Summary Judgment Default

A fire at a hotel in Duncanville left the property owner unable to continue paying on the $3.4 million promissory note. The lender foreclosed and the property was sold for $500,000, leaving a substantial balance on the defendants’ personal guaranty obligations. The bank prevailed on summary judgment, a result that was not helped by the failure of defendants’ counsel to respond to the motion or appear at the hearing. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

The guarantors challenged the trial court’s denial of their motion for new trial. The Court of Appeals analyzed the case as a post-answer default, applying the Craddock factors of whether (1) the failure to answer or appear was a mistake or accident, (2) the defendant had a meritorious defense, and (3) the motion was filed at a time when granting a new trial would not delay or otherwise injure the plaintiff. In this instance, the motion for new trial failed to establish item (3), as the attorney’s affidavit did not address that factor, Neither the motion nor the affidavit  stated that the defendants were ready, willing, or able to go to trial immediately or offer to reimburse the plaintiff for its expenses. The Court also rejected the defendants’ claim of newly-discovered evidence, given that the affidavits failed to establish the proffered evidence (testimony from friends of the defendants) was actually newly discovered or could not have been discovered earlier through the exercise of due diligence.

Kahrobaie v. Wilshire State Bank, No. 05-13-01459-CV

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