Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
No. 05-02-00363-CV, 7/9/2003. Civil Litigation Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: In May 1998, James and Patricia Vincent borrowed $130,400 from Bank of America and signed a Federal Truth in Lending Disclosure & Loan Agreement. This home equity loan was secured by the Vincents’ homestead and is governed by the Texas Constitution, article XVI, �50(a)(6). After a dispute arose regarding how payments were being allocated between principal and interest, the Vincents filed suit against the Bank seeking, among other things, certification as a class action and forfeiture of all principal and interest on the loan. After a hearing, the trial court denied class certification, and the case proceeded to trial before the court on Dec. 18, 2001. Final judgment was entered in the Vincents’ favor on Feb. 14, 2002, granting them injunctive and declaratory relief, but refusing to grant a requested declaration of forfeiture of all principal and interest due under the loan documents. Requested findings of fact and conclusions of law were filed by the trial court. The Vincents and the bank appeal the trial court’s judgment. HOLDING: Affirmed as modified. In the final judgment entered by the trial court, an injunction was issued in the Vincents’ favor. The bank asserts, in part, the trial court erred in granting the injunction because it is not supported by the pleadings. The Vincents’ third amended petition sought injunctive relief relating to the validity of the lien on their homestead in the event the trial court ordered forfeiture of all principal and interest. The trial court granted the Vincents an injunction ordering the bank to use the scheduled installment earnings method, i.e., a fixed amortization schedule, to account for all future, monthly payments made by plaintiffs under the loan agreement. The pleadings in this case do not support the injunction. The court modifies the trial court’s judgment by vacating that portion thereof granting injunctive relief. The Vincents assert the trial court erred in refusing to certify this case as a class action. Trial courts enjoy a wide range of discretion in deciding whether to maintain a suit as a class action. Vinson v. Tex. Commerce Bank-Houston N.A., 880 S.W.2d 820 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1994, no writ). A trial court abuses its discretion when it: 1. acts arbitrarily or unreasonably; 2. does not properly apply the law to the undisputed facts; or 3. rules on factual assertions not supported by the record. “Although it may not be an abuse of discretion to certify a class that could later fail, . . . a cautious approach to class certification is essential.” Southwestern Ref. Co. Inc. v. Bernal, 22 S.W.3d 425 (Tex. 2000). The trial court may certify a class action if a plaintiff satisfies the prerequisites of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 42. Texas law, however, does not require a trial court to certify a class action even if the facts sufficiently satisfy rule 42. That is, even if certification would have been proper, a denial might still not be an abuse of discretion. Because the matter is committed to the trial court’s discretion, the court upholds the denial of a class certification so long as the court acted rationally in the exercise of its discretion. This court may reverse a trial court for abuse of discretion only if, after searching the record, it is clear that the trial court’s decision was arbitrary and unreasonable. Simon v. York Crane & Rigging Co., 739 S.W.2d 793 (Tex. 1987). But the trial court’s exercise of discretion cannot be supported by every presumption that can be made in its favor. Actual, not presumed, conformance with rule 42 is required. The court does not view the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court’s decision in either granting or denying certification, nor will it entertain every presumption in favor of the trial court’s decision. The court determines whether a trial court, before ruling on a class certification, has performed a “rigorous analysis” on whether all prerequisites to certification have been met. As this court noted in Vinson, an appellant seeking to reverse an order denying class certification faces a formidable task. The Vincents must demonstrate that they satisfied all the rule 42 requirements for certification. They must also show that the trial court’s refusal to certify was legally unreasonable under the facts and circumstances of the case. In their third amended petition, the Vincents sought forfeiture of all principal and interest on behalf of all members of the purported class. In the order denying class certification, the trial court concluded that “notice by individual class members and an opportunity to cure by the bank are not suitable for class treatment.” The bank argues that the opportunity to cure provided by the above provision is a substantive right which would be abridged by class certification. Because the Vincents have failed to demonstrate they suffered any compensable damages as a result of the bank’s actions and because of the importance of the notice and right to cure provision in the constitution, the court concludes the Vincents have failed to demonstrate that the trial court’s refusal to certify was legally unreasonable. OPINION: Lagarde, J.; Moseley, O’Neill and Lagarde, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.