Willis v. Mays, 11578.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Citation177 S.W.2d 1000
Docket NumberNo. 11578.,11578.
PartiesWILLIS v. MAYS et al.
Decision Date27 January 1944

Appeal from District Court, Harris County; Phil D. Woodruff, Judge.

Action by Terrence Willis against V. B. Mays and others for possession of certain property and to recover damages under a sequestration bond and for other relief. Directed verdict for defendants, and plaintiff appeals.


A. F. Sundermeyer, of Houston, for appellant.

Walter F. Brown and Paul Maaz, Jr., both of Houston, for appellees.

MONTEITH, Chief Justice.

This action was brought by Terrence Willis for the possession of certain property located in Harris County, Texas, and to recover damages from V. B. Mays and the sureties on a sequestration bond executed by him, and from Walter Williams, a constable, and the sureties on his official bond, for the alleged wrongful suing out of a writ of sequestration, under which appellant Willis was alleged to have been dispossessed from his home. Appellant sought both actual and exemplary damages and judgment restoring said premises to him.

Appellees answered by defensive pleas. They specially pled that appellant's cause of action was barred by the two years statute of limitations.

At the conclusion of the testimony the court instructed the jury to return a verdict in favor of appellees. Judgment was entered accordingly.

The record shows that on May 1, 1937, the firm of Mays & Britton, who were engaged in the real estate and building business in the City of Houston, entered into a written executory contract with appellant and his wife by the terms of which they agreed to sell to appellant and his wife certain property, consisting of a house and lot, located in what was known as Garden Acres, a subdivision in Harris County, Texas, for an agreed price of $1,685, of which sum appellant and his wife paid to Mays & Britton at the time of the execution of said contract the sum of $100 in cash and agreed to pay them the balance of said purchase price in monthly installments of $25 each on or before the first day of each and every month thereafter until the principal and interest due should be fully paid. It was agreed that when the purchase price had been fully paid Mays & Britton would convey the property to appellant and his wife by general warranty deed.

The contract contained the following provision:

"But in all cases time is the essence of this contract, and if default is made in the payment of any installment when due, the owners shall have the right to rescind this agreement and all moneys paid hereunder shall be retained by the owners as agreed liquidation damages and rent of said property, and it is further agreed that each default in the payment of any subsequent installment shall be a fresh breach of this contract, and that a failure of the owners to exercise their option at the time of any one default shall not operate to bar their right to exercise such option upon any subsequent default of the purchaser."

Appellant and his wife moved onto the property in question after entering into said contract of purchase and thereafter made two of the monthly payments provided for therein, a payment of $25 on June 5, 1937, and a payment of $30 on June 29, 1937. No further payments were made by them under the terms of said contract.

The record shows that, on or about the date when the next monthly payment became due, Willis notified Mays & Britton at their office in Houston that he would make no further payments on the contract, for the reason that the property was too far away from the work in which he was engaged. Mays & Britton thereupon demanded possession of the property. But Willis refused to surrender possession thereof or to make further payments thereon and continued in possession of the property until the latter part of October, 1937, when he purchased and moved into another home at Harrisburg.

On October 11, 1937, Mays & Britton brought suit against Willis and wife for the title to and possession of the property in question and caused a writ of sequestration to be issued therein, and on the evening of October 12, 1937, the constable, Walter Williams, went to the property in question and delivered to appellant and his wife copies of the citation in that suit and read the writ of sequestration to Willis. Willis did not deliver possession of the property to the constable and the constable did not take any further steps toward ejecting them from the premises. The keys to the house were never turned over to him. An order was entered on October 30, 1937, quashing the writ of sequestration. The constable was later advised by the attorney representing Mays & Britton that the sequestration had been quashed and that he should return it unexecuted.

Willis testified that he remained in possession of the property in question for 15 or 16 days after the date on which he was served with citation and said writ of sequestration was read to him, and until he moved to the property he had purchased at Harrisburg. He testified that after his lawyer had told him that the writ of sequestration had been quashed, he put a rent sign on the property, locked it up, and nailed up the windows and doors, and tried for two months to rent the property but was unable to secure a tenant for it.

On October 15, 1938, Mays & Britton sold the property to another party who has occupied it at all times since.

The controlling question presented in this appeal is whether a vendor of land under an executory contract of sale wherein he is given the right to take possession of the purchased property on default in the payment of monthly installments of the purchase price due under the contract, who has filed suit in trespass to try title for the possession of said property, can be held liable for damages by taking such property by writ of sequestration, and whether the sureties on his sequestration bond and the constable who levied said writ and the sureties on his official bond can be held liable therefor.

It has long been the established law in this state that a mortgagee who has the right under his contract to take possession of the mortgaged property on default in payment of the debt secured cannot be held liable for damages by taking such property by writ of sequestration though it be alleged that the writ was wrongfully procured, on a false affidavit and for the purpose of injuring the mortgagor, since he has done no more by the writ than his contract gave him the right to do with it. Brunson v. Dawson State Bank, Tex.Civ. App., 175 S.W. 438; Wedig v. San Antonio Brewing Association, 25 Tex.Civ. App. 158, 60 S.W. 567; Nichols v. Paine, 52 Tex.Civ.App. 87, 113 S.W. 972.

In the case of Wedig v. San Antonio Brewing Association, supra [25 Tex.Civ. App. 158, 60 S.W. 570], the court in its opinion said:

"It will be seen by the terms of the mortgages that the brewing company, defendant, had the right to take possession of the property, and sell it, to pay the debt secured thereby, or any part of the debt. The petition shows that the debt had not been paid in full, and the right to take the property into possession cannot be questioned. The exercise of that right and securing it by process of the court could not be ground for damages. Harling v. Creech, 88 Tex. 300, 31 S.W. 357."

This language is quoted with approval in Nichols v. Paine, supra, and writ of error was denied in the Nichols case by the Supreme Court.

The holding above outlined has been uniformly followed by the courts of this state and was approved by our Supreme Court in the case of Bordelon v. Philbrick, 125 Tex. 460, 84 S.W.2d 710, 715, in which the fact situation is similar in all material respects to that in the instant case, in that it involved the sureties on both the official bond of the constable who served the writ of sequestration and the sureties on the sequestration bond. The court, in its opinion, said:

"We are of the opinion that to justify an action against a constable and the sureties on his bond for the full value of property taken under a writ of sequestration, it is necessary for plaintiff to show some substantial interest in the property, or at least that he was entitled to the possession as against the plaintiff in the sequestration suit, and that he has suffered some substantial damage by reason of the property not being returned. * * * It seems to be well settled that if one is in possession of property under mortgage which permits the mortgagee to take possession on default, he cannot maintain an action for damages if the property is taken under some kind of a writ, even though the writ be wrongfully procured. Brunson v. Dawson State Bank, Tex.Civ.App., 175 S.W. 438, and authorities cited. In this instance, so far as the proof shows, Metropolis Company had a right to obtain its property at any time. If perchance it resorted to sequestration...

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8 cases
  • Tempo Tamers, Inc. v. Crow-Houston Four, Ltd., CROW-HOUSTON
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • February 12, 1986
    ...sequestration. See Brown v. Singer Sewing Machine Co., 352 S.W.2d 306, 307 (Tex.Civ.App.--Austin 1961, no writ); Willis v. Mays, 177 S.W.2d 1000, 1003 (Tex.Civ.App.--Galveston 1944, writ ref'd w.o.m.); e.g., Darr Equipment Co. v. Holland Page Inc., 355 S.W.2d 595, 597 (Tex.Civ.App.--Austin ......
  • King v. Rubinsky, 3056
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Civil Appeals of Texas
    • December 18, 1952
    ...on the ground that he wrongfully dispossessed them, even though the summary judgment was erroneous. Willis v. Mays, Tex.Civ.App., 177 S.W.2d 1000, The law is well settled in this State that a purchaser or vendee of realty under an executory contract, not being in possession of the property ......
  • Burnett Trailers, Inc. v. Polson, 14346
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Civil Appeals of Texas
    • February 10, 1965
    ...293 S.W. 896; Bruyere Const. Co. v. Bewley, Tex.Civ.App., 229 S.W. 610. Appellants cite the case of Willis v. Mays, Tex.Civ.App., 177 S.W.2d 1000. We do not regard that case as being in point here, as the facts are entirely different. There was no dismissal of the original Appellants next c......
  • McGregor v. Allen, 5735.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • July 15, 1946
    ...sequestration thereof. Howe v. Central State Bank, Tex. Civ.App., 13 S.W.2d 437 (writ of error refused); Willis v. Mays, Tex.Civ.App., 177 S.W.2d 1000 (writ of error refused for want of merit). The answers to the issues involving the sequestration are therefore The writ of mandamus will iss......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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