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Date: 12-01-2022

Case Style:

Marcelo Remigio, Jr. and Juana Marisela Acosta v. Leobardo Armenta and Esmeralda Ortega Maldonadotates

Case Number: 02-21-00298-CV

Judge: Dana Womack


Second Appellate District of Texas at Fort Worth

On appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 of Tarrant County

Plaintiff's Attorney: Fort Worth, Texas - Civil Litigation Lawyer Directory

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Defendant's Attorney: Leobardo Armenta


Fort Worth, Texas – Civil Litigation lawyer represented Appellants concerning ownership of a truck.

In February 2018, Appellees filed suit against Appellants in county court,
alleging that Appellants had sold them a Chevrolet Silverado for $5,000 cash and an
agreement for Appellees to pay directly to the financier the remaining balance of the
first lien note that was in Appellants’ names. According to Appellees, after they made
all payments, Appellants “took the truck from [Appellees], using a spare key, without
[Appellees’] knowledge nor consent and have kept the truck in their possession.”
In their pleadings, Appellees acknowledged that an earlier dispute regarding the
truck had been filed in small claims court, for which an MSA was reached. However,
they alleged that Appellants “did not fulfill their respective duties and failed to
provide the information necessary in order for the [Appellees] to pay off the vehicle
as agreed per the [MSA].” Appellees sought to recover their damages and attorney’s
Appellants answered the lawsuit and filed a counterclaim for breach of the
MSA. In addition to asserting a breach-of-contract cause of action and seeking $3,700
in damages, Appellants sought declaratory relief that the MSA was valid and
enforceable, resolved all underlying issues, waived all future claims and liability, and
was irrevocable. Appellees filed a general denial in response to the counterclaim.
The case was tried to the bench, and judgment was later entered that provided:
• On the claim of breach of contract, the court found in favor of
Appellees and against Appellant Remigio in the amount of $5,000, plus
prejudgment and postjudgment interest;
• On the counterclaim of breach of contract, the court found in favor of
Appellants and against Appellee Armenta in the amount of $1,850, plus
prejudgment and postjudgment interest; and
• On the attorney’s fees claim, the court found in favor of Appellees in the
amount of $8,788, plus postjudgment interest.
The judgment stated that it disposed of all parties and claims and was appealable. No
findings of fact and conclusions of law were filed. Appellants appealed from this
In one issue on appeal, Appellants complain that the trial court erred in not
awarding them “the sought-after and pled declaratory judgment.”
They argue that
the MSA “was admitted into evidence in the [t]rial [c]ourt and was dispositive of the
issues before the [t]rial [c]ourt.” Appellees have not filed a brief in response.
However, we do not know what evidence was admitted by the trial court, as no
reporter’s record was filed.2
It is Appellants’ burden to bring forward a sufficient
record showing error committed by the trial court. Nicholson v. Fifth Third Bank,
226 S.W.3d 581, 583 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.); see Sam F. v.
Hamamiyah, No. 02-14-00109-CV, 2014 WL 6493588, at *2 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth
1Despite failing to grant declaratory relief, the judgment is final because it
followed a conventional trial on the merits and recited that it “disposes of all parties
and all claims and is appealable.” Under the Aldridge presumption, any judgment
following a conventional trial on the merits creates a presumption that the judgment is
final for purposes of appeal. Vaughn v. Drennon, 324 S.W.3d 560, 561 (Tex. 2010)
(citing Ne. Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Aldridge, 400 S.W.2d 893, 897–98 (Tex. 1966)). Such a
judgment need not dispose of every claim for the presumption to apply. Id.; see In re
Stavron, No. 02-20-00404-CV, 2021 WL 5227081, at *9 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth
Nov. 10, 2021, no pet.) (mem. op.) (concluding that a post-trial judgment that did not
address a request for declaratory relief was final).
In our letter of October 26, 2021, we notified Appellants’ attorney that the
court reporter responsible for preparing the reporter’s record in this appeal had
informed the court that payment arrangements had not been made for the reporter’s
record. See Tex. R. App. P. 35.3(b)(3). Thereafter, on November 29, 2021, we
notified the attorneys that Appellants had failed to pay or make arrangements to pay
for the reporter’s record, and we would only consider and decide those issues or
points that did not require a reporter’s record for a decision. See Tex. R. App.
P. 37.3(c).
Nov. 20, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.) (stating that, without a reporter’s record, the court
could not tell whether appellant revoked his consent to an agreed decree). Because
there is no reporter’s record, we must presume that any evidence presented to the trial
court was sufficient to support the judgment. Sam F., 2014 WL 6493588, at *1. In
the absence of a reporter’s record, we can consider and decide only those issues or
points that do not require a reporter’s record for a decision. See Tex. R. App.
P. 37.3(c).
As the parties seeking enforcement of the MSA, Appellants could pursue a
breach-of-contract claim, which is subject to the normal rules of pleading and proof.
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 154.071(a) (stating that “[i]f the parties reach a
settlement and execute a written agreement disposing of the dispute, the agreement is
enforceable in the same manner as any other written contract”); Mantas v. Fifth Court of
Appeals, 925 S.W.2d 656, 658 (Tex. 1996); Padilla v. LaFrance, 907 S.W.2d 454, 461
(Tex. 1995); Pena v. Smith, 321 S.W.3d 755, 758 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2010, no
pet.). While they could also seek declaratory relief under the Uniform Declaratory
Judgments Act (UDJA), the UDJA does not enlarge a trial court’s jurisdiction, and a
litigant’s request for declaratory relief does not alter a suit’s underlying nature. Tex.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 37.002(b) (providing that the UDJA is a remedial
statute designed “to settle and to afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with
respect to rights, status, and other legal relations”); City of El Paso v. Heinrich,
284 S.W.3d 366, 370 (Tex. 2009).
Because they were seeking a declaration, Appellants bore the burden of
establishing their entitlement to the requested declaratory relief. Alanis v. US Bank
Nat’l Ass’n, 489 S.W.3d 485, 500 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, pet. denied).
Declaratory judgments are reviewed under the same standards as other judgments and
decrees. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 37.010; Roberts v. Squyres, 4 S.W.3d
485, 488 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 1999, pet. denied). “We look to the procedure used
to resolve the [declaratory judgment] issue at trial to determine the standard of review
on appeal.” Guthery v. Taylor, 112 S.W.3d 715, 720 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.]
2003, no pet.), abrogated on other grounds by Colorado Cnty. v. Staff, 510 S.W.3d 435 (Tex.
Here, Appellants argue that they were entitled to declaratory judgment as a
matter of law. The trial court denied Appellants’ claims for declaratory judgment
when it rendered its final judgment that did not make the requested declarations and
ordered that the judgment was final. Alanis, 489 S.W.3d at 500; see Good v. Baker,
339 S.W.3d 260, 265 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2011, pet. denied) (concluding that the
judgment was final even though the trial court did not address a declaratory-judgment
claim). Therefore, we review Appellants’ declaratory-judgment issue under the
standard applicable to a party’s challenge to a trial court’s adverse ruling on an issue
on which the challenger had the burden of proof. Alanis, 489 S.W.3d at 500. A party
attacking the legal sufficiency of an adverse finding on an issue on which it bears the
burden of proof must demonstrate on appeal that the evidence establishes, as a matter
of law, all vital facts in support of the issue, and it may prevail on appeal only if no
evidence supports the court’s finding that the contrary position is conclusively
established. Id.
To demonstrate on appeal that the evidence established as a matter of law their
entitlement to declaratory relief, the burden was on Appellants to present a sufficient
record to show error requiring reversal. See Christiansen v. Prezelski, 782 S.W.2d 842,
843 (Tex. 1990). The appellate record consists of the clerk’s record and, if necessary
to the appeal, the reporter’s record. Tex. R. App. P. 34.1. Issues that depend on the
state of the evidence cannot be reviewed without a complete record, including a
reporter’s record. In re B.J.W., No. 05-17-00253-CV, 2018 WL 3322882, at *2 (Tex.
App.—Dallas July 6, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Wilms v. Americas Tire Co., Inc.,
190 S.W.3d 796, 803 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2006, pet. denied)). Where there is neither a
reporter’s record nor findings of fact, we assume the trial court heard sufficient
evidence to make all necessary findings in support of its judgment. Hebisen v. Clear
Creek Indep. Sch. Dist., 217 S.W.3d 527, 536 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2006,
no pet.).
On the record before us—containing neither a reporter’s record nor findings of
fact—Appellants have failed to meet their burden to show that the trial court erred in
denying declaratory relief. Therefore, we overrule Appellants’ sole issue.

Outcome: Having overruled Appellants’ issue, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

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