Silent Renewal

Last December, the Court of Appeals issued an interim opinion vacating a trial court order that almost quadrupled the supersedeas amount to be paid by TierOne Converged Networks during the appeal of a judgment evicting it and its equipment from the water towers of Lavon Water Supply Corp. Now, the Court has reversed and rendered judgment in favor of TierOne on the merits of the forcible detainer case. The Court agreed with TierOne that it had validly exercised its contractual option to renew the lease of the property for an additional five-year term. Because the lease did not require notice of any renewal, TierOne’s continued occupation of the property and payment of the monthly rent following the expiration of the initial term was sufficient to constitute an election to renew.

TierOne Converged Networks v. Lavon Water Supply Corp., No. 05-13-00370-CV

Summary Judgment Improper in Fight Over Security Deposit

In this landlord-tenant dispute, the tenants sued the landlord for wrongfully withholding their security deposit in violation of Section 92 of the Texas Property Code.  The trial court granted the tenants’ motion for summary judgment, and the landlord appealed.  The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that there was a disputed issue of material fact as to whether the tenants provided the landlord with a valid forwarding address where the landlord could provide the written notice required by the statute.

Franzin v. Sauty

Failure to Object to Expert’s Improper Methodology Waives Issue on Appeal

In this breach of lease case, the appellant argued that the appellee’s damages expert opinion was unreliable and erroneous because it relied on a hypothetical market rent study.  During trial, appellant objected to the relevance of the of the market rent study, but the trial court did not rule on the objection.  The expert then testified in detail about each component of her calculation without objection from appellant about her methodology.  The Court of Appeals, however, found that because the appellant had “failed to object to the expert’s testimony on the basis of improper methodology before or during trial and obtain a ruling form the court,” appellant waived any error.

Transcontinental Realty v. Wicks

 

 

 

 

Sub-lessee Cannot Claim Invalidity of Sublease for Lack of Landlord Approval

In this garnishment action, the Court of Appeals permitted the appellant, as lessor, to recover past due rent under a commercial lease against a sub-lessee.  Among many other issues, the Court rejected the appellee’s argument that the sub-lease was invalid because it was obtained without the landlord’s consent, as required by the lease.  On this point, the court held that “this limitation is for the benefit of the landlord” and that sub-lessee “cannot take advantage of their own wrongs.”

Tenet Health Sys. Hosps. Dallas Inc. v. N. Tex. Hosp. Physicians Gp. P.A.

 

Rent Seeking

The Lavon Water Supply Corp. sued TierOne Converged Networks to evict TierOne and its equipment from Lavon’s water towers. TierOne superseded the eviction by depositing $10,800 — one year of rent — into the registry of the court. Lavon then moved to increase the bond to $40,500, basing the increase on the offer of a competing company to lease the space for $3,375 per month. The trial court granted the request to increase the bond, but the Court of Appeals set aside that order on motion for review.

In setting the supersedeas bond in an eviction suit, the court must consider the reasonable value of the rents likely to accrue during appeal. Although the testimony of Lavon’s witnesses established the amount of rent that TierOne’s competitor proposed to pay, there was no evidence that $3,375 was a reasonable rental rate for space on Lavon’s water towers. In addition, TierOne had offered to waive the exclusivity provision in its lease, and the testimony established that TierOne’s competitor was willing to lease space from Lavon with TierOne’s equipment still in place. Thus, there was no evidence that Lavon was being deprived of any increased rents, and the order increasing the supersedeas bond was vacated.

TierOne Converged Networks, Inc. v. Lavon Water Supply Corp., No. 05-13-00370-CV

No Evidence of Causation, But Enough Damages for Remand

A landlord-tenant dispute illustrates the limits of a jury’s ability to select an amount to award as damages. After the tenant abandoned the leasehold, the landlord sued for breach of the lease agreement. The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $200,000 in damages. On appeal, the tenant challenged the evidence of causation between the breach of the lease and the damages awarded by the jury. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding that while there was some evidence of damages caused by the breach, the evidence overall failed to establish that the specific expenses claimed by the landlord were actually made necessary by the tenant’s termination of the lease. While a jury may award damages anywhere within the range permitted by the evidence, it cannot “arbitrarily assess an amount not authorized or supported by evidence at trial.” The Court therefore remanded the case for a new trial on both liability and damages.

Curtis v. AGF Spring Creek/Coit II, Ltd., No. 05-12-00429-CV