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May 2012

Dallas Office Secures Summary Judgment on Third-Party-Tort Real Estate Dispute

Dallas Partner Bob Bragalone and Senior Counsel Margaret Mead were recently awarded summary judgment on behalf of Sendera Title in a case regarding complex issues of real property ownership and a deathbed conveyance.

Prior to her death, Carroll named her mother ("Harrington") as a life estate holder for a property that she owned. Shortly after her passing, Carroll's estate (the "Estate") unsuccessfully attempted to sell the property to a private buyer and his family ("Rose").  Harrington and Rose subsequently reached an agreement in which Harrington purported to transfer fee simple in the property to Rose via a warranty deed. The transaction was handled by Sendera Title and all funds were distributed appropriately in accordance with the terms of their agreement.

The Estate sued Sendera Title for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, money had and received, deceptive trade practices, and negligence. Mr. Bragalone and Ms. Mead moved for "traditional" and no-evidence summary judgment, arguing that a contract did not exist between the Estate and Sendera Title, and that fiduciary duty (or any duty) could not be owed to a non-party of an escrow agreement. They also argued that the Estate was not a "consumer" with respect to the real estate transaction. The Court agreed and granted summary judgment for Sendera Title on all claims.

Robert A. Bragalone



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