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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Elizabeth Smith and Searcy Ferguson divorced in January 1987. Two months earlier, they had entered into an Agreement Incident to Divorce (AID). Under this agreement, Smith was awarded a valuable diamond ring that Ferguson gave her when the couple tried to reconcile prior to divorce. Disputes arose after the AID was signed, so the parties also entered into a settlement agreement in 1988 and another letter agreement in 1989. Under the 1989 agreement, Ferguson agreed not to “reopen” the divorce case or the AID. In 1994, Ferguson sued Smith for conversion of the diamond ring. He alleged that at the time the parties were attempting to reconcile, Smith had broken into Ferguson’s office and stolen valuable confidential business and banking records and then engaged in a coverup of the break-in. Ferguson asserted Smith fraudulently induced him to give her the ring, because he would not have given it to her if he had known about her participation in the break-in, which he first learned about in 1993. Ferguson later added various claims that Smith breached the AID. He alleged Smith blocked his transfer of community-owned stocks, failed to assume the obligation for a lien on property in Southampton awarded to her and failed to file a proper income tax return for 1986. In January 1995, Smith filed a counterclaim for payment of back ad valorem property taxes on a piece of Dallas property that had been awarded to her. She said Ferguson agreed to pay those taxes in the 1988 agreement. Also in 1995, various taxing authorities had brought an in rem action for payment of the property taxes from 1970 to 1978. The trial court entered summary judgment against Ferguson on his claims. Then, after a bench trial, the trial court denied Smith’s claims in 1999. The taxing authorities’ in rem proceeding was still pending at the time. Ferguson and Smith filed appeals. While the appeals were pending, Ferguson filed for bankruptcy, so the appeals were abated for three years. As part of the cases’ reinstatement, Ferguson entered into a contractual obligation. He agreed to pay the back taxes on the Dallas property and secure all releases and discharges. The obligation contained an indemnity provision, which Smith refers to on appeal as well. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court first determines that no issue under the indemnity provision exists, because the tax cases is still pending and the claim is premature. The court then turns to Ferguson’s contractual obligation to pay the back taxes and secure a discharge. Ferguson says the claim is barred by limitations, but Smith claims Civil Practice & Remedies Code 16.069 revived her claim, because it arose out of the same transaction or occurrence as Smith’s action. Smith’s claim is based on a provision of the 1988 agreement concerning payment of taxes on the Dallas property, but Ferguson did not allege any action related to that issue. The facts of Smith’s claim are not significantly or logically related to Ferguson’s claims. Therefore, Smith’s claims were properly denied. The court then reviews the summary judgment against Ferguson. The court agrees that Ferguson’s claims were effectively “released” by the 1989 agreement not to “reopen” the AID. In the AID, the parties agreed to release additional claims including intentional torts relating to income or earnings. Coupled with the release language in the AID, Ferguson’s agreement not to reopen the AID encompassed his fraud claim. The court rejects Ferguson’s attempt to characterize his conversion claim as a breach-of-contract claim. “Ferguson’s”failure to disclose’ [the material facts related to the break-in] claim is based on the same allegedly deceitful acts by Smith that Ferguson alleges are fraudulent. This purported contract claim merely restates a category of fraud. . . . Ferguson’s claim alleging Smith’s failure to disclose the material fact of her fraud is barred by Ferguson’s agreement to release the fraud claim.” The contract claims that were not barred by Ferguson’s agreement not to reopen the AID are nonetheless barred by limitations, the court rules. Ferguson’s cause of action for Smith’s alleged breach, by blocking a timely stock sale, would have accrued during 1988, more than four years before Ferguson filed suit, the court finds, so the claim is barred by the four-year statute of limitations for breach-of-contract claims. Additionally, Ferguson was apparently aware of Smith’s failure to pay the lien on the Southampton property in 1987, so this claim was also barred by limitations. OPINION:David L. Bridges, J.;, Bridges, Francis and Lang-Miers, JJ.

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