Longview Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Nabours, 9227

Citation673 S.W.2d 357
Decision Date12 June 1984
Docket NumberNo. 9227,9227
PartiesLONGVIEW SAVINGS & LOAN ASSOCIATION and Jerry W. Hill, Substitute Trustee, Appellants, v. Nick NABOURS and Wife, Suzanne Nabours, Appellees.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas

Page 357

673 S.W.2d 357
LONGVIEW SAVINGS & LOAN ASSOCIATION and Jerry W. Hill,
Substitute Trustee, Appellants,
v.
Nick NABOURS and Wife, Suzanne Nabours, Appellees.
No. 9227.
Court of Appeals of Texas,
Texarkana.
June 12, 1984.

Page 359

Earl Roberts, Jr., Jerry W. Hill, Longview, for appellants.

Kenneth L. Ross, Longview, for appellees.

CORNELIUS, Chief Justice.

Longview Savings, successor to Metropolitan Savings, appeals from a district court judgment granting Mr. and Mrs. Nick Nabours exemplary damages, attorney's fees, and a permanent injunction prohibiting the foreclosure of a deed of trust lien. The controversy arose when Longview Savings threatened foreclosure of its lien on the Nabourses' home, and they brought suit alleging that Longview Savings was guilty of common law fraud, violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act 1 and had waived its right to foreclose. The jury found that Longview Savings had waived its right to foreclose, made false statements in its foreclosure notices, represented that its deed of trust involved rights and obligations it did not have, and acted with malice. The jury found no actual damages but found $126,200.00 punitive damages. Longview Savings contends inter alia that Mr. and Mrs. Nabours' deceptive trade practices cause of action failed because they were not consumers within the meaning of the Act, punitive damages and attorney's fees were not allowable, and there is no evidence or insufficient evidence to support the jury findings of waiver.

Mr. Nabours had previously dealt with Metropolitan Savings when, in 1980, he purchased the Clyburn home on which Metropolitan held a deed of trust lien similar to the one in issue. In connection with that sale Metropolitan's vice-president, Terry Irick, waived the requirement of its deed of trust that it consent to any sale, and assured Nabours it did not escalate or foreclose when sales were made without its consent, even though formal notice to the contrary might be given. Irick said:

... We may respond (to notice of purchase without assumption) and we may not .... Even if we do, it would just be a formality, don't worry about it. (Parentheses supplied.)

Alfred Burke owned a house on which Metropolitan held a note and deed of trust which contained a consent requirement as follows:

"The Grantors further agree that they will not make any voluntary inter vivos transfer of the premises or any part thereof without first obtaining the written consent of the mortgagee. Any such transfer, if the mortgagee shall not so consent, shall constitute a default under the terms of this instrument ...."

Mr. and Mrs. Nabours wanted to buy the Burke house but did not want to assume the mortgage at an increased interest rate, so Burke agreed to finance the sale with a "wrap around" mortgage. On February 23, 1981, Burke's attorney wrote to Metropolitan requesting its consent to the sale. Metropolitan wrote back on March 4, 1981 stating:

This Association has a long established policy that it will not consent to the

Page 360

transfer of any property on which it holds a Deed of Trust lien without certain steps being taken by the seller and prospective buyer.

The buyer must make application for assumption of the loan and subject to a satisfactory credit report, execute an Assumption Agreement ....

Should the transfer be made without the consent of this Association, we would consider this a default under the terms of the Deed of Trust and would have to act accordingly.

Burke's attorney responded on March 10, 1981, explaining that Mr. and Mrs. Nabours were not assuming the loan but were arranging the financing with the Burkes.

The day before the Burke sale was closed, Mr. Irick telephoned Mr. Nabours and recommended that he not complete the sale, but he did not state that the consent clause would be enforced. Relying on waiver, Nabours proceeded with the purchase. Mr. Burke continued for several months to make the monthly payments on his note with no objection or question from Metropolitan. In August of 1981, however, Metropolitan posted foreclosure notices and filed a notice in the deed records which stated that Nabours had assumed the loan and had defaulted on his payments. Nabours then obtained a temporary injunction restraining Metropolitan from selling the home, and this suit followed.

EXEMPLARY DAMAGES

Longview Savings contends exemplary damages should not have been awarded. Ordinarily, exemplary or punitive damages may not be recovered in the absence of an award of actual damages. Fort Worth Elevators Co. v. Russell, 123 Tex. 128, 70 S.W.2d 397 (1934); Sam Bradley Realty Co. v. McNair, 644 S.W.2d 533 (Tex.App.--Corpus Christi 1982, no writ); Luce v. Singdahlsen, 636 S.W.2d 571 (Tex.App.--Fort Worth 1982, writ ref'd n.r.e.); Bell v. Ott, 606 S.W.2d 942 (Tex.Civ.App.--Waco 1980, writ ref'd n.r.e.); 28 Tex.Jur.3d Damages § 188 (1983) and cases cited. Even in cases where equitable relief is granted, some actual loss must be shown before exemplary damages may be awarded. City Products Corp. v. Berman, 610 S.W.2d 446 (Tex.1980); International Bankers Life Ins. Co. v. Holloway, 368 S.W.2d 567 (Tex.1963); Adam v. Harris, 564 S.W.2d 152 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1978, writ ref'd n.r.e.); Teas v. Republic Nat'l Bank of Dallas, 460 S.W.2d 233 (Tex.Civ.App.--Dallas 1970, writ ref'd n.r.e.); 28 Tex.Jur.3d Damages § 188 (1983). The amount of actual loss must be established because the amount of exemplary damages must be reasonably proportioned to the actual damages. Fort Worth Elevators Co. v. Russell, supra. What appears to be an exception in rescission cases is illusory, because in those cases there is an actual recovery of the consideration paid or of the property delivered, as the case may be. See, e.g., International Bankers Life Ins. Co. v. Holloway, supra; Oliver v. Chapman, 15 Tex. 400 (1855). As there was no recovery of actual damages, exemplary damages should not have been awarded.

Mr. and Mrs. Nabours counter with the argument...

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14 cases
  • Nabours v. Longview Sav. & Loan Ass'n
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • July 17, 1985
    ...injunction by the trial court, but it reversed the judgment of the trial court as to the punitive damages and attorney's fees. 673 S.W.2d 357 (Tex.App.1984). We affirm the judgment of the court of The Nabours purchased a home from Alfred Burke in April, 1981. Mr. Burke's home was subject to......
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