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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Sometime before 2002, Leon and Sharon Denning deposited just over $3.4 million with Euro Bank Corporation in the Cayman Islands. Sometime thereafter, the government of the Cayman Islands froze the Dennings’ bank account based on the belief that certain accounts at Euro Bank contained proceeds of criminal conduct. The Dennings promptly hired the Walkers Law Firm in the Cayman Islands to represent them and their company, Behest Corporation, in their attempt to recover the frozen funds. Walkers filed a proof of debt which was rejected and initiated an appeal in June 2002. Walkers was then informed that criminal proceedings had been filed against the officers of Euro Bank, and that these proceedings could delay the return of the Dennings’ money by up to two years. While these proceedings were underway, the Dennings filed suit against John Mathewson, the president of Euro Bank, alleging fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. Believing the suit to be frivolous, Mathewson filed a motion to dismiss the suit and a motion for sanctions. During depositions, Mathewson’s lawyer, Oscar Gonzalez, proposed to the Dennings’ lawyer, John Muldoon, a settlement whereby the parties would drop their claims against each other, and Mathewson would use his “significant” contacts in the Cayman Islands to secure the release of the Dennings’ money. During the discovery process, Leon Denning pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was advised to make full restitution of back taxes, interest, and penalties in order to avoid incarceration. In order to make these payments, Denning needed access to his frozen funds. In an effort to expedite the return of this money, the Dennings and Muldoon entered into a “Consultation and Fee Agreement” with Gonzalez providing that he would “attempt to obtain whatever monies Leon and/or Sharon Denning are entitled to receive,” and that in exchange he would “receive Fourteen Percent (14%) of any monies recovered.” Gonzalez stated his opinion that recovery efforts would take roughly sixty days to complete. Following the execution of this agreement on Sept. 24, 2002, Gonzalez began writing letters to the Euro Bank receivers and various government officials in the Cayman Islands, only to be told that no disbursements would be made until legal proceedings were complete. While Gonzalez was engaged in these efforts, Walkers continued pursuing the proof of debt action on appeal. In early 2003, the criminal charges against the Euro Bank officials were unexpectedly dismissed. When it became apparent that their funds would be released by summer 2003, the Dennings wrote to Gonzalez on March 23, 2003, stating that “the deadline for our agreement has come and gone without the return of any funds.” The Dennings informed Gonzalez that if they did not receive the total funds deposited with Euro Bank by March 31, 2003, their agreement with Gonzalez would terminate. Gonzalez failed to obtain the funds by this date; however, the Dennings’ have since recovered their funds through the judicial process initiated by Walkers. Gonzalez filed his original petition in the 224th District Court of Bexar County alleging that he had fully performed his obligations under the contract and asserting a claim for damages against the Dennings and Muldoon for breach of contract and anticipatory breach of contract. The defendants removed the case to Federal District Court for the Western District of Texas. After denying Gonzalez’s motion for summary judgment, the court entered summary judgment in favor of the Dennings on grounds that 1. Gonzalez could not establish damages because he had failed to recover the Dennings’ money; and 2. Gonzalez failed to recover the Dennings’ money within a reasonable time. Gonzalez appeals. HOLDING:Affirmed. Gonzalez’s proffered interpretation of the agreement as a “best efforts” contract is incorrect. The words “best efforts” appear nowhere in the agreement, and the words “will attempt to obtain” are more indicative of a contingent fee arrangement than a contract requiring only the use of best efforts. In addition, the agreement set forth no standard or guideline by which Gonzalez’s performance was to be measured; rather, in the fashion of most contingent fee agreements, his compensation was tied directly to the amount of money he recovered. Because the language of the agreement unambiguously indicates that Gonzalez’s compensation was intended to be contingent upon his successful efforts to recover the Dennings’ monies, he cannot recover on his claim for anticipatory breach of contract. OPINION:Per curiam; Jolly, Higginbotham and Barksdale, JJ.

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