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TexasCaseLaw

WELLSv.DOTSON,261S.W.3d275(Tex.App.Tyler2008)
KeithWELLS,Andria(Medley)Stewart,BlanchePhillipsandCarrie
Sterling,Appellants,v.ClaudeDOTSON,Jr.andwife,FayeDotson,
Appellees.
No.120700260CV.
CourtofAppealsofTexas,TwelfthDistrict,Tyler.
July9,2008.

AppealfromtheCountyCourtatLaw,CherokeeCounty,CraigA.
Fletcher,J.
Page276
[EDITORS'NOTE:THISPAGECONTAINSHEADNOTES.HEADNOTESARENOTAN
OFFICIALPRODUCTOFTHECOURT,THEREFORETHEYARENOTDISPLAYED.]
Page277
[EDITORS'NOTE:THISPAGECONTAINSHEADNOTES.HEADNOTESARENOTAN
OFFICIALPRODUCTOFTHECOURT,THEREFORETHEYARENOTDISPLAYED.]
Page278
RobertA.Swearingen,forKeithWells,Andria(Medley)Stewart,Blanche
PhillipsandCarrieSterling.
R.W.RichardsandCaseyH.Cross,forClaudeDotson,Jr.
EldridgeMoak,forHaroldLewisandClaudeDotson,Jr.
PanelconsistedofWORTHEN,C.J.,GRIFFITH,J.,andHOYLE,J.
OPINION
SAMGRIFFITH,Justice.
KeithWells,Andria(Medley)Stewart,BlanchePhillips,andCarrie
Sterling(collectively"Appellants")appealthetrialcourt'ssummary
judgmententeredinfavorofAppellees,ClaudeDotson,Jr.andFaye
Dotson.Inoneissue,Appellantscontendthatthetrialcourterredin
grantingsummaryjudgment.Weaffirminpart,reverseandrenderin
part,reverseandremandinpart,anddismissforwantofjurisdictionin
part.
BACKGROUND
ClaudeDotson,Jr.("Dotson")befriendedDolphusandMildredSnow,an
elderlycouple.Dolphussufferedastroke,andMildredthereafterrelied
onDotson'sassistanceintheupkeepofthecouple'sruralland.Dolphus
laterdiedleavingMildred,whowasnotfinanciallysophisticatedanddid
notknowhowtocarefortheproperty.Mildredlatersufferedaseriesof
strokes.
Subsequently,onDecember10,1993,Mildredenteredintoacontract
withDotsonentitled"LeasewithOptionstoPurchase."Pursuanttothe
termsofthecontract,DotsonleasedMildred'sland,whichcomprised
betweentwohundredeightandthreehundredtwentyacres,for$2,500.00
peryear.ThecontractfurtherprovidedDotsonatwentyyearoptionto
purchasethepropertywithallleasepaymentsservingascreditstoward
thefinalpurchaseprice.Additionally,onetractoflandwastobe
transferredtoDotsononNovember30,2003fornoadditional
considerationotherthantheleasepaymentsalreadymadethroughJanuary
1,2003.
Page279
MildreddiedonApril30,2005.HaroldLewiswasappointedasexecutor
ofMildred'sestate.OnSeptember22,2005,Appelleessentaletterto

peryear.ThecontractfurtherprovidedDotsonatwentyyearoptionto
purchasethepropertywithallleasepaymentsservingascreditstoward
thefinalpurchaseprice.Additionally,onetractoflandwastobe
transferredtoDotsononNovember30,2003fornoadditional
considerationotherthantheleasepaymentsalreadymadethroughJanuary
1,2003.
Page279
MildreddiedonApril30,2005.HaroldLewiswasappointedasexecutor
ofMildred'sestate.OnSeptember22,2005,Appelleessentaletterto
Lewisdeclaringtheirintentiontoexercisetheiroptiontopurchasethe
remainingthreetractsoflandpursuanttothecontractbetweenDotson
andMildred.[fn1]AppellantsthereafternotifiedLewisthattheywould
notsignadeedconveyingtitletothelandtoDotsonandthreatenedto
sueLewisifhesignedthedeed.
OnOctober13,2005,Appelleesfiledsuitseekingspecificperformance
oftheoptionprovisionofthecontract.Appellees'petitionallegedtwo
avenuesbywhichtheywereentitledtoseekspecificperformancebreach
ofcontractandTexasProbateCode,section27.Appellantsansweredand
laterfiledcounterclaimsassertingbreachoffiduciaryduty,breachof
contract,fraud,fraudintheinducement,statutoryfraud,andunjust
enrichment.OnDecember21,2006,AppelleesfiledtheirFirstAmended
MotionforSummaryJudgment.Bytheirmotion,Appelleescontendedthey
wereentitledtospecificperformancesolelybyvirtueoftheirSection
27claim.AppelleesalsocontendedthatAppellants'counterclaimswere
barredbytheapplicablestatuteoflimitations,laches,waiver,and
estoppel.AppellantsfiledaresponsetoAppellees'motiononJanuary
26,2007.ThetrialcourtgrantedAppellees'FirstAmendedMotionfor
SummaryJudgmentonFebruary14,2007.Thisappealfollowed.
TEXASPROBATECODE,SECTION27
Aspartoftheirsoleissueonappeal,Appellantsarguethatthetrial
courterredingrantingsummaryjudgmentinAppellees'favorbecause
Appelleesfailedtodemonstrateasamatteroflawthattheywereentitled
tospecificperformance.Appelleesconcededatoralargumentthatthe
soleavenuebywhichtheysoughtspecificperformanceintheirmotionfor
summaryjudgmentwasTexasProbateCode,section27.Section27
provides,inpertinentpart,asfollows:
Whenanypersonshallsellpropertyandenterinto
bondorotherwrittenagreementtomaketitlethereto,
andshalldepartthislifewithouthavingmadesuch
title,theownerofsuchbondorwrittenagreementor
hislegalrepresentatives,mayfileacomplaintin
writinginthecourtofthecountywheretheletters
testamentaryorofadministrationontheestateofthe
deceasedobligorweregranted,andcausethepersonal
representativeofsuchestatetobecitedtoappearat
adatestatedinthecitationandshowcausewhy
specificperformanceofsuchbondorwrittenagreement
shouldnotbedecreed.Aftertheserviceofthe
citation,thecourtshallhearsuchcomplaintandthe
evidencethereon,and,ifsatisfiedfromtheproof
thatsuchbondorwrittenagreementwaslegally
executedbythetestatororintestate,andthatthe
complainanthasarighttodemandspecificperformance
thereof,adecreeshallbemadeorderingthepersonal
representativetomaketitletotheproperty,
accordingtothetenoroftheobligation,fully
describingthepropertyinsuchdecree.
TEX.PROB.CODEANN.27(Vernon2003).Theauthorityconferredonthe
probatecourtauthorizingittodecreespecificperformanceofan
agreementbythedecedenttoconveyrealtyisspecialandlimitedandis
tobestrictlyconstrued.SeeJonesv.Taylor,7Tex.240,240(1851).
Anoptionisaprivilegeorrightthattheownerofpropertygives
anothertobuycertainpropertyatafixedprice
Page280
withinacertainperiod.SeeCasaElSolAcapulco,S.A.v.Fontenot,
919S.W.2d709,717n.9(Tex.App.Houston[14thDist.]1996,writdism'd
byagr.).Anoptioncontracthastwocomponents:(1)anunderlying
contractthatisnotbindinguntilacceptedand(2)acovenanttohold
opentotheoptioneetheopportunitytoaccept.Id.Thus,theoptionisa
mereofferthatbindstheoptioneetonothingandthattheoptioneemay
ormaynotacceptatitselection.SeeW.Fed.Sav.&LoanAss'nv.
AtkinsonFin.Corp.,747S.W.2d456,460(Tex.App.FortWorth1988,no
writ)seealsoChambersCountyv.TSPDevelopment,Ltd.,63S.W.3d835,

Page280
withinacertainperiod.SeeCasaElSolAcapulco,S.A.v.Fontenot,
919S.W.2d709,717n.9(Tex.App.Houston[14thDist.]1996,writdism'd
byagr.).Anoptioncontracthastwocomponents:(1)anunderlying
contractthatisnotbindinguntilacceptedand(2)acovenanttohold
opentotheoptioneetheopportunitytoaccept.Id.Thus,theoptionisa
mereofferthatbindstheoptioneetonothingandthattheoptioneemay
ormaynotacceptatitselection.SeeW.Fed.Sav.&LoanAss'nv.
AtkinsonFin.Corp.,747S.W.2d456,460(Tex.App.FortWorth1988,no
writ)seealsoChambersCountyv.TSPDevelopment,Ltd.,63S.W.3d835,
838(Tex.App.Houston[14thDist.]2001,pet.denied).Itisfundamental
thatthegrantingofanoptionconstitutesneitherasaleoftheproperty
noranagreementtosell.SeeStrullerv.McGree,374S.W.2d256,258
(Tex.Civ.App.SanAntonio1963,writref'dn.r.e.).Rather,anoption
is,inasense,amereoffer,yetitcannotberevokedorwithdrawnwhen
itissupportedbysufficientconsideration.SeeNorthsideLumber&
Bldg.Co.v.Neal,23S.W.2d858,859(Tex.Civ.App.FortWorth1929,no
writ).
Inthecaseathand,thesoleavenuebywhichAppelleessoughtspecific
performanceintheirmotionforsummaryjudgmentwasTexasProbateCode,
section27.[fn2]However,Section27islimitedtocircumstancesinwhich
apersonhassoldpropertyorhasenteredintoabondorotherwritten
agreementtomaketitletothatpropertyanddieswithouthavingconveyed
title.SeeTEX.PROB.CODEANN.27.SinceAppellees,bytheirmotion
forsummaryjudgment,soughtspecificperformanceofDotson'soption
agreementwithMildred,andsincethegrantingofanoptiondoesnot
constituteasaleofpropertyoranagreementtosell,seeStruller,
374S.W.2dat258,itfollowsthatAppelleesarenotentitledtoseek
specificperformancebyvirtueofSection27.Therefore,weholdthatthe
trialcourt'sgrantofsummaryjudgmentonsuchgroundsWaserroneous.To
theextentthatAppellants'soleissuerelatestothetrialcourt'sgrant
ofsummaryjudgmentbasedonSection27,itissustained.
STATUTEOFLIMITATIONS
Aspartoftheirsoleissue,Appellantsalsoarguethatthetrialcourt
erredingrantingsummaryjudgmentinAppellees'favorbecauseAppellees
failedtodemonstrateasamatteroflawthatAppellants'counterclaims
werebarredbytheaffirmativedefenseoflimitations.Appellantsraised
thefollowingcounterclaims:breachoffiduciarydutybreachof
contractfraudfraudintheinducementstatutoryfraudandunjust
enrichment.Appellantsdonotarguethattheyfiledtheircounterclaims
withintherespectiveperiodoflimitationsfromthetimeeachoftheir
counterclaimsaccrued.Rather,Appellantscontendthattheir
counterclaimsarenottimebarredpursuanttoTexasCivilPracticeand
RemediesCode,section16.069.Section16.069statesasfollows:
(a)Ifacounterclaimorcrossclaimarisesoutofthe
sametransactionoroccurrencethatisthebasisofan
action,apartytotheactionmayfilethe
counterclaimorcrossclaimeventhoughasaseparate
actionitwouldbebarredbylimitationonthedate
theparty'sanswerisrequired.
(b)Thecounterclaimorcrossclaimmustbefilednot
laterthanthe30thdayafterthedateonwhichthe
party'sanswerisrequired.
Page281
TEX.CIV.PRAC.&REM.CODEANN.16.069(Vernon1997).Itis
undisputedthatAppellantsfiledtheircounterclaimswithinthethirty
daywindowfromthefilingdeadlinefortheiranswer.Thus,weconsider
whetherAppellants'counterclaimseachariseoutofthesametransaction
oroccurrencethatisthebasisofAppellees'action.
TheintentionofSection16.069istopreventaplaintifffromwaiting
untiltheadversary'svalidclaimarisingfromthesametransactionwas
barredbylimitationsbeforeassertinghisownclaim.SeeHobbsTrailers
v.J.T.ArnettGrainCo.,Inc.,560S.W.2d85,8839(Tex.1977).To
determinewhatconstitutesa"transaction,"weemploythelogical
relationshiptest,whichaskswhethertheessentialfactsonwhichthe
claimsarebasedaresignificantlyandlogicallyrelevanttoboth
claims.Cmty.StateBankv.NSWInv.,L.L.C.,38S.W.3d256,258
(Tex.App.Texarkana2001,pet.dism'dw.o.j.)(consideringtheword
"transaction"indeterminingwhetheracounterclaimiscompulsory).Under
thistest,atransactionisflexible,comprehendingaseriesofmany
occurrenceslogicallyrelatedtooneanother.Id.(citingKleinv.
Dooley,933S.W.2d255,259(Tex.App.Houston[14thDist.]1996),rev'd
onothergrounds,949S.W.2d307(Tex.1997)).

determinewhatconstitutesa"transaction,"weemploythelogical
relationshiptest,whichaskswhethertheessentialfactsonwhichthe
claimsarebasedaresignificantlyandlogicallyrelevanttoboth
claims.Cmty.StateBankv.NSWInv.,L.L.C.,38S.W.3d256,258
(Tex.App.Texarkana2001,pet.dism'dw.o.j.)(consideringtheword
"transaction"indeterminingwhetheracounterclaimiscompulsory).Under
thistest,atransactionisflexible,comprehendingaseriesofmany
occurrenceslogicallyrelatedtooneanother.Id.(citingKleinv.
Dooley,933S.W.2d255,259(Tex.App.Houston[14thDist.]1996),rev'd
onothergrounds,949S.W.2d307(Tex.1997)).
Inthecaseathand,Appelleessoughtspecificperformancethrough
theircauseofactionforbreachofcontractaswellaspursuantto
Section27.TheessentialfactualallegationsonwhichAppellees'claims
arebasedareasfollows:(1)onDecember10,1993,Mildredenteredinto
acontractwithDotsonentitled"LeasewithOptionstoPurchase"(2)
pursuanttothetermsofthecontract,Dotsonwasgivenatwentyyear
optiontopurchasethepropertywithallleasepaymentsservingascredits
towardthefinalpurchasepriceand(3)Dotsonacceptedtheoptionto
purchasetheremainingtracts.Appellants'counterclaimsarebasedonthe
followingessentialfactualallegations:(1)Dotsonengagedina
deceptivecampaignwiththegoalofdevelopingafalsefriendshipwith
Mildred,thesolepurposeofwhichwastogainhertrustsothathecould
takeundueadvantageofherandobtainfromherunconscionabletermsand
conditionsfortheleaseandeventualconveyanceofherrealproperty
(2)DotsonmanipulatedMildredinamannertomakeherevenmore
dependentonhimtherebycreatinginMildredanimplicittrustofDotson
bythetimeshesignedthecontract(3)DotsonandMildredenteredinto
thecontractatissueand(4)Dotsonfailedtoperformhisobligations
underthecontractbyusingthepropertyforpurposesotherthan
agriculturalones.
Althoughthecontractatissuecontainsmultipleprovisionsonebeing
aleaseagreementandtheotherbeinganoptiontopurchaselandthere
isnoindicationthatthepartiesintendedtheprovisionstobedistinct
transactions.Thefactsunderlyingbothparties'claimsareclosely
related.Appellants'counterclaimsfocusontheeventsleadingto
formationofthecontractatissuewhileAppellees'claimsstemfromthe
languageofthecontractitself.Sinceweconstruea"transaction"as
flexibleandcomprehendingaseriesofmanyoccurrenceslogicallyrelated
tooneanother,seeCmty.StateBank,38S.W.3dat258,weconcludethat
Appellants'counterclaimsariseoutofthesametransactionasdo
Appellees'claims.Therefore,weholdthatbyvirtueofSection16.069,
AppelleeswereunabletodemonstrateasamatteroflawthatAppellant's
claimsarebarredbylimitations.TotheextentthatAppellants'sole
issuerelatestoAppellees'affirmativedefenseoflimitations,itis
sustained.
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RATIFICATION
Aspartoftheirsoleissue,Appellantsfurtherarguethatthetrial
courterredingrantingsummaryjudgmentinAppellees'favorbecause
AppelleesfailedtodemonstrateasamatteroflawthatAppellants'
counterclaimswerebarredbytheaffirmativedefenseofratification.
Actsdoneinaffirmanceofacontractcanamounttoawaiverof
fraudulentinducementonlywheretheyaredonewithfullknowledgeofthe
fraudandofallmaterialfactsandwiththeintention,clearly
manifested,ofabidingbythecontractandwaivingallrighttorecover
forthedeception.SeeColumbia/HCAHealthcareCorp.v.Cottey,
72S.W.3d735,742(Tex.App.Waco2002,nopet.).Actswhich,althoughin
affirmanceofthecontract,donotindicateanyintentiontowaivethe
fraud,cannotbeheldtooperateasawaiver.Id.Expressratificationof
afraudulentlyinducedcontractisnotnecessary,butanyactbasedona
recognitionofthecontractassubsistingoranyconductinconsistent
withavoidanceofthecontracthastheeffectofwaivingtherightto
rescindthecontractonthebasisoffraud.SeeFeatherlaxCorp.v.
Chandler,412S.W.2d783,788(Tex.Civ.App.CorpusChristi1966,writ
ref'dn.r.e.).Asaresultofratification,thedefraudedpartywaives
thedefenseoffraudandisboundbythetermsofthecontract.See
Bennettv.Mason,572S.W.2d756,759(Tex.Civ.App.Waco1978,writref'd
n.r.e.).
Thequestionislargelyoneofintent.SeeCottey,72S.W.3dat742.
Thatis,theremustbeevidenceofanintenttorelinquishorconduct
thatwarrantsaninferenceofrelinquishment.SeeAndrewsv.Powell,
242S.W.2d656,661(Tex.Civ.App.Texarkana1951,nowrit).Nogeneral
rulecanfitallcases,foreachtransactionmustberesolvedonitsown
facts.SeeIndem.Ins.Co.ofN.Am.v.Sterling,51S.W.2d788,791
(Tex.Civ.App.Beaumont1932,nowrit).Moreover,therecanbenowaiver

Bennettv.Mason,572S.W.2d756,759(Tex.Civ.App.Waco1978,writref'd
n.r.e.).
Thequestionislargelyoneofintent.SeeCottey,72S.W.3dat742.
Thatis,theremustbeevidenceofanintenttorelinquishorconduct
thatwarrantsaninferenceofrelinquishment.SeeAndrewsv.Powell,
242S.W.2d656,661(Tex.Civ.App.Texarkana1951,nowrit).Nogeneral
rulecanfitallcases,foreachtransactionmustberesolvedonitsown
facts.SeeIndem.Ins.Co.ofN.Am.v.Sterling,51S.W.2d788,791
(Tex.Civ.App.Beaumont1932,nowrit).Moreover,therecanbenowaiver
offraudwithoutfullknowledgeofallthecircumstances.SeePetersv.
Lerew,139S.W.2d321,327(Tex.Civ.App.Galveston1940,writdism'd,
judgm'tcor.)MostWorshipfulGrandLodgeFree&AcceptedMasonsof
Tex.v.Hayes,82S.W.2d411,414(Tex.Civ.App.Dallas1935,nowrit)
(thedoctrineofwaiverorratificationisfoundeduponthefactof
knowledgeofallthefacts).
AppellantsarguethatAppelleespresentednoevidencethatMildred(1)
receivedbenefitsunderthecontract,(2)conductedherselfinamanner
indicatingthatshe"recognizedthe[contract]assubsistingand
binding[,]"(3)affirmedthecontract,(4)continuedtocomplywiththe
contractaftershebecameawareoftheallegedfraud,or(5)intendedto
givevaliditytotheactsofAppellees.Havingreviewedthesummary
judgmentrecord,wedisagree.
Inhisdeposition,Wellstestifiedthatinlate1993orearly1994,he
andhismother,Phillips,consultedalawyerastothemeaningofthe
contractMildredhadenteredintowithDotson.Theylaterexpressedto
Mildredtheirconcernthatthecontractwasnotinherbestinterestand
informedherofwhatthelawyerhadtoldthem.Wellsfurthertestified
thatMildredknewasearlyas1994thattherewassomethingwrongwith
thecontractandthatDotsonhadtakenadvantageofher.However,
accordingtoWells,evenwithsuchknowledge,Mildreddeclinedtotake
anyactiontohavethecontractsetaside.
Likewise,Stewarttestifiedinherdepositionthat,in1995,she
explainedtoMildredthatMildredhadnorightsunderthecontract.
StewartfurthertestifiedthatMildredunderstoodherand,aftertelling
Stewartshewouldprayaboutit,laterstated,"Igavemyword,andI
can'tgobackonmyword."Stewartstatedthatit
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washerimpressionthatMildredintendedtokeepherwordtoDotson
pursuanttothetermsoftheagreement.
PhillipstestifiedatherdepositionthatshewaspresentwhenMildred
signedthecontractwithDotson.Phillipsfurthertestifiedthat,atthat
time,shetoldDotson'slawyerinMildred'spresencethatshethought
DotsonwastakingMildred"tothecleaners"becauseDotsonwastryingto
makeafalsefriendshipwithMildredtoinducehertosignthecontract
and,asaresult,MildredlovedDotsonlikeason.Phillipsstatedthat
sheandherson,Wells,laterattemptedtoexplaintoMildredtheeffect
ofthecontract.Phillipsfurtherstatedthatsubsequently,Mildredtold
her,"Ifhetakesmetothecleaners,he'lljusthavetotakeme...
I'veprayedaboutit[.]I'vestudiedonit...Ican'tgobackonmy
word[.]Ican'twelchonadeal."Insummary,Phillipstestifiedthatshe
hadclearlywarnedMildred,Mildredcarefullyconsideredandunderstood
thewarning,anddeterminedthatshewouldnotdoanythingtoundowhat
shefeltwasherobligation.Phillipsconfirmedthatin2003,Mildred
signeddocumentsconveyingpropertytoDotsonpursuanttothecontract.
PhillipsfurtherconfirmedthatMildredreceivedmoneyfromDotson
annuallypursuanttotheiragreementanddepositedthatmoneyinthe
bank.
SterlingtestifiedatherdepositionthatshespokewithMildredin
1995concerningthecontractMildredhadexecutedwithDotson.Sterling
furthertestifiedthatshemadeitcleartoMildredthatDotsonhadtaken
advantageofherandthatMildredunderstoodthis.Sterlingstatedthat
Mildredtearfullysaidtoher,"Ijustcan'tbelieveBuddytookadvantage
ofmelikethat."SterlingfurtherstatedthatMildredfeltthatherword
wasthelawandthatshecouldnotgobackonit.Sterlingtestifiedthat
MildreddidnothingtodisturbheragreementwithDotsonfrom1995until
thedateofherdeathin2005.SterlingfurthertestifiedthatMildred
toldherthat,aftersheenteredintothecontract,PhillipsandWells
hadmetwithalawyerwholookedatthecontract.Sterlingstatedthat
MildredtoldherthatPhillipsandWellsthenmetwithherandshowedher
aletterfromthelawyerinanattempttotrytoconvinceherhowunfair
heragreementwithDotsonwastoher.Sterlingagainconfirmedthat
Mildredchosetonotattempttohavetheagreementsetaside.
Inourreviewofthesummaryjudgmentrecord,wehavenotencountered

MildreddidnothingtodisturbheragreementwithDotsonfrom1995until
thedateofherdeathin2005.SterlingfurthertestifiedthatMildred
toldherthat,aftersheenteredintothecontract,PhillipsandWells
hadmetwithalawyerwholookedatthecontract.Sterlingstatedthat
MildredtoldherthatPhillipsandWellsthenmetwithherandshowedher
aletterfromthelawyerinanattempttotrytoconvinceherhowunfair
heragreementwithDotsonwastoher.Sterlingagainconfirmedthat
Mildredchosetonotattempttohavetheagreementsetaside.
Inourreviewofthesummaryjudgmentrecord,wehavenotencountered
anyevidencethatcontradictstheaforementioneddepositiontestimony
givenbyWells,Stewart,Phillips,andSterlingrespectively.The
testimonyeachofferedislargelyconsistentanddemonstratesthat
MildredactedinaffirmanceofhercontractwithDotsonwithfull
knowledgethathehadtakenadvantageofherandtreatedherunfairly.
MildredcontinuedtoacceptleasepaymentsfromDotson,expressedto
AppelleesthatinspiteofDotson'sacts,she,boundbyherword,intended
toabidebythecontract,and,infact,transferredoneofthetractsof
landtoDotsoninaccordancewiththecontract.Therefore,weholdthat
thetrialcourtdidnoterringrantingsummaryjudgmentonAppellees'
affirmativedefenseofratificationasitpertainstoAppellants'fraud
intheinducementclaim.Ratificationisnotanaffirmativedefenseto
anyofAppellants'remainingcounterclaims.Thus,totheextentthetrial
courtgrantedsummaryjudgmentonthoseremainingcounterclaimsonthe
groundofratification,iterred.TotheextentthatAppellants'sole
issuerelatestoAppellees'affirmativedefenseofratificationand
Appellants'fraudintheinducementclaim,itisoverruled.Totheextent
thatAppellants'soleissuerelatestoAppellees'affirmativedefenseof
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ratificationandAppellants'remainingcounterclaims,itissustained.
STANDING
Aspartoftheirsoleissue,AppellantsalsoarguethatFayeDotson,
whowasnotapartytothecontractatissue,lacksstanding.Because
neitherpartybriefedtheissuefurther,werequestedadditionalbriefing
ontheissue.AppellantsobligedAppelleesdidnot.
Standingisacomponentofsubjectmatterjurisdictionandcannotbe
waived.Tex.Ass'nofBus.v.Tex.AirControlBd.,852S.W.2d440,445
(Tex.1993).Itisaconstitutionalprerequisitetomaintainingasuit
underbothfederalandTexaslaw.Id.at444.UnderTexaslaw,standing
limitssubjectmatterjurisdictiontocasesinvolvingadistinctinjury
totheplaintiffand"arealcontroversybetweentheparties,which..
.willbeactuallydeterminedbythejudicialdeclarationsought."Brown
v.Todd,53S.W.3d297,305(Tex.2001)(quotingTex.Workers'Comp.
Comm'nv.Garcia,893S.W.2d504,51718(Tex.1995)).Inreviewing
standingonappeal,weconstruethepetitioninfavoroftheparty,and
ifnecessary,reviewtheentirerecordtodetermineifanyevidence
supportsstanding.SeeTex.AirControlBd.,852S.W.2dat446.
Thegeneralruleisthatonlythepartiestoacontracthavetheright
tocomplainofabreachthereofandiftheyaresatisfiedwiththe
dispositionthathasbeenmadeofitandallclaimsunderit,athird
personhasnorighttoinsistthatithasbeenbroken.Grinnellv.Munson,
137S.W.3d706,712(Tex.App.SanAntonio2004,nopet.)seealsoBoy
ScoutsofAm.v.ResponsiveTerminalSys.,Inc.,790S.W.2d738,747
(Tex.App.Dallas1990,writdenied)(privityofcontractisanessential
elementofrecoveryincontractactions).Anexceptiontothisruleis
thatapersonwhoisnotinprivitytothewrittenagreementmayshow
thatheiseligibletobringanactiononthecontractasathirdparty
beneficiary.Id.Thereisapresumptionagainstconferringthirdparty
beneficiarystatusonnoncontractingparties.S.Tex.WaterAuth.v.
Lomas,223S.W.3d304,306(Tex.2007)MCITelecomms.Corp.v.Tex.
Utils.Elec.Co.,995S.W.2d647,652(Tex.1999).Indecidingwhethera
thirdpartymayenforceorchallengeacontractbetweenothers,itisthe
contractingparties'intentthatcontrols.Lomas,22ZS.W.3dat306.The
intenttoconferadirectbenefituponathirdpartymustbeclearlyand
fullyspelledoutorenforcementbythethirdpartymustbedenied.Id.
Incidentalbenefitsthatmayflowfromacontracttoathirdpartydonot
confertherighttoenforcethecontract.Id.Athirdpartymayenforcea
contractonlywhenthecontractingpartiesthemselvesintendtosecure
somebenefitforthethirdpartyandenteredintothecontractdirectly
forthethirdparty'sbenefit.Id.Toqualifyasoneforwhosebenefita
contractwasmade,thethirdpartymustbenefitmorethanincidentally
shemustbeeitheradoneeorcreditorbeneficiary.MCITelecomms.Corp.,
995S.W.2dat651.Apersonisadoneebeneficiaryiftheperformance
promisedwillcometoherasapuredonation.Id.Ifperformancewillcome
tosatisfyadutyorlegallyenforceablecommitmentowedbythe
promisee,thenthethirdpartyisconsideredacreditorbeneficiary.Id.

confertherighttoenforcethecontract.Id.Athirdpartymayenforcea
contractonlywhenthecontractingpartiesthemselvesintendtosecure
somebenefitforthethirdpartyandenteredintothecontractdirectly
forthethirdparty'sbenefit.Id.Toqualifyasoneforwhosebenefita
contractwasmade,thethirdpartymustbenefitmorethanincidentally
shemustbeeitheradoneeorcreditorbeneficiary.MCITelecomms.Corp.,
995S.W.2dat651.Apersonisadoneebeneficiaryiftheperformance
promisedwillcometoherasapuredonation.Id.Ifperformancewillcome
tosatisfyadutyorlegallyenforceablecommitmentowedbythe
promisee,thenthethirdpartyisconsideredacreditorbeneficiary.Id.
Intheinstantcase,Appellees'livepleadingsmakenomentionofFaye
Dotsonotherthanastatementidentifyingherasaplaintiff.Sheisnot
apartytothecontractatissuenoristhereanylanguageinthe
contracttoindicatethatthecontractingpartiesintendedhertobea
thirdpartybeneficiary.AsitpertainstoFayeDotson,thesummary
judgmentevidenceestablishes
Page285
littlemorethanthat,asof2006,sheandDotsonweremarriedfortwenty
yearsandthatshewaspresentwhentheagreementwassigned.Thus,at
most,Fayehasapresumptivecommunitypropertyinterestintheoption
inasmuchasitispropertyDotsonacquiredduringtheirmarriage.See
TEX.FAM.CODEANN.3.003(Vernon2006).Yet,theoption,whichDotson
acquiredbycontractinhisnamealone,ispresumedtobehissole
managementcommunityproperty.SeeTEX.FAM.CODEANN.3.104(Vernon
2006).Assuch,FayeDotsonlacksstandingtobringsuitontheoption
contractbecauseDotsonhasthesoleauthoritytobringanactionrelated
tosuchsolemanagementcommunityproperty.SeeBlackmanv.Bd.of
Adjustment,CityofDallas,No.059800953CV,2000WL1239981,at*3
(Tex.App.DallasAug.31,2000,pet.denied)(notdesignatedfor
publication)(wife'sfinancialsupportinterestinhusband'spersonal
earningsduringmarriagedidnotsupportstandingtobringcauseof
actionrelatedtohusband'semployment).Thus,basedonourreviewofthe
record,weconcludethatthereisnoevidencetosupportthatFayeDotson
hadstandingtosueforbreachofcontract.Totheextentthat
Appellants'soleissuerelatestoFayeDotson'sstanding,itis
sustained.
CONCLUSION
WehaveheldthatFayeDotsonlacksstandinganddismissforwantof
jurisdictionastoher.Wereversethetrialcourt'ssummaryjudgmentto
theextentthatitwasbasedonDotson'sclaimpursuanttoTexasProbate
Code,section27andrenderjudgmentthatDotsontakenothingpursuantto
hisSection27claim.Moreover,totheextentthatthetrialcourt's
summaryjudgmentwasbasedonDotson'saffirmativedefenseof
limitations,wereversethetrialcourt'ssummaryjudgmentandremandfor
furtherconsiderationoftherespectiveparties'remainingclaimsand/or
counterclaims.HavingoverruledtheremainderofAppellants'soleissue,
weaffirminallotherrespectsthetrialcourt'ssummaryjudgmentasto
Dotson.
[fn1]Dotsonhadexercisedhisoptiontopurchaseonetractoflandprior
toMildred'sdeath.

[fn2]Summaryjudgmentcannotbesustainedonagroundnotspecifically
setforthinthemotion.McConnellv.SouthsideInd.Sch.Dist.,
858S.W.2d337,339(Tex.1993).

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