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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Susan and Burt Ginsburg married in 1981. Burt was a doctor; Susan worked for a public relations firm called Chernoff/Silver & Associates. Susan eventually started her own PR company, Global Communications Works, which continued to do business with Chernoff for certain services. Susan filed a petition for divorce in November 2000. In December, Global paid Chernoff $757,000 for work Chernoff didn’t perform. Susan admitted that she was trying to hide the money. Chernoff paid the $757,000 back to Global, and Susan dismissed her divorce action in April 2001. Burt filed for divorce in August 2001, and Susan filed a counterpetition in December of that year. In the interim, Global again paid a large sum, $149,799 to Chernoff. Once Chernoff determined that Global did not owe these monies, Chernoff paid the sum to its attorney to hold until the Ginsburgs’ marriage was terminated. Global made another payment of $57,425 to Chernoff for anticipated work in March 2002. Chernoff returned the money to Global the next month. Burt filed a second amended petition in April 2002, in which he added Global and Chernoff as additional parties, alleging claims of conversion, conspiracy to convert, fraud and conspiracy to defraud the community estate. Burt claimed that Susan and/or Global transferred large sums of community money to Chernoff in order to hide it from Burt. He sought actual and exemplary damages. In July 2002, the Ginsburgs reached a mediated settlement, which included payment of the $149,799 held by Chernoff’s attorney to Burt. Without recognizing the validity of Burt’s claims against Chernoff, Susan nonetheless assigned whatever interest she might have in them to Burt, and those claims were to be severed in order for the divorce to be final. After the divorce, Chernoff filed for summary judgment, on traditional and no-evidence grounds. In response, Burt filed a third amended petition alleging unjust enrichment and breach of contract. The trial court granted Chernoff’s summary judgment motion, and its motion to strike Burt’s third amended petition. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court goes over the case of Cohrs v. Scott, 338 S.W.2d 127 (Tex. 1960), relied on by Chernoff. The court explains that in Cohrs, a wife sued her husband for divorce and asserted third-party claims against Cohrs for participating in the husband’s allegedly fraudulent use of community funds to purchase two cars for her husband and his paramour. The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of the wife’s claims against Cohrs because the wife was unable to prove an injury to herself or to the community estate. The court said the wife’s remedy lay with her husband and the division of community property to reflect his actions. Burt contends that Cohrs does not apply because: “1. the holding in Cohrs was limited to the specific facts presented in that case; 2. under the terms of the settlement agreement here, he retained the right to pursue his claims against Chernoff; and 3. public policy favors settlement of disputes.” The court rejects these distinctions, primarily because the facts in this case are “closely similar” to the facts in Cohrs. Furthermore, the court addresses Burt’s contention that not recognizing his third-party claims would discourage the amicable settlement of divorce proceedings by emphasizing that its holding is limited to the specific facts presented here. “The rationale and the holding expressed by the Texas Supreme Court in Cohrs are applicable to the facts presented here. Thus, we hold that, as a result of the settlement agreement dividing the marital estate, [Burt] could not present evidence sufficient to raise a material fact issue concerning the element of damages as to his claims against Chernoff for conversion, conspiracy to convert, fraud, and conspiracy to defraud.” The court upholds the striking of Burt’s third amended pleading, noting that he added new claims that were not previously alleged. OPINION:Jennings, J.; Nuchia, Jennings and Keyes, JJ.

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