28 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 18, 2018)

Visitation: “The Department contends that the mother did not preserve [*12] the issue of visitation for review. We disagree. Darrington testified at trial that the child’s therapist believed that the adoptive mother should be able to have regular visitation. Based on this testimony, the mother’s counsel argued that the trial court should allow the mother to have contact with the child. We therefore reject the Department’s waiver argument and turn to the merits.” In the Interest of C.L.J.S., No. 01-18-00512-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9753, at *11-12 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Nov. 29, 2018)

Voir dire: “To preserve error related to the trial court’s denial of such a right, the party must make a timely request that makes clear—by words or context—the grounds for the request and obtain a ruling on that request, whether express or implicit. In re Commitment of Hill, 334 S.W.3d 226, 229 (Tex. 2011) (citing Tex. R. App. P. 33.1). Here, the topic was first addressed and ruled on as a ground in the State’s motion in limine, which preserved nothing for appellate review. However, immediately prior to voir dire, Appellant asked for clarification on questions for jury selection. The trial court stated, “Okay. So you can’t get into bestiality.” After the general voir dire questioning but before any challenges for cause were made, Appellant informed the trial court: ‘ And for the record, these were the questions on bestiality that we wanted to address with the venire panel. And it was simply the same questions along [*3] the lines: Is there anyone who would be uncomfortable discussing or listening to sexual acts with animals? And if so, will hearing such details affect your ability to consider this case objectively and follow the instructions of the Court in order to issue a fair and impartial decision?’ The trial court responded, “Okay,” and “All right. Thank you.” We cannot hold under these circumstances that Appellant failed to preserve this issue for review. Thus, we will address the merits of Appellant’s issue.” In re Porter, No. 11-18-00015-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10278, at *2-3 (App.—Eastland Dec. 13, 2018)

When you object to an instruction, on the same grounds you raise on appeal, which the trial court included in the charge, you will have preserved a complaint to that instruction:

Jury Charge: “Second, in response to the civil authorities, A.Z. argues that if a minor’s factual consent is relevant to compensatory damages, then Solis waived his challenge to the charge instruction because he did not request a separate instruction on A.Z.’s comparative fault or proportionate responsibility. This argument is fatally flawed. HN9 A minor cannot be at fault in her own statutory rape. Cf. In re B.W., 313 S.W.3d at 826 (holding that a thirteen-year-old girl cannot be charged with prostitution because children are the victims, rather than the perpetrators, of prostitution); Soliz v. State, 163 Tex. Crim. 508, 293 S.W.2d 662, 662 (Tex. Crim. App. 1956) (holding that the victim in a statutory rape is not an accomplice witness). Also, the waiver point is refuted by the record: Solis submitted a written objection that directly addressed this issue, and that objection [*20] was repeated during the charge conference.” Solis v. S.V.Z., No. 14-17-00162-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9458, at *19-20 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 20, 2018)

Your complaint must be timely:

Choice of Law: “And to the extent that appellants assert that they preserved their choice-of-law issue through their motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”), they did not. See DaimlerChrysler, 362 S.W.3d at 196-97 (post-trial motion raising choice-of-law issue untimely and did not preserve complaint). Accordingly, we hold that appellants have waived their choice-of-law complaint under Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws section 148(2).” Kubbernus v. ECAL Partners, Ltd., No. 01-16-00174-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10652, at *54 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 20, 2018)

Expert Report: “In response, Webster claims Dr. Rushing’s expert report adequately explained how Greenville’s delay in calling 911 breached the applicable standard of care and caused Robinson’s death “due to infarct.” Webster also responds that Greenville waived its right to object to Dr. Rushing’s expert report by issuing and responding to discovery. Webster’s argument Greenville waived its right to move to dismiss Webster’s claims by participating in discovery is without merit. HN6 “Attempting to learn more about the case through discovery does not demonstrate an intent to waive the right to dismiss[.]”” Greenville SNF, LLC v. Webster, No. 05-18-00038-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10760, at *14 (App.—Dallas Dec. 21, 2018)

Notice: “In issue six, Morgan complains that the trial court erred by permitting [*28] Dorrell to testify and provide evidence regarding attorney’s fees and sanctions, because Morgan did not receive forty-five days’ notice of a bench trial. In her cross-issue, Johnson-Todd contends that Morgan waived his complaint by failing to assert it before the hearing began on April 21, 2017. The record shows that Morgan did not object to a lack of notice during the April 21 hearing. The record further shows that the trial court recessed the April 21 hearing, and when the hearing resumed on April 28, 2017, Morgan then complained that he was entitled to forty-five days’ notice. The trial court overruled Morgan’s objection. Based on this record, we conclude that Morgan failed to preserve his complaint for our review. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1.” Johnson-Todd v. Morgan, Nos. 09-17-00168-CV, 09-17-00194-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10617, at *27-28 (App.—Beaumont Dec. 20, 2018)

Visiting Judge: “As discussed above, the Collinses’ objection to the visiting judge was not timely, and the Collinses made no objection to the judge continuing to sit after she mistakenly signed an order granting the untimely objection. Cf. In re S.Q., No. 04-18-00119-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 4688, 2018 WL 3129434, at *1 (Tex. App.—San Antonio June 27, 2018, pet. denied) (mem. op.) (“[A] party impliedly withdraws an objection by participating in a hearing or trial without advising the assigned judge that an objection has been filed and seeking a ruling.” (citing In re Carnera, No. 05-16-00055-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 806, 2016 WL 323654, at *2 (Tex. App.—Dallas Jan. 27, 2016, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.))). The Collinses have therefore not preserved anything for review, and we overrule their second issue.” Collins v. D.R. Horton-Texas Ltd., No. 14-17-00764-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10614, at *9 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 20, 2018)

The complaint you make on appeal must be the same complaint you made at trial:

Arbitration: “In its third issue, Vapro contends the trial court erred in deciding the issue of arbitrability because the incorporation of the rules of the American Arbitration Association into the arbitration clause delegated the issue of arbitrability to the arbitrator. In their brief, the Zinks first respond that Vapro waived this issue by not raising it in the trial court. In its reply brief, Vapro argues that it raised the issue in its motion to compel; however, Vapro does not provide a record citation in support of this assertion, and we could not locate where the issue was raised in the motion. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1(i) (providing arguments in briefs must be supported by appropriate citations to the record). In addition, at the hearing, Vapro’s attorney informed the trial court “we’ve got just one issue based upon Plaintiff’s response” and “the only issue as I interpret it before the Court is whether the employment agreement scope touches the controversy before the Court.” Accordingly, we agree Vapro waived its second issue. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a);” Vapro Supply, LLC v. Zink, No. 04-18-00549-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10200, at *5 (App.—San Antonio Dec. 12, 2018)

Evidence: “First, Mother did not preserve this issue for our review. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a)(1); Tex. R. Evid. 103(a)(1)(A). During Odiachi’s testimony about what Mother and Ann specifically told John about Sam’s injuries, Mother did not object to Odiachi’s testimony as to what Mother had told John to say about Sam’s injuries, only as to what Ann had said. Also, Mother failed to object each time Odiachi testified to John’s statements. Second, John’s statements to Odiachi, a professional counselor, during his counseling sessions were pertinent to Odiachi’s treatment of John and were not excludable as hearsay.” In the Interest of J.H., No. 02-18-00249-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9552, at *14 (App.—Fort Worth Nov. 21, 2018)

WARNING: I’ve not run this to ground, but typically exclusive jurisdiction is an issue which can first be raised on appeal. If you intend to rely on this case, you should independently confirm the accuracy of the holding.  Exclusive jurisdiction: “Court 7 was the court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction and had the authority granted by the Texas Constitution and the government code to render judgment on the child support arrearage and sanctions. In Court 7, J.C.C. claimed Court 4 was the court of continuing jurisdiction and should have heard the child support arrears issue, unlike his present argument that the Title IV-D court had exclusive jurisdiction. J.C.C.’s objection in the trial court does not comport with his issue on appeal. As a result, he did not preserve error. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a)(1);” In the Interest of L.D.C., No. 13-17-00053-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10244, at *11 (App.—Corpus Christi Dec. 13, 2018)

You have to comply with the pertinent rules:

Continuance: “Mother did not file a written motion for continuance. Her oral request on the day of trial is insufficient to preserve error for our review. See id. at 118 (concluding trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying pro se litigant’s motion for continuance when record did not contain written, verified motion);” In the Interest of C.F., No. 14-18-00509-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9888, at *25 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 4, 2018)

You must get a ruling on your complaint:

Discovery: “Appellants requested production of certain documents relating to the 35,000 “rejected” echocardiograms—i.e., the tests that did not meet the MDL court’s criteria for pursuing an opt-out, individual claim against Wyeth. According to appellants, the Fleming Firm refused to produce this evidence, so appellants filed a motion to compel. A motion to compel is included in our record, but we have not located a corresponding order ruling on the request. Appellants assert that “the trial court ruled that it would enter such an order but only on the condition that the Harpst [*31] Plaintiffs pay the Fleming Defendants’ attorneys’ fees incurred in monitoring the Harpst Plaintiffs while they examined these documents,” but appellants have not cited us to an order in the record. Instead, appellants rely upon their counsel’s declaration, which stated that “[d]uring the oral hearing [on the motion to compel], the Court agreed to order production and/or inspection of the requested documents, but only on the condition that the Plaintiffs pay for the Defendants’ attorneys’ fees in making them available.” Appellants’ counsel also stated in the declaration that he objected to the court’s ruling but was overruled. Again, we have reviewed the record and see no such rulings included in either the clerk’s record or reporter’s record. Because the record does not include a ruling adverse to appellants, nothing is presented for our review.” Harpst v. Fleming, No. 14-17-00209-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10719, at *30-31 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 21, 2018)

Jury Charge: “The jury returned, and the court gave a limiting instruction regarding the hearsay contained in the records Self reviewed in forming his opinion. On appeal, Nutt contends that the trial court erred in failing to give the limiting instruction when he initially requested it. Nutt’s complaint was not preserved for our review. In order to preserve a complaint for our review, the action or omission which is alleged as error or abuse of discretion on behalf of the trial court must have been the basis of a timely request, objection, or motion that specified the action that the trial court was requested to take, or to forbear from taking, and an adverse ruling must have been obtained. Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a); Holland v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 1 S.W.3d 91, 94 (Tex. 1999) (per curiam). Here, Nutt initially requested a limiting instruction be given to the jury “prior to Dr. Self going into [*6] detail,” but he failed to obtain the relief requested, receive an adverse ruling, or object to the court’s failure to rule. See Tex. R.App. P. 33.1(a). Therefore, Nutt failed to preserve this issue for our review.” In re Nutt, No. 06-18-00058-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10372, at *5-6 (App.—Texarkana Dec. 18, 2018)

All for now.  I hope this helps.

Yours, Steve Hayes (shayes@stevehayeslaw.com)

www.stevehayeslaw.com

Error Preservation in Texas Civil Cases, November 19, 2018

November 19, 2018

Dear All:

The topics included in this blog entry include:

Some complaints can be raised for the first time on appeal–like ineffective assistance of counsel in a parental right termination case

Attorney

A recent case brought to mind the split of authority on the issue of whether a complaint about the form of a temporary injunction order can first be raised on appeal. Austin and a few other courts say no–but the majority of courts say that this complaint can be first raised on appeal

Temporary Injunction Order

While this does not address how late in the process one may object to a failure to segregate attorneys fees and still preserve error, an objection is timely if made when evidence as to fees is offered

Attorneys fees

You have preserved a complaint about the immateriality of a jury’s answer if you first raise it in a motion to disregard findings and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict

Jury Verdict

You have to comply with other pertinent rules

Bill of Exception
Default Judgment
Factual Sufficiency
Jury Charge

Be careful to not abandon your complaint–e.g., after the granting of a partial summary judgment against you, do not omit from your subsequent amended petition the claim on which summary judgment was granted

Summary Judgment

You have to make the trial court aware of your complaint–set a hearing on your motion

Motions

Your complaint must be timely

Jury Trial

A recent case brought to mind the split of authority on the issue of whether a complaint about the form of a temporary injunction order can first be raised on appeal. Austin and a few other courts say no–but the majority of courts say that this complaint can be first raised on appeal:

Temporary Injunction Order: “In response, the Grahams contend in part that, as a threshold matter, DHJB has failed to preserve for appellate review any argument that the order fails to comply with the specificity requirements of rule 683. This Court has long recognized that a complaint that a temporary injunction fails to comply with rule 683’s specificity requirements is considered one of form that is waived unless it is adequately preserved before the trial court. Shorts, 549 S.W.3d at 880; see Texas Tech Univ. Health Scis. Ctr. v. Rao, 105 S.W.3d 763, 768 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2003, pet. dism’d) (noting split of authority among courts of appeals on whether complaint of failure to comply with rule 683 is waived if not raised before trial court, but ultimately agreeing with this Court’s previous holding in Emerson v. Fires Out, Inc., 735 S.W.2d 492, 494 (Tex. App.-Austin 1987, no writ), that such complaints must be preserved). As this Court has previously explained, “it serves no good purpose to permit appellants to lie in wait and present this error in form for the first time on appeal.” Emerson, 735 S.W.2d at 494. To adequately [*8] preserve an error for review on appeal, rule 33.1 of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure requires the record to show (1) that the complaint was made to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion that stated the grounds for the ruling sought with sufficient specificity to make the trial court aware of the complaint; and (2) that the trial court expressly or implicitly ruled on the request, objection, or motion. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a).

DHJB contends that it has adequately preserved error on its rule 683 complaints by raising the issue in its “Response to Plaintiffs’ Post-Hearing Brief in Support of their Application for Temporary Injunction,” filed shortly after the trial court signed the temporary-injunction order. In particular, DHJB points to that portion of the pleading stating, “The open-ended request for injunctive relief proffered by the Grahams calls for interpretations, inferences, and conclusions as to the affected parties and their respective duties that exceed the limits of the constitution and cannot be granted.” At the conclusion of the responsive pleading, DHJB “requests that the Court deny Plaintiff’s application for a temporary injunction.” We conclude that this pleading fails to preserve error on DHJB’s rule 683 complaints for several [*9] reasons.

First, although the argument relied on by DHJB in its responsive pleading generally asserts that the injunctive relief requested by the Grahams is vague and overbroad, we cannot conclude that the argument was sufficiently specific to make the trial court aware that, in DHJB’s view, the resulting temporary injunction failed to specify how the Grahams would suffer irreparable harm as required by rule 683. Second, HN7 although “magic words” are not required, we cannot conclude that the argument was presented in the form of a “request, objection, or motion” to modify or correct the already-issued temporary-injunction order such that the trial court would have understood that a ruling on the complaint was necessary. Cf. Sand Point Ranch, Ltd. v. Smith, 363 S.W.3d 268, 274 n.11 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2012, no pet.) (noting that error was preserved despite fact that appellant did not use “magic words ‘object’ or ‘objection'”); Taylor v. State, 939 S.W.2d 148, 155 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996) (where context was clear from record, error was preserved despite failure to state “magic words,” “I object”). Finally, even if we were to construe DHJB’s pleading as requesting a ruling on its complaint to the form of the trial court’s temporary-injunction order, nothing in the record suggests that the trial court, in fact, ruled on the complaint, expressly or [*10] implicitly. In short, based on the record before us, including the Grahams’ post-hearing response, we cannot conclude that DHJB brought its complaints about the form of the temporary injunction to the trial court’s attention and obtained a ruling. Thus, DHJB has failed to preserve error on these appellate issues. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a)(1), (2)(A).” DHJB Dev., LLC v. Graham, No. 03-18-00343-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9295, at *7 (App.—Austin Nov. 15, 2018)

While this does not address how late in the process one may object to a failure to segregate attorneys fees and still preserve error, an objection is timely if made when evidence as to fees is offered:

Attorneys fees: “The Corey Appellants assert that the trial court erred by awarding the Rankin Appellees $46,957 in attorney’s fees because the appellees did not properly segregate between recoverable and unrecoverable fees. N. 2 N. 2 The Corey Appellants preserved error on this point by objecting when evidence of attorney’s fees was presented and considered by the trial court. Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a)(1);” Corey v. Rankin, No. 14-17-00752-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9224, at *24 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 13, 2018)

You have preserved a complaint about the immateriality of a jury’s answer if you first raise it in a motion to disregard findings and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict:

Jury Verdict: “Broussard next contends that Orr has waived any complaint about the materiality of the jury’s negative answer to the question of whether Broussard breached his co-guarantor obligations to Orr. According to Broussard, Orr waived this complaint because Orr proposed, and did not object to, this charge question. A complaint that a jury’s answer is immaterial is not a jury-charge [*9] complaint which must be raised before the jury deliberates. See Musallam v. Ali, No. 17-0762, S.W.3d , 2018 Tex. LEXIS 1096, 2018 WL 5304678, at *3 (Tex. Oct. 26, 2018). A party instead can preserve a materiality complaint by raising the issue in a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, a motion to disregard the finding, or a motion for new trial. See BP Am. Prod. Co. v. Red Deer Res., LLC, 526 S.W.3d 389, 402 (Tex. 2017). Because Orr argued in his combined motion to disregard findings and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict that certain jury findings were immaterial, those arguments have been preserved for review.” Orr v. Broussard, No. 14-17-00836-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9325, at *8-9 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 15, 2018)

You have to comply with other pertinent rules:

Bill of Exception: “GayeLynne timely filed a formal bill of exception containing largely the same evidence she presented in her offers of proof at trial and the same exhibits the trial court admitted at trial “for record purposes only.” See Tex. R. App. P. 33.2(e)(1). Tina objected to the bill. When, as here, the parties do not agree on a bill’s contents, the trial judge, after notice and hearing, must (1) find the bill is correct, sign it, and file it with the trial-court clerk; (2) suggest corrections to the complaining party, and if the complaining party agrees to the corrections, sign and file the bill with the trial-court clerk; or (3) if after making suggested corrections, the complaining party will not agree to the corrections, return the bill to the complaining party with the judge’s written refusal on it. Tex. R. App. P. 33.2(c). Here, the trial judge did not hear the bill, sign the bill, or suggest corrections. Thus, any errors complained of in GayeLynne’s bill of exception that were not presented in her offers of proof and exhibits admitted for record purposes only are not preserved for our review.” Estate of Luce, No. 02-17-00097-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9341, at *26 n.11 (App.—Fort Worth Nov. 15, 2018)

Default Judgment: “By his first and fourth issues, Guillen challenges the default judgment on its merits. However, Guillen failed to preserve error because he did not raise these issues in a motion for new trial to set aside the default judgment. HN9 Rule 324 provides that a point in a motion for new trial is a prerequisite to a complaint on appeal on which evidence must be heard. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 324(b)(1). As examples of such complaints, rule 324 identifies complaints involving the “failure to set aside a judgment by default.” Id.; McAllen Med. Ctr. v. Rivera, 89 S.W.3d 90, 94 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2002, no pet.). Guillen makes factual assertions in his brief which “underscore the need for an evidentiary hearing.” See Hendricks v. Barker, 523 S.W.3d 152, 157 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, no pet.). Guillen contends that for several years, local authorities have been taxing him on two properties that do not belong to him, one of which is a local cemetery. Guillen contends, without any record citation, that each year the county’s “clerks would assure Appellants that just pay that one year and Appellants’ names would be removed from the tax rolls.” Guillen alleges that the promised removal never occurred, and, instead, his taxes increased. These sorts of factual conflicts must be resolved in the trial court before we, the appellate court, can address them. See [*13] id. Because Guillen never called for an evidentiary hearing or presented these issues in a motion for new trial, he has preserved nothing for appellate review.” Guillen v. Cameron Cty. & La Feria Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 13-16-00682-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9307, at *12-13 (App.—Corpus Christi Nov. 15, 2018)

Factual Sufficiency: “A complaint that the evidence is factually insufficient to support a jury answer, or that the answer is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, must have been raised in a motion for new trial. Tex. R. Civ. P. 324(b)(2)-(3); In re M.S., 115 S.W.3d 534, 547 (Tex. 2003). Neither Mother nor Father filed a motion for new trial. Because a motion for new trial is a prerequisite to a factual sufficiency challenge in a jury trial, Mother and Father have forfeited their complaints that the evidence is factually insufficient to support the best-interest findings against them. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 324(b)(2)-(3).” In the Interest of J.S., No. 02-18-00164-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9186, at *5 (App.—Fort Worth Nov. 8, 2018)

Jury Charge: “As for Blevins’s final issue concerning the trial court’s failure to give his requested jury instruction, that issue was not preserved for appeal. Blevins apparently asked for a “part two” to the instruction that was actually given. The instruction given was: “State Farm issued a policy to William Blevins providing coverage for UM/UIM damages and that such policy was in effect on October 2, 2011, the date of the collision at issue.” Although the record does not contain the exact language that Blevins sought to include as part two, from the parties’ discussions on the record of proposed stipulations at the trial’s beginning, we understand that he wanted a second jury instruction to this effect: that “the parties further stipulate that William Blevins’ UM/UIM policy provided coverage up to the limit of his policy for damages, if any, that were caused in this collision [*41] and for which there was no coverage, or insufficient coverage, on the liability policy or policies of the at-fault driver or drivers.” That language was never submitted in written form either as a suggested stipulation or as a requested jury instruction. Blevins failed to preserve error, if any, in the omission of an instruction along the lines of the above language. His proposed jury questions and instructions that appear in the clerk’s record did not contain any instruction at all about UIM coverage, nor does the record contain the proposed written charge that the parties discussed at the close of all evidence and that ostensibly contained a secondary instruction similar to the above proposed stipulation.. . . . Rule 278 provides that “[f]ailure to submit a definition or instruction shall not be deemed a ground for reversal of the judgment unless a substantially correct definition or instruction has been requested in writing and tendered by the party complaining of the judgment.” Tex. R. Civ. P. 278;” Blevins v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 02-17-00276-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9344, at *40-42 (App.—Fort Worth Nov. 15, 2018)

Be careful to not abandon your complaint–e.g., after the granting of a partial summary judgment against you, do not omit from your subsequent amended petition the claim on which summary judgment was granted:

Summary Judgment: “Filing an amended petition [after the granting of an interlocutory partial summary judgment] that does not include a cause of action effectively nonsuits or voluntarily dismisses the omitted claim as of the time the pleading is filed, unless circumstances indicate otherwise, such as when the amended petition contains statements demonstrating an intent to preserve the omitted claim. FKM P’ship, Ltd. v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Hous. Sys., 255 S.W.3d 619, 632-33 (Tex. 2008); Spellmann v. Love, 534 S.W.3d 685, 690 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2017, pet. denied). The same principle holds true for an amended petition that omits a previously named defendant. Webb v. Jorns, 488 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Tex. 1972); Spellmann, 534 S.W.3d at 690. For appellate purposes, abandoning a cause of action or a defendant in an amended pleading waives any error by the trial court regarding the abandoned cause of action or defendant.” Lopez v. Crest Gateway, LP, No. 02-17-00429-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9182, at *4 (App.—Fort Worth Nov. 8, 2018)

You have to make the trial court aware of your complaint–set a hearing on your motion:

Motions: “In conclusion, the record shows that Ayala-Gutierrez never asked the trial court to set hearings on his motions [for a bench warrant]. Thus, he failed to preserve [*9] his complaints that the trial court never ruled on motions for our review. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.” Ayala-Gutierrez v. Strickland, No. 09-17-00119-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9333, at *8-9 (App.—Beaumont Nov. 15, 2018)

Your complaint must be timely:

Jury Trial: “A party must object to proceeding without a jury when the case is called to trial or the argument is waived. In re W.G.O. III, No. 02-12-00059-CV, 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 189, 2013 WL 105661, at *2 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth Jan. 10, 2013, pet. denied) (mem. op.). The record shows the parties failed to timely object to the trial court’s denial of Father’s perfected right to a jury trial. The parties were initially called at 9:45 a.m. Mother’s and Father’s counsel were both present on their behalves and counsel for all parties announced “ready.” The trial court instructed them to return at 1:00 p.m. When they returned, the trial court acknowledged the case had been set for jury trial and that Mother and Father were not present. After waiting approximately fifteen minutes, the court announced it would proceed to trial before the court. Again, counsel for all parties announced they were ready and proceeded to trial without objection. It was not until after [*13] the State passed its first witness that Father’s counsel inquired about the jury and indicated that he did not know how Father wished to proceed. Shortly thereafter, Mother’s counsel stated, “Judge, if I may, I just also want to voice my objection to preserve error for my client with respect to the jury trial demand.” This attempt to preserve error was untimely because the bench trial had already commenced. Therefore, we conclude Mother and Father waived any right to complain on appeal about the trial judge’s alleged error.” In the Interest of A.Ja.T., No. 05-18-00705-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9358, at *12-13 (App.—Dallas Nov. 15, 2018)

As usual, there were many cases in which courts held that parties failed to preserve their complaint by not raising it at all in the trial court.

I hope this helps.  Y’all have a great Thanksgiving.

Yours,

Steve Hayes (shayes@stevehayeslaw.com; www.stevehayeslaw.com)

Error Preservation in Texas Civil Cases, November 6, 2018

November 6, 2018

Dear All:

The cases included in this blog entry include:

Some complaints can be raised for the first time on appeal–like ineffective assistance of counsel in a parental right termination case

Attorney

Your complaint must be timely

Defective Verdict
Evidence

You have to comply with other pertinent rules

Evidence
Legal and Factual Sufficiency
Notice
Notice
Summary Judgment (homestead)

You must get a ruling on your complaint

Attorney
Motion to Compel

Some complaints can be raised for the first time on appeal–like ineffective assistance of counsel in a parental right termination case:

Attorney: “A complaint of ineffective assistance of counsel may be raised for the first time on direct appeal. See J.O.A., 283 S.W.3d at 340. A motion for new trial can be useful because it allows the complaining party to develop a record to support his complaint. However, the Department has not directed us to any authority suggesting a motion for new trial is a prerequisite to preserve error on ineffective assistance of counsel. The appellant may be unsuccessful in that complaint if the record below is not sufficiently developed, but the lack of merit in the complaint is distinct from the appellant’s right to assert the complaint.” In the Interest of Z.M.R., No. 14-18-00461-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8960, at *25 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 1, 2018)

Your complaint must be timely:

Defective Verdict: While the following may be a correct statement of the law–or may not be–I think it far too assertive as to the holding in Menchaca, as to which no majority of the Court dealt with this issue (though you have to have a scorecard to keep track of who voted for what in Menchaca): “Even were we to conclude that Davis has identified a conflict in the jury’s answers, [*14] which we do not, it is well-established that HN1 “to preserve error based on fatally conflicting jury answers, parties must raise that objection before the trial court discharges the jury.” See USAA Texas Lloyds Co., 545 S.W.3d at 518. When the alleged error is an incomplete, nonresponsive, or conflicting jury verdict, rule 295 requires the trial court to correct the error by providing additional instructions and retiring the jury “for further deliberations.” Id. (quoting Tex. R. Civ. P. 295). Once the trial court has discharged the jury, it cannot reform the conflicting answers as rule 295 requires. Id. If the trial court does not identify a conflict and no party raises it before the court discharges the jury, “the conflict provides no basis for reversal on appeal, even if it is ‘fatal.'” Id. at 520. We conclude that, because Davis did not raise any objections to the jury’s answers before the jury was discharged, error, if any, is not preserved.” Davis v. Vaughters, No. 01-17-00612-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8951, at *13-14 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Nov. 1, 2018)

Evidence: “After Dr. Davis showed these video clips, defense counsel continued to question Dr. Davis about his employers’ research generally before turning to the issue of whether he had an opinion regarding the San Lorenzo Church fire. The record shows that defense counsel finished [*111] with the direct-examination, and the Families cross-examined Dr. Davis for some time. During a break, counsel for the Families raised objections to various videos that Dr. Davis had shown specifically related to the issues of frosting and a residual flame in the event of a propane leak and moved for a mistrial. The Families contend that their objection to Dr. Davis’ use of the videos after lengthy questioning on both direct and cross-examination was timely because the defendants failed to provide Dr. Davis’ file to the Families in time for the deposition or trial. However, Tex.R.App.P. 33.1 requires an objection to be timely, an “[o]bjection to the admission of evidence must be made when the evidence is offered and not after it has been introduced.” Wenco of El Paso/Las Cruces, Inc. v. Nazario, 783 S.W.2d 663, 665 (Tex.App.–El Paso 1989, no writ). Because the Families did not object to the videos until after a substantial amount of time had passed, the objection was not timely and this issue was not preserved for appellate review.” Porter v. Heritage Operating, L.P., No. 08-13-00002-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8902, at *110-11 (App.—El Paso Oct. 31, 2018)

You have to comply with other pertinent rules:

Evidence: “Here, we do not find, and Jennings does not direct us to, any place in the record in which he actually offered in the trial court, either at the hearing on the motion for enforcement or at the hearing on his motion for new trial, the evidence and testimony, i.e., regarding his payment of taxes due on, and any lack of insurability of, the Yida property, that he complains was excluded. See Akukoro, 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 15302, 2013 WL 6729661, at *6; Fletcher, 57 S.W.3d at 606. There being no actual offer of the complained-of evidence and testimony in the [*10] trial court, no ruling by the trial court, and no offer of proof or bill of exception, we conclude that Jennings has waived any error in such exclusion.” Jennings v. Martinez, No. 01-17-00553-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8520, at *9 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Oct. 18, 2018)

Legal and Factual Sufficiency: “ In a jury trial, a legal sufficiency issue must be preserved through one of the following procedural steps in the trial court: (1) a motion for instructed verdict; (2) a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict; (3) an objection to the submission of the question to the jury; (4) a motion to disregard the jury’s answer to a vital fact question; or (5) a motion for new trial. T.O. Stanley Boot Co. v. Bank of El Paso, 847 S.W.2d 218, 220-21 (Tex. 1992); Salinas v. Fort Worth Cab & Baggage Co., 725 S.W.2d 701, 704 (Tex. 1987). Further, to complain about the factual sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury finding, a party must file a motion for new trial. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 324(b). A review of the record reveals that J.C. did not take any of the procedural steps necessary to advance either his legal or factual sufficiency challenges for appellate review. Thus, J.C.’s arguments regarding the sufficiency of the evidence to support the temporary commitment order are not preserved.” In the Interest of J.C., No. 10-18-00214-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8914, at *4 (App.—Waco Oct. 31, 2018)

Notice: “Tyhan first contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Tyhan’s motion for a new trial because Tyhan did not receive notice of the hearing on Cintas’s motion for summary judgment.

We review a trial court’s denial of a motion for new trial for abuse of discretion. Waffle House, Inc. v. Williams, 313 S.W.3d 796, 813 (Tex. 2010). But we do so only if the movant has preserved its complaint for appellate review; if a movant seeks a new trial on a ground on which evidence must be heard by the trial court, the movant must obtain a hearing on its new-trial motion to preserve error. See TEX. R. APP. P. 33.1(b); Felt v. Comerica Bank, 401 S.W.3d 802, 808 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, no pet.). A movant must present evidence to show lack of notice as to a trial setting or hearing. Hendricks v. Barker, 523 S.W.3d 152, 157 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, no pet.); Wilson v. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp., 897 S.W.2d 818, 820 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1994, no writ).

The record does not show that Tyhan set its motion for hearing, or requested that the trial court consider it by written submission, and the trial court never acted on the motion. Instead, Tyhan’s motion for new trial was overruled by operation of law. Tyhan therefore has not preserved its complaint as to lack of notice for our review. See TEX. R. APP. P. 33.1(b); Felt, 401 S.W.3d at 808; see also R & G Transp. v. Fleetmatics, No. 01-14-00891-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 624, 2016 WL 268553, at *2 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 21, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.)  (no abuse of discretion when movant fails to set new-trial motion for hearing and it is overruled by operation of law).” Tyhan, Inc. v. Cintas Corp. No. 2, No. 01-18-00027-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8847, at *3 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Oct. 30, 2018)

Notice: “Johnson and Walton asked the trial court to [*3] set aside its default judgment in their motion for new trial [based on lack of notice of the lawsuit and the default hearing, apparently], but they did not set the motion for a hearing, or request that the trial court consider it by written submission. The trial court never acted on the motion. Instead, the motion was denied by operation of law. Because a hearing on the motion for new trial was required to preserve the issues raised in the motion for our review, we overrule their appellate complaint. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(b).” Johnson v. Lee, No. 01-17-00773-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8851, at *2-3 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Oct. 30, 2018)

Summary Judgment (homestead): “In their second issue, the Brannicks argue that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because Nationstar did not establish its entitlement to judicial foreclosure. Specifically, the Brannicks assert that Nationstar failed to overcome an alleged presumption of invalidity that attaches to a home-equity loan under the Texas Constitution, failed to demonstrate that the loan complies with all the requirements of Article XVI, Section 50(a) of the Texas Constitution, and failed to produce a copy of the Note signed by both appellants. Nationstar asserts that the Brannicks waived both arguments by not presenting them to the trial court. “Issues not expressly presented to the trial court by written motion, answer or other response shall not be considered on appeal as grounds for reversal” of a summary judgment. Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(c); ExxonMobil Corp. v. Lazy R Ranch, LP, 511 S.W.3d 538, 545 (Tex. 2017). The Brannicks argued the statute of limitations and “chain of title errors” in their response to Nationstar’s motion but did not assert any of the arguments they now make on appeal. Consequently, we conclude that the Brannicks have waived each of these arguments. n. 4 n. 4 The Brannicks argue that this issue cannot be waived because it amounts to a challenge to the legal sufficiency of Nationstar’s grounds for summary judgment. See, e.g., Amedisys, Inc. v. Kingwood Home Health Care, LLC, 437 S.W.3d 507, 512 (Tex. 2014) (stating rule that nonmovant may challenge “the legal sufficiency of the grounds presented by the movant” for the first time on appeal). However, the Texas Supreme Court has held that the terms and conditions in section 50(a) “only assume constitutional significance when their absence in a loan’s terms is used as a shield from foreclosure.” Garofolo v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, L.L.C., 497 S.W.3d 474, 478 (Tex. 2016); see Wood v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 505 S.W.3d 542, 546 (Tex. 2016) (observing that “section 50(a) does not create substantive rights beyond a defense to foreclosure of a home-equity lien securing a constitutionally noncompliant loan”). The Brannicks did not raise section 50(a) in the trial court as a defense to foreclosure and they may not do so for the first time on appeal. See Watson v. Tipton, 274 S.W.3d 791, 800 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2008, pet. denied) (“Accordingly, Appellants had to affirmatively plead homestead and cannot raise it for the first time on appeal.”).” Brannick v. Aurora Loan Servs., LLC, No. 03-17-00308-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8981, at *10 (App.—Austin Nov. 2, 2018)

You must get a ruling on your complaint:

Attorney: “Next, Jamal complains that the trial court did not address his motion to appoint counsel to represent him. HN4 As a prerequisite to presenting a complaint for appellate review, the record must show that the complaining party made the complaint to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion. Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a). The trial court must either rule on the request, objection, or motion, expressly or implicitly, or refuse to rule, and the complaining party must object to the refusal. Id. The record contains no evidence that Jamal received a ruling on his motion to appoint counsel or that he objected to the court’s refusal to rule. He therefore has not preserved this issue for our review.” Jamal v. Woodbridge Crossing, No. 01-16-00726-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8849, at *4 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Oct. 30, 2018)

Motion to Compel: “BFM simultaneously filed a separate motion to compel Chastain’s deposition and requested that the trial court rule that Botrie’s communications with Chastain were not privileged. The trial court denied the motion for a continuance by written order but never ruled on the motion to compel. Because the trial court neither ruled on nor refused to rule on the motion to compel, we conclude that BFM failed to preserve error, if any. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a).” Barton Food Mart, Inc. v. Botrie, No. 03-17-00292-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8673, at *11 n.5 (App.—Austin Oct. 25, 2018)

As usual, a number of cases dealt with situations in which parties did not raise their complaints in the trial court.

I hope this helps.  Y’all take good care.

Yours, Steve Hayes

shayes@stevehayeslaw.comwww.stevehayeslaw.com

Error Preservation in Texas Civil Cases, October 25, 2018

October 25, 2018

Dear Folks:

The cases included in this blog entry cover the following error preservation topics:

Your complaint must be sufficiently specific

Constitutional

You can first complain on appeal about the fact that the summary judgment purports to decide a claim not addressed in the summary judgement motion-an error preservation doctrine seemingly at odds with the fact that you must complain about a defect in a non-msj judgment in the trial court to preserve error

You must comply with the pertinent rules–such Rule 103 requiring an offer of proof when the trial court excludes your evidence

You must get a ruling on your complaint

Parties
Severance

And now, for the specific topics:

Your complaint must be sufficiently specific. The courts don’t decide very many error preservation fights on the specificity question, so you might want to take note of this case:

Constitutional: “Mindful of the fact that a party need not employ hyper-technical or formalistic words or phrases to preserve a complaint, see Clark, 365 S.W.3d at 339, we conclude that Wargocz’s objection was insufficiently specific to alert the trial court to the facial challenge he attempts to raise on appeal. With regard to his due-process objection, Wargocz made no reference to the Constitution or the Due Process Clause, nor did he challenge the validity of the harassment or stalking statutes on the ground that their use of the phrase “harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend” rendered them impermissibly vague. And nothing else in the record indicates that the trial court understood Wargocz’s objection as including the facial attack he has asserted on appeal. See State v. Rosseau, 396 S.W.3d 550, 555 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (noting an objection is sufficiently specific if the record demonstrates the trial court understood the basis of the objecting party’s request). Accordingly, because Wargocz never raised his facial challenge in the trial court, he failed to preserve that issue for review.” Wargocz v. Brewer, No. 02-17-00178-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8339, at *14-15 (App.—Fort Worth Oct. 11, 2018)

You can first complain on appeal about the fact that the summary judgment purports to decide a claim not addressed in the summary judgement motion-an error preservation doctrine seemingly at odds with the fact that you must complain about a defect in a non-msj judgment in the trial court to preserve error:

Summary Judgment: “In its first responsive argument, Roberts contends that Sanchez waived any argument that Roberts’s motion failed to address Sanchez’s purported strict products liability claim. Roberts notes that Sanchez did not file special exceptions and did not complain in either her motion to reconsider or motion for new trial that the trial court granted summary judgment on a claim not addressed in Roberts’s motion. Roberts contends that, because Sanchez failed to raise this issue in the trial court, the issue cannot be considered on appeal as grounds for reversal.

We disagree with Roberts’s contention. A non-movant is not required to except to a movant’s failure to assert specified grounds in a motion for summary judgment. McConnell v. Southside Indep. Sch. Dist., 858 S.W.2d 337, 342 (Tex. 1993) (plurality op.). Summary judgment cannot be granted except on the [*4] grounds expressly presented in the motion. Johnson v. Brewer & Pritchard, P.C., 73 S.W.3d 193, 204 (Tex. 2002). We, therefore, cannot affirm summary judgment on a basis not stated in Roberts’s motion. See McConnell, 858 S.W.2d at 339. Sanchez has not waived her complaint that the trial court granted summary judgment on grounds that were not presented in the motion.” Sanchez v. Roberts Truck Ctr. of Tex., LLC, No. 07-17-00213-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8213, at *3-4 (App.—Amarillo Oct. 9, 2018)

Take note that, with regard to complaints defects in judgments not the product of summary judgments, one has to preserve those complaints in a motion for new trial or motion to modify/correct/reform the judgment. Solomon v. Steitler, 312 S.W.3d 46, 60 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2010, no pet.), and cases cited therein; Robles v. Mann, No. 13-14-00211-CV, 2016 WL 1613316, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 4135, at *15 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Apr. 21, 2016, no pet.); D&KW Family, L.P. v. Rampart Capital Corp., No. 01-01-00156-CV, 2002 WL 1585920, 2002 Tex. App. LEXIS 5100, at *5 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] July 18, 2002, pet. denied); Holland v. Hayden, 901 S.W.2d 763, 765 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1995, writ denied)

You must comply with the pertinent rules–such Rule 103 requiring an offer of proof when the trial court excludes your evidence:

Evidence: “Thus, when a trial court excludes evidence, the proponent must preserve the evidence in the record in order to complain of its exclusion on appeal. Fletcher, 57 S.W.3d at 606; see also Tex. R. Evid. 103(a). If a party does not make an offer of proof, it must introduce the excluded evidence into the record by a formal bill of exception. Sw. Country Enters., Inc. v. Lucky Lady Oil Co., 991 S.W.2d 490, 494-95 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1999, pet. denied); see also Tex. R. App. P. 33.2. Failure to demonstrate the substance of the excluded evidence or testimony through an offer of proof or bill of exception results in a waiver of any error in its exclusion. Akukoro, 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 15302, 2013 WL 6729661, at *6; Sw. Country Enters., 991 S.W.2d at 494. Here, we do not find, and Jennings does not direct us to, any place in the record in which he actually offered in the trial court, either at the hearing on the motion for enforcement or at the hearing on his motion for new trial, the evidence and testimony, i.e., regarding his payment of taxes due on, and any lack of insurability of, the Yida property, that he complains was excluded. See Akukoro, 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 15302, 2013 WL 6729661, at *6; Fletcher, 57 S.W.3d at 606. There being no actual offer of the complained-of evidence and testimony in the [*10] trial court, no ruling by the trial court, and no offer of proof or bill of exception, we conclude that Jennings has waived any error in such exclusion.” Jennings v. Martinez, No. 01-17-00553-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8520, at *9 (App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Oct. 18, 2018)

You must get a ruling on your complaint:

Parties: “Relevant to our analysis, to preserve error for appeal, a party must show that after making its complaint, the trial court either (1) “ruled on the request, objection, or motion, either expressly or implicitly” or (2) “refused to rule on the request, objection, or motion, and the complaining party objected to the refusal.” See TEX. R. APP. P. 33.1. Here, although CE filed an application for status conference requesting for the trial court to add Unison Site Management, LLC and T14 MelTel to the suit and for production of certain documents, CE failed to obtain a ruling from the trial court. At the hearing on the application for status conference and on the competing motions for summary judgment, CE argued that the trial court was required to add the above-listed parties. At  the end of the hearing, the trial court denied CE’s motion for summary judgment. Unison asked the trial court to clarify that it meant it was granting Unison’s motion for summary judgment, and the trial court stated that it was. The Norrells also asked the trial court to clarify if it was dismissing them from the cause, and the trial court stated it was. However, CE did not ask the trial court for a ruling on its request to add the parties listed above or to rule on its request for production. Thus, the trial court did not explicitly rule on CE’s requests. Moreover, we conclude that by granting summary judgment in favor of Unison and the Norrells, the trial court did not implicitly deny CE’s requests. See Allen ex rel. B.A. v. Albin, 97 S.W.3d 655, 662 (Tex. App.-Waco 2002, no pet.) (explaining that a ruling on a motion for summary judgment does not constitute an implicit ruling on the non-prevailing party’s objections to summary judgment evidence). Therefore, we conclude that CE failed to preserve error. We overrule CE’s fifth issue.” Enhancement v. Norrell, No. 13-16-00581-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8456, at *16-17 (App.—Corpus Christi Oct. 18, 2018)

Severance: “We overrule Appellants Rieder, Rapee, and Cadbury’s second issue arguing that the trial court should have dismissed Intervenor Meeker’s first claim for declaratory relief—regarding his right to hire Woods without incurring liability under the Cadbury Operating Agreement—for lack of personal jurisdiction because that claim falls within the scope of the forum-selection clause. See, e.g., Bloom Bus. Jets, 522 S.W.3d at 770. Because—as pointed out by Intervenors—Appellants Rieder, Rapee, and Cadbury did not set a hearing on their motion to sever and abate Intervenor Meeker’s second claim for declaratory relief regarding his right to terminate the CQuentia/Cadbury Series Agreement and because the trial court did not rule on it, Appellants Rieder, Rapee, and Cadbury’s complaint that the trial court did not grant that motion is not properly before us. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1 (stating that to “preserve a complaint for appellate review, the record must show . . . that the trial court . . . ruled on the request . . . either expressly or implicitly”).” Rieder v. Meeker, No. 02-17-00176-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8537, at *33 (App.—Fort Worth Oct. 18, 2018)

That’s all for now, buckaroos.  Y’all have a good weekend.

Yours,

Steve Hayes (shayes@stevehayeslaw.com)

www.stevehayeslaw.com

Error Preservation in Texas Civil Cases, October 8, 2018

October 8, 2018

Dear All:

While it involved a complaint that was not preserved, and I have typically quit mentioning those in this blog, you need to read both the majority and dissenting opinions in a case which dealt with “agreed to” language in a judgment, and when such language waives a complaint in an agreed judgment (and the effect of that waiver).  I promise the facts alone are worth reading.  In the Estate of Nielsen, No. 02-17-00251-CV, __WL__, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7915, at *19-20 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Sep. 27, 2018, no pet. hist.). These opinions teach us the fraught-filled nature of this area of the law.

The cases summarized below in this blog entry include cases dealing with:

You have to get a ruling on your objections to summary judgment evidence

Summary Judgment Evidentiary Objections

Some complaints may be raised for the first time on appeal

Affidavit
Juvenile

To preserve your complaint, you must comply with other pertinent rules

Findings of Fact (Family Law)
Lack of Capacity
Lack of Capacity

The complaint you raise on appeal must be the complaint you raised at trial

Damages
Legal and Factual Sufficiency

You have to get a ruling on your objections to summary judgment evidence–and while the Supreme Court has indicated that such a ruling may be implied (after previously telling us it had to be in writing and signed), such a ruling is not implied by a “ruling on the motion for summary judgment” nor the fact that “the trial court’s judgment in this case includes a Mother Hubbard clause stating that ‘[a]ll other relief not expressly granted is denied[,]”:

Summary Judgment Evidentiary Objections: “On appeal, Houle complains that the records attached to Trittipoe’s affidavit were not properly authenticated, were incomplete, and were not true and complete copies of the originals because they bore redaction of Houle’s specific account number with Capital One.

These purported defects are purely formal. See Well Sols., Inc. v. Stafford, 32 S.W.3d 313, 317 (Tex.App.–San Antonio 2000, no pet.)(objection to deposition or affidavit, that is, statement in writing of a fact or facts signed by party making statement, sworn to before officer authorized to administer oaths, and officially certified to by officer under his seal of office, on basis that statement does not establish foundation for statement is purely formal defect), citing Leggat, 904 S.W.2d at 645-46. Because Houle failed to object to the purported formal defects and secure a ruling from the trial court in order to preserve error, he may not raise these complaints for the first time on appeal. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(f); see Seim, 551 S.W.3d at 166, citing Well Sols., Inc., 32 S.W.3d at 317.

Although the Texas Supreme Court has recognized that an implicit ruling may be sufficient to preserve an issue for appellate review, it has clarified that the trial court’s ruling must be clearly implied by the record. See Seim, 551 S.W.3d at 166, citing In the Interest of Z.L.T., J.K.H.T., and Z.N.T., 124 S.W.3d 163, 165 (Tex. 2003). In Seim, the Court acknowledged the correct reasoning of the San Antonio Court [*13] of Appeals in Well Sols., Inc. v. Stafford, 32 S.W.3d 313, 317 (Tex.App.–San Antonio 2000, no pet.) when that court declared: “[R]ulings on a motion for summary judgment and objections to summary judgment evidence are not alternatives; nor are they concomitants. Neither implies a ruling–or any particular ruling–on the other. In short, a trial court’s ruling on an objection to summary judgment evidence is not implicit in its ruling on the motion for summary judgment; a ruling on the objection is simply not ‘capable of being understood’ from the ruling on the motion for summary judgment.” See Seim, 551 S.W.3d at 165.

We agree that a trial court’s ruling on an objection to summary judgment evidence is not implicit in its ruling on the motion for summary judgment. See Seim, 551 S.W.3d at 166, citing Well Sols., Inc., 32 S.W.3d at 317. Moreover, that the trial court’s judgment in this case includes a Mother Hubbard clause stating that “[a]ll other relief not expressly granted is denied[,]” does not constitute a showing that the trial court ruled on Houle’s objections to Capital One’s summary judgment evidence. See Lissiak v. SW Loan OO, L.P., 499 S.W.3d 481, 488 (Tex.App.–Tyler 2016, no pet.). We conclude the trial court did not implicitly rule on Houle’s objections to Capital One’s summary-judgment evidence. See Seim, 551 S.W.3d at 166. As these complaints have not been preserved, they are waived. Tex.R.App.P. 33.1.” Houle v. Capital One Bank United States, No. 08-16-00234-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7942, at *12-13 (App.—El Paso Sep. 28, 2018)

Some complaints may be raised for the first time on appeal–like a defect of substance in an affidavit, to wit, the failure to demonstrate lack of personal knowledge, and a juvenile’s complaint that he was not competent to stand trial on his delinquency trial:

Affidavit: “Houle contends on appeal as he did in the trial court that Trittipoe failed to demonstrate adequate personal knowledge underlying her testimony for proving up the attached Capital One business records. We have previously held that a lack of personal knowledge, reflected in the affiant’s testimony itself and not just as the lack of a formal recitation, is a defect of substance that may be raised for the first time on appeal.” Houle v. Capital One Bank United States, No. 08-16-00234-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7942, at *14 (App.—El Paso Sep. 28, 2018)

Juvenile: “Thus, both the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Legislature have recognized that, in a criminal proceeding, the procedural safeguards necessary to guard the defendant’s right not to be tried when she is incompetent to stand trial must include a requirement that the trial court, on its own motion, make an inquiry into the defendant’s competency to stand trial when sufficient evidence comes to its attention. Because the failure to observe adequate procedures to protect this right deprives the defendant  of her due process right to a fair trial, we find that a complaint asserting the failure of a trial court on its own motion to make inquiry into the defendant’s competency to stand trial is included among the waivable-only rights that may be asserted for the first time on appeal. See Pate v. Robinson, 383 U.S. 375, 384, 86 S. Ct. 836, 15 L. Ed. 2d 815 (1966). Therefore, we find that H.C. did not have to preserve her complaint in the juvenile court.” In re H.C., No. 06-18-00006-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8008, at *16-17 (App.—Texarkana Oct. 3, 2018)

To preserve your complaint, you must comply with other pertinent rules:

Findings of Fact (Family Law): “Janice additionally complains that the trial court’s findings of fact do not address her other two claims for reimbursement, but she did not request that the court make additional findings on these reimbursement claims. A trial court must issue written findings of fact if a party requests them. Tex.R.Civ.P. 296. In a suit for dissolution of marriage, the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law shall include, in addition to any other findings or conclusions required or authorized by law, the characterization and value of all assets, liabilities, claims, and offsets [*15] on which disputed evidence has been presented. Tex.Fam.Code Ann. § 6.711(a)(West Supp. 2017). A request for findings of fact and conclusions of law made under Section 6.711 must conform to the Rules of Civil Procedure. Tex.Fam.Code Ann. § 6.711(b)(West Supp. 2017). The findings of fact and conclusions of law required by Section 6.711 are in addition to any other findings or conclusions required or authorized by law. Tex.Fam.Code Ann. § 6.711(c)(West Supp. 2017). After a trial court files original findings of fact and conclusions of law, any party may timely request that the trial court make specified additional or amended findings or conclusions. Tex.R.Civ.P. 298. When a party fails to timely request additional findings of fact and conclusions of law, it is deemed to have waived the right to complain on appeal of the court’s failure to enter additional findings. . . . The trial court did not make any express findings on Janice’s claims for reimbursement of the community for the payment of ad valorem taxes on Billy’s separate real property and for payments on loans to acquire equipment, livestock, feed, and to build improvements for the Dairy. Janice did not request additional findings from the court. Consequently, Janice has waived her complaints related to these reimbursement claims.” Barton v. Barton, No. 08-15-00110-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7940, at *14-16 (App.—El Paso Sep. 28, 2018)

Lack of Capacity: “In his sixth issue, Hawkins asserts that he is not doing business as Genesis II Church of Health and Healing Chapter 119. This appears to be a challenge to the capacity in which Hawkins was sued, and such a challenge must be raised in a verified answer. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 93. Because Hawkins did not file a verified answer challenging capacity, this argument has not been preserved for our review. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a).” Hawkins v. State, No. 14-17-00713-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7863, at *9 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Sep. 27, 2018)

Lack of Capacity: “CCI’s failure to raise capacity [*8] prior to the granting of the summary judgment is fatal because capacity is conceived as a procedural issue dealing with the procedural qualifications of a party to proceed with litigation, and capacity issues are waived if not timely raised. . . . Stated differently, because CCI did not raise its capacity contention prior to the trial court’s summary-judgment order resolving liability under Circle X’s contractual claims, CCI waived this contention. See Lovato, 171 S.W.3d at 849; Nootsie, 925 S.W.2d at 662; see also Tex. R. Civ. P. 93(1). . . .Here, CCI challenges Circle X’s ability to file suit under the deed, which, in light of the aforementioned case law, is most aptly a capacity challenge, not a standing challenge.” CCI Gulf Coast Upstream, LLC v. Circle X Camp Cooley, Ltd., No. 10-17-00325-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7828, at *7-9 (App.—Waco Sep. 26, 2018)

The complaint you raise on appeal must be the complaint you raised at trial:

Damages: “The Martins argue that an attempt to recover lost profits is an attempt to recover on the contract; but because the trial court instructed the jury that Cottonwood could recover for the “value” of the work done, this was a recovery in quantum meruit for which Cottonwood could not recover in addition to lost profits. The Martins contend the Court should have used the phrase “work done” rather than the phrase “value of the work done.” But that was not the objection the Martins made to the trial court. There, the Martins only objected that there was “no evidence of the value of the work performed before this jury, and that assumes there was a value for work performed.” The Martins did not object that “value” corresponded to a recovery in quantum meruit which is inconsistent with a recovery for breach of contract. HN2 In order to preserve error for appellate review, a party’s argument on appeal must comport with its argument in the trial court. See In re D.E.H., 301 S.W.3d 825, 829 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2009, pet. denied); Kershner v. State Bar of Tex., 879 S.W.2d 343, 347 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1994, writ denied). Because the objection asserted at trial does not comport with the complaint argued [*6] on appeal, the second portion of the Martins’ first issue that an improper measure of damages was submitted is not preserved. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a).” Martin v. Cottonwood Creek Constr., LLC, No. 10-17-00005-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 8050, at *5-6 (App.—Waco Oct. 3, 2018)

Legal and Factual Sufficiency: “We agree with Warner that JEM did not preserve its legal or factual sufficiency challenge of the DTPA elements included in issues one, two, and four. Despite JEM’s argument in its reply brief, we are unable to read its motion for new trial, where it complained that damages were manifestly too large for Warner and manifestly too small for JEM because of the jury’s “clerical” error, as bringing to the trial court’s attention a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting jury findings on the ultimate fact issues challenged by issues one, two, and four. Moreover, we have carefully reviewed the entire evidentiary record according to the above standards and find sufficient evidence permitted the jury to implicitly find in favor of Warner on the elements JEM challenges by those issues. JEM’s first, second, and fourth issues are overruled.” Jem Int’l, Inc. v. Warner Props., L.P., No. 07-17-00042-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7764, at *11 (App.—Amarillo Sep. 24, 2018)

All for now.  Hope this helps.  Y’all take care.

Yours,

Steve Hayes (shayes@stevehayeslaw.com)

www.stevehayeslaw.com

Error Preservation in Texas Civil Cases, September 22, 2018

September 22, 2018

Dear Folks:

I know, it’s been a few weeks.  The courts took a little bit of a breather following the rush to get cases out the door before the end of their fiscal years, so I thought I would wait until I had a few cases to post.  This entry will cover the following recent error preservation decisions:

Some complaints can be raised for the first time on appeal–like the failure to appoint counsel in a parental right termination case

Counsel

Your complaint must be timely

Dismissal

Your Complaint has to be specific enough

Jury Selection

Your complaint has to comply with the pertinent rules

Factual Sufficiency

You have to get a ruling on your complaint

Discovery
Limitations
Special Exceptions
Summary Judgment Evidence

The complaint you raise on appeal must be the same complaint you raised at trial

Dismissal

And now, here are those decisions.

Some complaints can be raised for the first time on appeal–like the failure to appoint counsel in a parental right termination case:

Counsel: “In this case, J.B.J., Jr. was incarcerated throughout the case and was never informed of his right to be represented by an attorney or his right to a court-appointed attorney if he was found to be indigent. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 107.013(a)(1), 262.201(c), 263.0061(a). Further, the final trial of this case began without J.B.J., Jr. present and a witness testified without being cross-examined by J.B.J., Jr. However, the Department argues that J.B.J., Jr. failed to preserve his complaints for appellate review. The Department contends that J.B.J., Jr. did not object before or during trial to the timing of the appointment of his trial counsel. We disagree.

In Marin v. State, the court of criminal appeals stated that a defendant [*6] must expressly relinquish certain rights and that these rights cannot be extinguished by inaction alone. See Marin v. State, 851 S.W.2d 275, 278-79 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993). The right to the assistance of counsel is one of these rights. Id. at 279. Instead, the State must obtain the defendant’s permission by express waiver or the “intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege.” Id. This “waivable right” is never deemed to have been waived unless the defendant says so plainly, freely, and intelligently, sometimes in writing and always on the record. Id. at 280. Because some courts have recognized that in certain contexts termination suits are quasi-criminal, we determine that the right of assistance of counsel cannot be waived. In the Interest of B.L.D., 56 S.W.3d 203, 211-12 (Tex. App.—Waco 2001) (rev’d on other grounds, 113 S.W.3d 340, 342-43 (Tex. 2003)) (noting that statutory right to counsel in termination proceedings includes a due process right that counsel be effective); In re J.M.S., 43 S.W.3d 60, 63 n. 1 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2001, no pet.) (arguing by analogy in termination case that certain other family law proceedings are quasi-criminal in nature); In the Matter of the Marriage of Hill, 893 S.W.2d 753, 755-56 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 1995, writ denied) (likening the procedural issues in parental termination cases to those of criminal cases as both implicate constitutional concerns); see also Edwards v. Texas Dep’t of Protective and Regulatory Servs., 946 S.W.2d 130, 135 (Tex. App.—El Paso 1997, no writ) (quoting approvingly of Hill). Thus, J.B.J., Jr. did not waive his right to assistance of counsel.” In the Interest of A. J., No. 12-18-00074-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7452, at *5-6 (Tex. App.—Tyler Sep. 10, 2018)

Your complaint must be timely:

Dismissal: “Under the law as it existed on the date this suit was filed, a trial court did not lose jurisdiction over a termination proceeding when the dismissal date passed. In re Dep’t of Family & Protective Servs., 273 S.W.3d 637, 642 (Tex. 2009). Furthermore, a party who failed to “make a timely motion to dismiss” prior to the commencement of the trial waived the right to object to the trial court’s failure to dismiss the suit. Former Fam. § 263.402(b); see In re K.L.C., No. 11-14-00019-CV, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 7766, 2014 WL 3639124, at *6 (Tex. App.—Eastland July 17, 2014, pet. denied) (mem. op.). Although Section 263.402(b) was deleted by the legislature in the 2017 amendments to the Family Code, it remained in effect in this case. See In re T.W., No. 07-18-00056-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 6309, 2018 WL 3799883, at *2 (Tex. App.—Amarillo Aug. 9, 2018, no pet. h.) (holding that parents were obligated to timely move for dismissal). Here, Appellant failed to file her motion to dismiss prior to the commencement of the trial. Therefore, under the law applicable to [*4] this case, she waived the right to object to any failure of the trial court to dismiss this suit based upon the mandatory dismissal date. See former Fam. § 263.402(b).” In the Interest of A.L.S., No. 11-18-00090-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7533, at *3-4 (Tex. App.—Eastland Sep. 13, 2018)

Your Complaint has to be specific enough:

Jury Selection: “To preserve error, a party must inform the trial court—either prior to or contemporaneously with the tendering of peremptory strikes—that it has used its peremptory strike against the venire member involved and that it has exhausted its remaining strikes. . . . The party must then identify to the trial court a specific objectionable venire member who will remain on the jury list because the party has no more strikes available. . . . Only when the trial court is made aware that an objectionable juror will be chosen is the trial court then able to determine if the party was in fact forced to take an objectionable juror. . . . Because Appellants’ counsel did not notify the trial court which specific objectionable venire member or members remained on the jury list, he has failed to preserve this complaint for our review.” Luo v. Levy, No. 02-17-00418-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7730, at *2-3 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Sep. 20, 2018)

Your complaint has to comply with the pertinent rules:

Factual Sufficiency: “In her first, second, third, and fourth issues, J.T. contends that the evidence is factually insufficient to support the jury’s findings that her parental rights to Z.T., E.B., and P.B. should be terminated pursuant to subsections (D), (E), (N), and (O) of Texas Family Code Section 161.001(b)(1). A point in a motion for new trial is a prerequisite to a complaint of factual insufficiency of the evidence to support a jury finding. Tex. R. Civ. P. 324(b)(2);. . . . J.T. did not file a [*5] motion for new trial. Therefore, she has waived her complaint about the factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s findings.” In the Interest of Z.T., No. 12-18-00078-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7652, at *4-5 (App.—Tyler Sep. 19, 2018)

You have to get a ruling on your complaint:

Discovery: “Additionally, Reynolds complains in her appeal that Wellman and his attorney failed to respond to requests that she filed seeking discovery. Yet when Reynolds complained during the hearing that Wellman had failed to respond to her requests seeking discovery, the trial court told Reynolds that she had waited too long to bring any disputes over discovery to the court’s attention. Reynolds acknowledged that she had failed to complain about any discovery matters prior to the trial, and she then failed to secure a ruling on the merits of any of her pre-trial motions. We hold that the complaints that Reynolds advances in issue two were not properly preserved for our review on appeal. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1.” Reynolds v. Wellman, No. 09-17-00459-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7714, at *3 (Tex. App.—Beaumont Sep. 20, 2018)

Limitations: “On appeal, Cavazos argues in part that the trial court erred if it granted summary judgment on these grounds because Stryker “fail[ed] to affirmatively plead a statute of limitations defense within all applicable deadlines.” We agree. Limitations is an affirmative defense which must be pleaded, or is waived. Tex. R. Civ. P. 94; Zorrilla v. Aypco Constr. II, LLC, 469 S.W.3d 143, 155 (Tex. 2015). Stryker concedes that it did not plead a limitations defense in its original answer, but it argues that the trial court granted it leave to file an amended answer to include that defense. The record contains a “Motion for Leave to Amend Answer” filed by Stryker but it does not contain an explicit ruling on that motion, and it does not reflect that [*27] an amended answer was ever actually filed. Accordingly, Stryker waived the defense.

The dissent argues that the limitations issue was tried by consent, and it suggests that Cavazos waived her appellate complaint regarding this defense because the record contains no written response by Cavazos to Stryker’s supplemental summary judgment motion. See Roark v. Stallworth Oil & Gas, Inc., 813 S.W.2d 492, 495 (Tex. 1991) (holding  in the summary judgment context that “[t]he party who allows an issue to be tried by consent and who fails to raise the lack of a pleading before submission of the case cannot later raise the pleading deficiency for the first time on appeal”). But trial by consent is intended to cover only the “exceptional” case in which it “clearly appears from the record as a whole that the parties tried the unpleaded issue”; it “should be applied with care” and “is not intended to establish a general rule of practice.” Guillory v. Boykins, 442 S.W.3d 682, 690 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2014, no pet.); In re A.B.H., 266 S.W.3d 596, 600 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2008, no pet.); Greene v. Young, 174 S.W.3d 291, 301 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2005, pet. denied). Here, Stryker first attempted to raise the limitations defense in its motion for leave to amend its answer, filed on September 28, 2016, which was after the initial summary judgment hearing. At the November 8, 2016 hearing, Cavazos’s counsel specifically complained that Stryker “never indicated ever in any [*28] pleading, in any discovery request, in any request for disclosure that they were gonna assert” the limitations defense. This is not an “exceptional” situation warranting application of the trial-by-consent doctrine. See Guillory, 442 S.W.3d at 690; cf. Roark, 813 S.W.2d at 495 (“Because Roark failed to direct the trial court’s attention to the absence of the pleading in his written response or before the court rendered judgment, this complaint may not be raised on appeal.”).” Cavazos v. Stryker Sales Corp., No. 13-17-00247-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7228, at *26-28 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Aug. 31, 2018)

Special Exceptions: “Special exceptions are used to challenge a defective pleading. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 91. Failure to obtain a timely hearing and a ruling on special exceptions waives the exceptions and does not preserve them for appeal. McAllister v. Samuels, 857 S.W.2d 768, 773 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1993, no writ) (appellants asserted [*13] that the trial court erred by “entering a final judgment without ruling on, or even considering,” their special exceptions; appellants waived error on this point because the record did not show that appellants obtained a hearing and a ruling on their special exceptions). The appellate record does not show that James requested a hearing on his special exceptions, or that a hearing was held or a ruling obtained. James did not preserve this issue for appeal.” Davis v. Angleton Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 14-17-00692-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7467, at *12-13 (App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Sep. 11, 2018)

Summary Judgment Evidence: “Next, Furmanite, Galbraith, and Southcross argue that we cannot consider Lisa’s supplemental affidavit in this appeal because they claim it is a “sham affidavit.”. . . . On appeal, Furmanite [*7] asserts that its sham affidavit objection “was implicitly sustained by the trial court.” Nothing in the record indicates the trial court ruled on Furmanite’s sham affidavit objection. “Absent a timely objection and a ruling from the trial court, the complaint that a summary-judgment affidavit is a sham is waived for purposes of appellate review.” In re T.A.D., No. 14-16-00717-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1864, 2017 WL 924550, at *5 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Mar. 7, 2017, no pet.). Furthermore, objected-to evidence is valid summary judgment proof unless an order sustaining the objection is reduced to writing, signed, and entered of record. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Rincones, 520 S.W.3d 572, 583 (Tex. 2017). No such order appears in the record.” Martinez v. Furmanite Am. Inc., No. 04-17-00318-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7642, at *6-7 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Sep. 19, 2018)

The complaint you raise on appeal must be the same complaint you raised at trial:

Dismissal: “In her sixth issue, Stacey argues that the trial court erred by not giving her the opportunity to take discovery and by converting a non-evidentiary hearing into [*14] a pretrial evidentiary hearing without proper notice. As support for this issue, she similarly asserts that Richard’s motion to dismiss was limited to a challenge to her pleadings and, therefore, that she did not have notice that she would have to present evidence. Stacey, however, did she raise this argument with the trial court. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a) . . . When the trial court advised Stacey that it was her “burden on the [Rule 91a] motion to dismiss, to establish what is required legally for proceeding on a bill of review” and then told her that he would hear from her as to evidence, Stacey stated to the trial court that she was not prepared to present evidence because she had been advised by an attorney that evidence was not considered with a Rule 91a motion. The trial court then further explained her burden to make a “prima facie showing” on the alternative ground. In response, Stacey requested a continuance “so that [she] could hire counsel for an evidentiary hearing,” but she did not raise the argument that she raises on appeal that Richard’s motion to dismiss was limited to a challenge on the pleadings. Thus, she has waived this issue for our review. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1(a).” Hammer v. Hammer, No. 03-18-00028-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7574, at *13-15 (Tex. App.—Austin Sep. 18, 2018)

Then, there were the usual spate of cases in which the party failed to raise the complaint in the trial court at all.

I hope this helps.  Y’all take care.

Yours,

Steve Hayes

shayes@stevehayeslaw.comwww.stevehayeslaw.com