Garcia et al v. Maxim Commercial Capital, LLC
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART, DENYING IN PART 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment , GRANTING 16 Reply/Motion to Strike.(Signed by Judge Gray H Miller) Parties notified.(rkonieczny, 4)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
ROBERTO GARCIA and LA CIMA, INC.,
d/b/a LA CIMA, LLC,
d/b/a TRUCKNATION SALES, INC.,
MAXIM COMMERCIAL CAPITAL, LLC,
CIVIL ACTION H-16-3550
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Pending before the court are (1) defendant Maxim Commercial Capital, LLC’s (“Maxim”)
motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 13); and (2) Maxim’s motion to strike (Dkt. 16). The motion
to strike is contained within Maxim’s reply to the plaintiffs’ response to Maxim’s motion for
summary judgment. Dkt. 16. Having considered the motion for summary judgment, response, reply
and motion to strike, surreply, record evidence, and applicable law, the court finds that Maxim’s
motion for summary judgment should be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART and
Maxim’s motion to strike should be GRANTED.
This case relates to a contract between Maxim, a commercial finance company, plaintiff La
Cima LLC, d/b/a Trucknation (“Trucknation”), a Texas commercial vehicle dealership, and plaintiff
Roberto Garcia, the owner and operator of Trucknation. Dkt. 1-2 (original petition). These parties
entered into a Vendor Recourse Agreement (“VRA”) on October 30, 2013. Dkt. 13, Ex. A-1. Under
the terms of the VRA, Garcia and Trucknation acted as guarantors for Equipment Finance
Agreements (“EFAs”) entered into by Maxim and obligors who purchased trucks and personal
property from Trucknation. Id. The VRA specifically noted that the EFAs would be “identified as
from signing date of this agreement forward hereto, and attached to this agreement from time to time
as Exhibit ‘A’.” Id. The VRA also set forth Garcia and Trucknation’s responsibilities as guarantors,
stating that if Maxim notified them of a default, they would pay Maxim the Guaranteed Balance of
the Agreement. Id.
After entering into the VRA, Maxim entered into at least four EFAs with obligors. Dkt. 13,
Exs. A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5. The copies of the EFAs supplied to the court by Maxim all have a title
page labeled “EXHIBIT A: VENDOR RECOURSE AGREEMENT.” Dkt. 13, Exs. A-2, A-3, A-4,
A-5. The copies of the EFAs supplied by Trucknation, which it contends were sent by Maxim along
with a demand letter before Trucknation filed suit, include a page entitled “EXHIBIT A: VENDOR
RECOURSE AGREEMENT,” but it is not the first page of these exhibits. Dkt. 14 at 4 n.1; Dkt. 14,
Exs. A–D. Individuals who worked at Trucknation signed each EFA on the page marked “EXHIBIT
A” in a spot labeled “Acknowledged: TRUCKNATION.” Dkt. 13, Exs. A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5.
Maxim’s custodian of records provided an affidavit in which he testifies that the EFAs were attached
to the VRA as they were executed. Dkt. 13, Ex. A ¶ 16. Maxim funded the EFAs, and the
Trucknation customers defaulted within the first calendar year. Id. ¶¶ 17–18. Trucknation initially
made the monthly payments on the defaulted EFAs, but it discontinued doing so after multiple
customers defaulted. Id. ¶ 19. Maxim contends that, as of October 21, 2016, Trucknation owes
Maxim $165,857.10 for the defaulted loans.
On November 2, 2016, Garcia and Trucknation filed an original and amended petition against
Maxim in the 215th Judicial District Court in Harris County, Texas. Dkt. 1-2. The amended petition
seeks a declaratory judgment that (1) the VRA does not incorporate the EFAs; (2) the EFAs do not
incorporate the VRA; and (3) neither Trucknation nor Garcia is the guarantor under the EFAs entered
into between Maxim and Trucknation customers. Id. Garcia and Trucknation also seek attorneys’
On December 2, 2016, Maxim removed the case to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Dkt. 1. On December 7, 2016, Maxim filed an answer and counterclaims against Garcia and
Trucknation for breach of contract and promissory estoppel. Dkt. 3. Maxim also requested
attorneys’ fees. Id. Garcia and Trucknation did not file an answer to the counterclaims. See Dkt.
(Dec. 7, 2016 through Dec. 29, 2016); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(1)(B) (“A party must serve an answer
to a counterclaim or crossclaim within 21 days after being served with the pleading that states the
counterclaim or crossclaim.”).
On June 30, 2017, Maxim filed the instant motion for summary judgment, arguing that the
summary judgment evidence affirmatively establishes each element of Maxim’s breach of contract
and promissory estoppel claims and that it is entitled to attorneys’ fees. Dkt. 13. Maxim also argues
that Garcia and Trucknation’s claim for a declaratory judgment fails as a matter of law because the
VRA and the EFAs fully incorporate each other. Id. Maxim requests a final judgment in its favor
of $165,857.10 and a dismissal of all claims asserted by Garcia and Trucknation. Id.
Garcia and Trucknation oppose Maxim’s motion, asserting that the only promise Trucknation
made in the EFAs was to register Maxim as a lienholder with the State Department of Motor
Vehicles and that a Trucknation employee signed each agreement as a notary and witness. Dkt. 14.
Garcia and Trucknation note that these signatures were in a spot labeled “acknowledged” not
“agreed.” Id. Garcia and Trucknation agree that the customers defaulted, and they contend that
Maxim eventually abandoned the collection effort and chose not the repossess the customers’
collateral. Id. Garcia and Trucknation contend that the VRA and EFAs do not incorporate each
other, as incorporation by reference requires more than merely mentioning a document. Id.
Moreover, they assert that the debts in question had to be in existence at the time the agreement was
executed in order to comply with the statute of frauds. Id. Garcia and Trucknation also contend that
the promissory estoppel exception to the statute of frauds does not apply. Id.
Maxim filed a reply. Dkt. 16. It asserts first that Garcia and Trucknation’s assertions relating
to Maxim’s collection and pursuit of the underlying debt are not supported by an affidavit or any
evidence, and it moves to strike these statements. Id. It then argues that the uncontroverted
summary judgment evidence conclusively establishes that the EFAs were attached to the VRA. Id.
And it asserts that the statute of frauds does not apply because the facts of this case comply with the
partial performance exception to the statute of frauds. Id. It also argues that even if the exception
did not apply, the EFAs themselves are writings that comply with the statute. Id.
Garcia and Trucknation filed a surreply. Dkt. 20. They assert that the facts in their response
relating to Maxim’s collection efforts are fully supported by the demand letter Maxim sent to
Trucknation on October 25, 2016, which Maxim attached as Exhibit A-8 to its motion for summary
judgment. Id. They also provide additional argument regarding whether the agreements incorporate
each other, asserting that neither agreement incorporates the other by plain reference.
Additionally, they argue that Maxim has not met its burden to prove the partial performance
exception to the statute of frauds. Id.
The motion for summary judgment is now ripe for disposition.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A court shall grant summary judgment when a “movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a). “[A] fact is genuinely in dispute only if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the nonmoving party.” Fordoche, Inc. v. Texaco, Inc., 463 F.3d 388, 392 (5th Cir. 2006). The
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). If the moving party meets
its burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing a genuine
issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable
to the non-movant and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-movant.
Conservation Org. v. City of Dallas, 529 F.3d 519, 524 (5th Cir. 2008).
The court will first address Maxim’s motion to strike, which is contained in its reply to
Garcia and Trucknation’s response. Then, it will address the substantive issues raised in the motion
for summary judgment. With regard to those substantive issues, the parties only dispute the legal
significance of the content of the EFAs and the VRA. The court will address three claims: (1)
Maxim’s breach of contract claim and Garcia and Trucknation’s parallel argument for declaratory
judgment on that claim; (2) Maxim’s alternative claim for promissory estoppel; and (3) both parties’
claims for attorneys’ fees.
Motion to Strike
Maxim moves to strike Garcia and Trucknation’s assertions regarding Maxim’s efforts to
collect debt from the obligors and Maxim’s efforts to pursue the obligors’ collateral, arguing that
there is no evidentiary support in the record for these assertions. Dkt. 16. Garcia and Trucknation
contend that these facts are supported by Maxim’s demand letter that Trucknation attached as an
exhibit to its motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 20. That letter does not clearly assert that Maxim
did not attempt to collect the debt or obtain collateral. See Dkt. 13, Ex. A-8. However, the court
assumes that Garcia and Trucknation are referring to the fact that the letter does advise Garcia of the
following “key term” in the VRA stating that the contract does not “obligate Maxim to take any
action with respect to the Equipment or with respect to any Event of Default. Maxim’s right to
require Guarantors to pay the Guaranteed Balance shall be unaffected by . . . the condition or location
of the Equipment or any other circumstances.” Id. The VRA, indeed, states: “Nothing herein shall
obligate Maxim to take any action with respect to the Equipment or with respect to any Event of
Default.” Dkt. 13, Ex. A-1. Thus, it appears that the statement is actually not even relevant to this
Regardless, the court finds that there is no support in the record for Garcia and Trucknation’s
statements regarding Maxim’s actual efforts, or lack thereof, to collect from the obligors. Instead,
there is simply a record of what the contract required of Maxim in this regard: nothing. Maxim’s
motion to strike (Dkt. 16) is GRANTED.
Breach of Contract
In pleading a breach of contract, a plaintiff generally must plead facts showing: (1) the
existence of a valid contract; (2) performance or tendered performance by the plaintiff; (3) breach
of the contract by the defendant; and (4) damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the breach.
Mullins v. TestAmerica, Inc., 564 F.3d 386, 418 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Aguiar v. Segal, 167
S.W.3d 443, 450 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, pet. denied)).
The primary issue whether the EFAs are part of the parties’ agreement. The parties do not
dispute that Maxim performed its duties under the VRA by financing each of the debtors’ purchases
of Trucknation vehicles and equipment. See Dkts. 13, 14. Additionally, neither party disputes that
four debtors defaulted on their respective EFAs. Dkts. 13, 14. Neither party disputes that
Trucknation failed to pay Maxim on all the defaults, or that Maxim was damaged by the defaults.
Dkts. 13, 14. However, Garcia and Trucknation argue that they did not agree to pay Maxim if the
customers defaulted; Maxim disagrees. Dkts. 13, 14.
The parties disagree about (1) whether the VRA and the EFAs incorporate each other; and
(2) whether Trucknation was a party to the EFAs. Dkt. 14. Additionally, Garcia and Trucknation
contend that the VRA does not satisfy the statute of frauds. Dkts. 14, 20. The court first addresses
the issue of incorporation, then addressees whether Trucknation was party to the EFAs, and lastly
the court addresses the statute of frauds defense.
Both parties agree that, “an unsigned paper may be incorporated by reference in the paper
signed by the person sought to be charged. The language used is not important provided the
document signed by the defendant plainly refers to another writing . . . [S]everal instruments may
be read together when it appears from their terms that they necessarily relate to the same
transaction.” Owen v. Hendricks, 433 S.W.2d 164, 166 (Tex. 1968); Dkts.13, 14. The parties
disagree whether the VRA and the EFAs relate to the same transaction. Dkts. 13, 14.
Garcia and Trucknation claim that the EFAs did not incorporate the VRA, and therefore they
did not breach the VRA when the debtors defaulted on their payments to Maxim and Garcia and
Trucknation refused to pay. Dkt. 13. Garcia and Trucknation additionally assert that the EFAs were
not incorporated in the VRA by reference. Id. Garcia and Trucknation argue that “[t]he absence of
such a reference within the signed document ‘shows that the parties did not intend to contract with
reference to the other instrument.’” Dkt. 14 (citing Trico Marine Servs., Inc. v. Stewart & Stevenson
Tech. Servs., Inc., 73 S.W.3d 545, 549 (Tex. App.—Houston (1st Dist.) 2002, no pet.)). Garcia and
Trucknation rely heavily on the First Court of Appeals in Houston opinion in Trico Marine Services
v. Stewart & Stevenson Technical Services; in which the court held that the mere mention of the
words “General Terms and Conditions of Sale” in the table of contents of an agreement and as the
heading of a section in the agreement did not plainly refer to a separate document. See 73 S.W.3d
at 550; Dkt. 14. Accordingly, Garcia and Trucknation argue that “Exhibit A Vendor Recourse
Agreement,” which was at the top of each EFA, was insufficient to incorporate the EFAs into the
VRA. Dkt. 14; see Dkt. 13, Exs. A-1, A-2. In addition, Garcia and Trucknation argue that the EFAs
were not physically attached to the VRA at “the time of contracting” and that the lack of attachment
is relevant to determining whether the documents were incorporated. Dkt. 20 at 3–4 (quoting Trico
73 S.W.3d at 551).
Maxim disagrees, arguing that the VRA and the EFAs are part of the “same transaction” and
Garcia and Trucknation are thus bound to pay Maxim on the guarantees. Dkt. 14 (citing Owen, 433
S.W.2d at 166). Maxim points out that the VRA refers explicitly to the EFAs and that each EFA was
labeled “Exhibit A” in accordance with the terms of the VRA. Dkt. 14 at 10 & Exs. A-1, A-2, A-3,
A-4, A-5. Thus, Maxim argues, “it is clear from these documents that the parties’ intent as expressed
in the terms of these agreements were that they operate together.” Dkt. 14 at 10.
The court agrees with Maxim. Incorporation requires a connection between the documents
expressed either by reference to each other or by reference to the same transaction. Douglass v. Tex.-
Canadian Oil Corp., 174 S.W.2d 730, 31 (Tex. 1943). The VRA states that Garcia and Trucknation
are guarantors “for the [EFAs] (each an ‘Agreement’) identified as from signing date of this
agreement forward hereto, and attached to this agreement from time to time as Exhibit ‘A’.”
Dkt. 14, Ex. A-1 ¶ 1. The VRA manifests the intent of the parties to incorporate and attach future
EFAs by labeling them “Exhibit A.” See Dkt. 14, Exs. A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5. Each EFA reads in bold,
“Exhibit A Vendor Recourse Agreement” at the top of the first page. Dkt. 14, Exs. A-2 at 12, A-3
at 27, A-4 at 38, A-5 at 50. Furthermore, each EFA, together with the VRA, necessarily relates to
the same transaction between Maxim and Garcia and Trucknation. See Owen, 433 S.W.2d at 166.
Moreover, if the EFAs were not incorporated into the VRA, the VRA would be meaningless, and
Garcia and Trucknation would have agreed to guarantee nothing. Cf. Blaylock v. Am. Guarantee
Bank Liability Ins. Co., 632 S.W.2d 719, 722 (Tex. 1982) (“A contract will not be construed so as
to render some of its terms meaningless.”).
On the issue of attachment and incorporation, Garcia and Trucknation rely on Trico to
support their arguments, but they do not mention another case discussed in Trico that relates more
directly to the instant case. In Trico, the court determined that merely mentioning “General Terms
and Conditions of Sale” in a table of contents and as a heading did “not plainly refer, as a matter of
law, to any separate document.” Trico, 73 S.W.3d at 549. The Trico court, however, distinguished
its facts from those in Castroville Airport, Inc. v. City of Castroville. Id. at 550. The court in
Castroville Airport held that an agreement “plainly referring to documents ‘attached [as] Exhibit A’
and ‘attached as Exhibit B’ incorporated those exhibits by reference, even if the parties disputed
whether the exhibits were actually attached.” Trico, 73 S.W.3d at 550 (quoting 974 S.W.2d 207,
211–12 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1998, no writ)). Similarly, here, the statement of attachment by
reference in the VRA was sufficient to incorporate each of the EFAs into the VRA.
The court holds that the VRA incorporated each of the EFAs by reference.
Party to the Agreement
Garcia and Trucknation argue that Trucknation was not a party to the EFAs and that
Trucknation’s employees only signed each EFA as a notary or witness. Dkt. 14 at 7. Garcia and
Trucknation assert that “there is no language whatsoever that gives any indication that Trucknation
is assuming the duties, rights, or responsibilities of a Guarantor under the EFA.” Id. Rather, “[h]ad
Maxim included the two-page vendor 2013 Recourse Agreement with each EFA, and obtained
Robert Garcia’s and Trucknation’s signatures, a Guarantor obligation may have been created.” Id.
Maxim argues that Garcia and Trucknation concede that if the VRA was attached to the
EFAs, then Garcia and Trucknation had obligations to Maxim as guarantors. Dkt. 16 at 2–3 (citing
Dkt. 14 at 10). Maxim notes that its custodian of records testified via affidavit that the EFAs were
marked “EXHIBIT A VENDER RECOURSE AGREEMENT” and attached to the VRA. Dkt. 13
& Ex. A.
Garcia and Trucknation point out that the testimony of Maxim’s custodian of records
indicates, at best, that the VRA may have been attached at the time the EFAs were executed, but the
evidence in this case—namely the EFAs that are in evidence—do not have the VRA attached.
Dkt. 20. Garcia and Trucknation assert that the relevant question is whether the document was
attached at the time of contracting, and the evidence here indicates that it was not. Id.
Regardless of the timing of attachment, the court holds that Trucknation was a party to the
EFAs. Though the VRA contemplates the incorporation of the EFAs and the VRA would be
rendered meaningless if the EFAs were not incorporated, the record contains even more evidence
that Trucknation was a party. Dkt. 13, Ex. A-1. On December 29, 2014, Beatrice Rodriguez signed
for Trucknation on EFA No. TR3435 as a member of “Finance.” Dkt. 13, Ex. A-3 at 27.
On April 30, 2015, Mary Lou Rocha signed EFA No. 3845 as Trucknation’s “Finance Manager.”
Dkt. 13, Ex. A-2 at 12. On May 22, 2015, Beatrice Rodriguez signed for Trucknation on EFA No.
TR3922 as a member of “Finance.” Dkt. 13, Ex. A-4 at 38. On July 6, 2015, Beatrice Rodriguez
signed for Trucknation on EFA No. TR4033 as a member of “Finance.” Dkt. 13, Ex. A-5 at 50.
Each signature appears on the front page of each EFA under the title, “Exhibit A Vendor Recourse
Agreement,” and indicates Trucknation’s acknowledgment of each EFA. Dkt. 13, Exs. A-2 at 12,
A-3 at 27, A-4 at 38, A-5 at 50. Clearly, when signing this document, these Trucknation employees
were acknowledging that the EFAs were being incorporated into the VRA, as the EFAs were marked
just as the VRA, which was signed by Garcia, contemplated.
The court holds that Trucknation was a party to each EFA as it was incorporated into the
Statute of Frauds Defense
Garcia and Trucknation raise a statute of frauds defense for the first time in their response
to Maxim’s motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 14. Garcia and Trucknation argue that the statute
of frauds applies to guaranty agreements. Id. (citing Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 26.01). They
then argue that the EFAs were not in existence at the time of the writing of the VRA. Id. Because
the VRA did not identify the debtor at the time of signing, the contract must fail automatically under
the statute of frauds. Id.
Maxim argues that the statute of frauds does not apply because partial performance renders
the defense unavailable. Dkt. 16 (citing Stovall & Assoc., P.C. v. Hibbs Fin. Ctr., Ltd., 409 S.W.3d
790, 800 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2013, no pet.). Maxim asserts that so long as the actions that constitute
partial performance are referable to the agreement and corroborate the existence of that agreement,
then the statute of frauds defense does not apply. Id. Since Trucknation initially tendered monthly
payments pursuant to the terms of the VRA, Maxim argues, Trucknation’s actions constitute partial
performance. Dkt. 16 (citing Dkt. 13, Ex. 1 at 6). In addition, Maxim argues that because the EFAs
are also writings signed by the parties sought to be charged, the statute of frauds does not apply. Id.
In a diversity case, like this one, substantive state law determines what constitutes an
affirmative defense. LSREF2 Baron, L.L.C. v. Tauch, 751 F.3d 394, 398 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing
Lucas v. United States, 807 F.2d 414, 417 (5th Cir. 1986)). The statute of frauds is an affirmative
defense under Texas law. Tex. R. Civ. P. 94. It is an affirmative defense that must be specially pled,
and fair notice of the affirmative defense is required. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c); Automated Med. Labs.
v. Armour Pharm. Co., 629 F.2d 1118, 22–23 (5th Cir. 1980). The first problem with Garcia and
Trucknation’s statute of frauds argument, then, is that Garcia and Trucknation did not affirmatively
plead the statute of frauds.
However, even if Garcia and Trucknation had pled the statute of frauds, their argument
would fail. The defense does not apply. The statute of frauds requires a written memorandum,
“merely to furnish written evidence, signed by the party to be charged, of the obligation to be
enforced against him. The written memorandum may be made after the agreement.” Joiner v. Elrod,
716 S.W.2d 606, 609 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 1986, no writ) (internal citations omitted). Both
the VRA and the EFAs were signed writings, which evidence the transactions. Thus, the statute of
frauds defense does not apply.
The court holds that Garcia and Trucknation’s statute of frauds defense does not apply to its
transactions with Maxim. The court holds that Garcia and Trucknation breached their contract with
Maxim on each of the defaulted EFAs. Maxim’s motion for summary judgment on its breach of
contract claim is GRANTED. Maxim is entitled to recover actual economic damages in the amount
A party can only be successful on a promissory estoppel claim where no valid contract exists.
Doctors Hosp. 1997, L.P. v. Sambuca Hous., L.P., 154 S.W.3d 634, 636 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th
Dist.] 2004, pet. abated). Since a valid contract exists in this case, Maxim’s promissory estoppel
claim does not apply.
Maxim’s motion for summary judgment on its promissory estoppel claim is DENIED.
Trucknation’s Request for a Declaratory Judgment
Maxim requests that the court enter summary judgment in its favor and dismiss Garcia and
Trucknation’s claim for a declaratory judgment. Dkt. 14. Since the court has granted Maxim’s
motion for summary judgment on its breach of contract claim in Maxim’s favor, it consequently
GRANTS Maxim’s motion for summary judgment on Garcia and Trucknation’s request for a
declaratory judgment that the VRA and EFAs do not incorporate each other and that neither
Trucknation nor Garcia are guarantors under the EFAs. Garcia and Trucknation’s declaratory
judgment claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Both parties have requested attorneys’ fees in this matter. Since Maxim has prevailed on its
breach of contract claim and the court has dismissed Garcia and Trucknation’s only claim, Garcia
and Trucknation’s request for attorneys’ fees is DENIED.
Maxim requests $10,000.00 in attorneys’ fees. Dkt. 13. Under Texas Civil Practices and
Remedies Code section 38.001, a party that recovers for a breach of contract claim in Texas is
entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees. Maxim contends that $10,000.00 are reasonable and necessary
attorneys’ fees, and it attaches an affidavit of its attorney asserting that Maxim has incurred
attorneys’ fees of $10,000 in this case, and that those fees were incurred because Maxim’s attorney
drafted the notice of removal, the statement regarding removed cases, the original answer and
counterclaims, the disclosure statement, the joint ADR report, the report of Rule 26f conference, the
agreed Rule 16 scheduling order, and the motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 13, Ex. B.
Additionally, its counsel attended the Rule 26f conference. Id. He states that the fees were
calculated at $310.00 per hour and that a fee of $10,000.00 is reasonable and customary for the
services rendered. Id.
The court finds that $10,000.00, which equates to just over 32 hours of work at $310.00 an
hour, is a reasonable fee for the work Maxim’s counsel has performed in this case. Accordingly,
Maxim’s request for attorneys’ fees amounting to $10,000.00 is GRANTED.
Maxim requests prejudgment interest at a rate of eight percent from October 21, 2016,
through judgment. Dkt. 13. “The prevailing plaintiff in a contract case tried under Texas law is
entitled to an award of prejudgment interest in all but exceptional circumstances.” Am. Int’l Trading
Corp. v. Petroleos Mexicanos, 835 F.2d 536, 541 (5th Cir. 1987); see also, e.g., Joy Pipe, USA, L.P.
v. ISMT Ltd., No. 16-20293, 2017 WL 3080901, at *2 (5th Cir. July 19, 2017) (per curiam)
(reiterating the Fifth Circuit’s interpretation of Texas law on this matter as requiring equitable
prejudgment interest “as a matter of course, absent exceptional circumstances”). The VRA sets an
interest rate of eight percent per annum. Dkt. 13, Ex. A-1. The court therefore finds that Maxim is
entitled to prejudgment interest and that eight percent is the appropriate prejudgment interest rate.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a), “[i]nterest shall be allowed on any money judgment in a civil
case recovered in a district court. . . . Such interest shall be calculated from the date of the entry of
the judgment at a rate equal to the weekly average 1-year constant maturity Treasury yield, as
published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, for the calendar week preceding
the date of judgment.” Under § 1961(b), this interest “shall be computed daily to the date of
payment, “ with some exceptions, “and shall be compounded annually.” Maxim is entitled to postjudgment interest in accordance with this statute.
Maxim’s motion to strike contained in its reply (Dkt. 16) is GRANTED.
Maxim’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
It is GRANTED with regard to its breach of contract counterclaim and Garcia and Trucknation’s
declaratory judgment claim. Trucknation’s claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Since the
court finds there is a valid contract and will enter judgment in Maxim’s favor on the contract,
Maxim’s request for summary judgment on its promissory estoppel counterclaim is DENIED. The
promissory estoppel claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Maxim’s request for attorneys’ fees is GRANTED, and Trucknation’s request for attorneys’
fees is DENIED. Maxim’s request for conditional attorneys’ fees, which is discussed in its
attorneys’ affidavit and proposed order and refers to appeals to the Texas Supreme Court rather than
the Fifth Circuit, is DENIED. See Dkt. 13, Ex. B (affidavit) (noting that the attorneys’ fees “are
expected to be $10,000.00 if appealed to the Texas Court of Appeals, $5,000.00 if a petition for
review is sought with the Texas Supreme Court, and $5,000.00 is a petition for review is granted”);
Dkt. 13-2 (proposed order) (providing for an award of conditional attorneys fees if Maxim prevails
on appeals at the Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court).
Maxim is entitled to a judgment of actual damages amounting to $165,857.10, prejudgment
interest from October 21, 2016, at a rate of eight percent through judgment, attorneys’ fees of
$10,000.00, court costs, and post-judgment interest as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1961. The court will
enter a separate final judgment concurrently with this order.
Signed at Houston, Texas on October 27, 2017.
Gray H. Miller
United States District Judge
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