Appellate Courts Can’t Fix Everything for You

A short opinion helps to illustrate the limited reach of an appellate court’s authority over the cases before it. On interlocutory appeal, both litigants agreed that the trial court should have vacated an order appointing a receiver in Texas to serve ancillary to a primary receivership in Minnesota. But in addition to vacting the order appointing the receiver, the appellant also wanted the Court of Appeals to undo all the receiver’s actions. That was beyond the appellate court’s powers however. Pointing to TRAP 43.2, the Court held that it could affirm, modify, reverse and render, reverse and remand, vacate, or dismiss — none of which permitted the Court to grant the additional relief sought by the appellant.

Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. LP v. Verde Minerals, LLC, No. 05-15-00014-CV

Surmise and Suspicion

The Court of Appeals has affirmed summary judgment for Albert G. Hill, Jr. in one part of the long-running legal battle initiated by his son, Albert G. Hill III. The trial court ordered the receiver for Hill 3 Investments, LLC to wind up the company and distribute its assets to Hill Jr. and Hill III. Among other items, the Court of Appeals rejected Hill III’s argument that his accountant’s declaration had demonstrated a fact dispute over the receiver’s calculation of the company’s capital accounts. No fact issue existed, the Court of Appeals held, because the accountant only noted that he could not verify the receiver’s calculation with the records available to him. That statement gave rise to “no more than a surmise or suspicion that the accounting might be different if additional documents were reviewed.”

Full disclosure: Our firm formerly represented Hill Jr., including in the case that originally resulted in the appointment of the receiver for Hill 3 Investments. We were not involved in the case at issue here, however.

Hill v. Hill, No. 05-13-00732-CV

On Receiverships

The Dallas Court of Appeals has reversed an order appointing a receiver to wind up the affairs of a business equally owned by two siblings who could not agree on selling the cattle ranch they operated. The opinion serves as a useful primer on the statutory criteria for appointment of a receiver. In this instance, the Court of Appeals held that a receiver could not be justified because there was no evidence that the company was under threat of an irreparable injury if the property was not sold.

Spiritas v. Davidoff, No. 05-14-00068-CV