In In re Robinett, a party filed a petition for writ of mandamus, challenging a trial court’s order appointing a temporary administrator. No. 03-21-00649-CV, 2022 Tex. App. LEXIS 926 (Tex. App.—Austin February 9, 2022, original proc.). The petitioner complained that the trial court failed to hold an evidentiary hearing and also appointed a temporary administrator without a bond. Regarding the hearing complaint, the court of appeals disagreed:

Under Section 55.001 of the Texas Estates Code, “[a] person interested in an estate may, at any time before the court decides an issue in a proceeding, file written opposition regarding the issue.” Relators are correct that such interested persons are entitled “to process for witness and evidence, and to be heard on the opposition.” Id. But, based on the record before us, they did not file any “written opposition” to the appointment until they filed their motion to reconsider three days after the appointment had already been decided. The trial court therefore did not abuse its discretion by appointing the temporary administrator without first conducting a hearing pursuant to Section 55.001 because there was no requirement for the trial court to hold a hearing under that statute.

Id. The court, however, agreed that the trial court abused its discretion by appointing the temporary administrator without bond:

The Estates Code expressly requires that the order appointing a temporary administrator “set the amount of bond to be given by the appointee.” Moreover, the Estates Code requires that a party must enter into a bond unless they meet one of a limited number of exceptions: (1) a will directs that no bond be required; (2) all the relevant parties consent to not requiring bond; or (3) the appointee is a corporate fiduciary. And other statutory provisions require a hearing and evidence before “setting the amount of a bond.” Based on the record before us, there is no evidence that the temporary administrator met any of the exceptions to the bonding requirement, nor is there any indication that the trial court undertook any evidentiary hearing regarding the bond amount. Accordingly, the trial court abused its discretion by failing to follow the statutory requirements for setting bonds as part of a temporary administrator appointment.

Id.

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