In In re Estate of Vines, a probate court appointed a receiver over a business that was owned by a decedent. No. 01-21-00003-CV, 2022 Tex. App. LEXIS 2327 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] April 12, 2022, no pet. history). After the decedent died, her grandchildren challenged a new will and other documents that were executed by their grandmother in favor of the grandmother’s nephew. The trial court appointed a temporary administrator and later appointed a receiver over a business that was owned by the grandmother, but that was now controlled by the nephew. The nephew appealed the receivership order on multiple grounds.

The nephew first argued that the business had been transferred to him outside of probate, and that the probate court had no jurisdiction to appoint a receiver over that non-probate asset. The court of appeals held that he waived that argument by not securing a ruling on it, and the court held that the issue was still before the trial court. The nephew also challenged the appointment of a receiver under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 64.001(3). That provision provides that a court may appoint a receiver:

(1) in an action by a vendor to vacate a fraudulent purchase of property; (2) in an action by a creditor to subject any property or fund to his claim; (3) in an action between partners or others jointly owning or interested in any property or fund; (4) in an action by a mortgagee for the foreclosure of the mortgage and sale of the mortgaged property; (5) for a corporation that is insolvent, is in imminent danger of insolvency, has been dissolved, or has forfeited its corporate rights; or (6) in any other case in which a receiver may be appointed under the rules of equity.

Id. (citing Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 64.001(a)). The court of appeals noted that the trial court’s receivership order simply cited to Section 64.001 and did not specify which subsection it was basing its ruling on. The court then held that the nephew waived his complaint by not challenging all grounds upon which the trial court based its ruling:

The probate court’s January 11, 2021 order appointing a receiver stated it was appointing a receiver pursuant to Chapter 64 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, but it did not specify which subsection it was relying on in granting the appointment of a receiver. Thus, on appeal, it was incumbent on Kenneth to attack all possible grounds. Here, Kenneth does not attack all independent grounds that support the probate court’s order. Specifically, Kenneth assigns no error to subsection (a)(6), which generally allows a probate court to appoint a receiver under the rules of equity. By failing to attack this independent ground, Kenneth has waived error, if any

Id. The nephew also challenged the order under Texas Business Organizations Code Section 11.404, but the court similarly held that he waived that argument by not challenging all grounds thereunder. The court affirmed the receivership order.

Photo of David Fowler Johnson David Fowler Johnson

dfjohnson@winstead.com
817.420.8223

David maintains an active trial and appellate practice and has consistently worked on financial institution litigation matters throughout his career. David is the primary author of the The Fiduciary Litigator blog, which reports on legal cases and issues impacting the fiduciary…

dfjohnson@winstead.com
817.420.8223

David maintains an active trial and appellate practice and has consistently worked on financial institution litigation matters throughout his career. David is the primary author of the The Fiduciary Litigator blog, which reports on legal cases and issues impacting the fiduciary field in Texas. Read More

David’s financial institution experience includes (but is not limited to): breach of contract, foreclosure litigation, lender liability, receivership and injunction remedies upon default, non-recourse and other real estate lending, class action, RICO actions, usury, various tort causes of action, breach of fiduciary duty claims, and preference and other related claims raised by receivers.

David also has experience in estate and trust disputes including will contests, mental competency issues, undue influence, trust modification/clarification, breach of fiduciary duty and related claims, and accountings. David’s recent trial experience includes:

  • Representing a bank in federal class action suit where trust beneficiaries challenged whether the bank was the authorized trustee of over 220 trusts;
  • Representing a bank in state court regarding claims that it mismanaged oil and gas assets;
  • Representing a bank who filed suit in probate court to modify three trusts to remove a charitable beneficiary that had substantially changed operations;
  • Represented an individual executor of an estate against claims raised by a beneficiary for breach of fiduciary duty and an accounting; and
  • Represented an individual trustee against claims raised by a beneficiary for breach of fiduciary duty, mental competence of the settlor, and undue influence.

David is one of twenty attorneys in the state (of the 84,000 licensed) that has the triple Board Certification in Civil Trial Law, Civil Appellate and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Additionally, David is a member of the Civil Trial Law Commission of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This commission writes and grades the exam for new applicants for civil trial law certification.

David maintains an active appellate practice, which includes:

  • Appeals from final judgments after pre-trial orders such as summary judgments or after jury trials;
  • Interlocutory appeals dealing with temporary injunctions, arbitration, special appearances, sealing the record, and receiverships;
  • Original proceedings such as seeking and defending against mandamus relief; and
  • Seeking emergency relief staying trial court’s orders pending appeal or mandamus.

For example, David was the lead appellate lawyer in the Texas Supreme Court in In re Weekley Homes, LP, 295 S.W.3d 309 (Tex. 2009). The Court issued a ground-breaking opinion in favor of David’s client regarding the standards that a trial court should follow in ordering the production of computers in discovery.

David previously taught Appellate Advocacy at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law located in Fort Worth. David is licensed and has practiced in the U.S. Supreme Court; the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Federal Circuits; the Federal District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas; the Texas Supreme Court and various Texas intermediate appellate courts. David also served as an adjunct professor at Baylor University Law School, where he taught products liability and portions of health law. He has authored many legal articles and spoken at numerous legal education courses on both trial and appellate issues. His articles have been cited as authority by the Texas Supreme Court (twice) and the Texas Courts of Appeals located in Waco, Texarkana, Beaumont, Tyler and Houston (Fourteenth District), and a federal district court in Pennsylvania. David’s articles also have been cited by McDonald and Carlson in their Texas Civil Practice treatise, William v. Dorsaneo in the Texas Litigation Guide, and various authors in the Baylor Law ReviewSt. Mary’s Law JournalSouth Texas Law Review and Tennessee Law Review.

Representative Experience

  • Civil Litigation and Appellate Law