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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1995, William Ross met John Green. The two men began a romantic relationship and eventually Ross moved into Green’s home. Ross, a hairdresser, soon began to rely solely on income paid to Green. However, Ross contended that he and Green both worked together at a consignment shop to earn money, and that it was shared money, even though paid only to Green. Ross testified that when he moved into Green’s home, Green had little in the way of furnishings or decorations. However, during their relationship, the two accumulated furnishings and various items. Also, Ross sold his personal vehicle and the two used those proceeds, in addition to money earned from the consignment shop, to purchase a 1998 Ford Mustang. Although the Mustang title was originally in Green’s name, he authorized Ross to transfer title to Ross’ name as a Christmas present. Otherwise, all bills were paid and items purchased from Green’s separate bank account. On Dec. 10, 2002, Green was admitted to a facility because he had “misused prescription drugs . . . [and was] making off-the-wall decisions.” Green had also been diagnosed previously as bipolar and suffering from chemical dependency. When he was admitted, he asked one of the admitting nurses, who was also a notary, to witness and notarize a quitclaim deed for property Green owned in Katy. The quitclaim deed purported to transfer ownership of the property, with a taxable value of approximately $60,000, to Ross. However, Green allegedly told Ross not to file the deed unless Green died. On Dec. 16, Green was released from the hospital. Green subsequently died Jan. 11, 2003. Following Green’s death, Ross filed the quitclaim deed, and continued to sign checks with Green’s name and utilize Green’s charge accounts. He then called Green’s estranged son, Scott Goldstein. Goldstein, who lives in Florida, flew to Texas and began to evaluate his father’s estate. He told Ross that Ross could remain in the dwelling while he wound up the estate, though Ross evidently did not accept this offer. Goldstein was appointed independent administrator of his father’s estate. Following what Ross described Green’s wishes to be, Goldstein arranged and paid for a memorial service, and Green’s cremation and sprinkling of ashes over Biscayne Bay. He then began to marshal the assets of the estate. Goldstein as independent administrator sued Ross to retrieve various items such as furniture and paintings acquired with Green’s money but allegedly held by Ross. Ross counterclaimed, alleging that he and Green had a marriage-like relationship, had embarked on a joint venture in the consignment business, and thus had acquired the sought-after assets together and owned them jointly. Ross counterclaimed raising five causes of action: 1. conversion; 2. request for declaratory judgment that the assets were jointly acquired; 3. breach of fiduciary duty; 4. request for a constructive trust; and 5. request that the trial court adopt a novel equitable remedy, the “marriage-like relationship” doctrine. Goldstein responded with three special exceptions to the claims of fiduciary duty, constructive trust, and equitable remedy. The trial court granted all three special exceptions and allowed Ross the opportunity to replead. Ross refused to replead, deciding to stand on his pleadings. The trial court then dismissed the entire counterclaim, held a trial on plaintiff’s claims and awarded Ross some property, though not all to which he believed himself entitled. Ross appeals the trial court’s rulings on the special exceptions, its decision to strike the entire pleading even though not entirely specially excepted to, and urges this court to adopt the “marriage-like relationship” doctrine. HOLDING:Affirmed in part, and reversed and remanded in part. The court found the trial court erred in dismissing two of the five causes of action. Without the excepted portions, Ross’ counterclaim stated two causes of action that had not been excepted or challenged through some other procedural vehicle. Whether the claims were meritorious or not, the trial court was not presented with any procedural vehicle with which to strike those causes of action. The court held that the trial court could not dismiss the declaratory judgment and conversion causes of action on its own motion. The court upheld the special exceptions for the breach of fiduciary and the request for a constructive trust. The court found that Ross failed to plead necessary facts to support these causes of action, such as facts giving rise to any sort of relationship between Goldstein and Ross or facts supporting the allegations of fraud necessary to receive the remedy of constructive trust. The court declined to adopt the equitable doctrine of a “marriage-like relationship” urged by Ross. The court found it violated the public policy of Texas. The court cited Article 1, �32 of the Texas Constitution, which states that marriage is between one man and one woman only and no state or political subdivision of the state of Texas may create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage. The court also cited Texas Family Code �6.204, which states that it is contrary to the state’s public policy to recognize or give effect to a same-sex marriage or civil union. “Our State’s public policy is unambiguous, clear, and controlling on the question of creating a new equitable remedy akin to marriage: we may not create such a remedy.” The court affirmed the trial court’s grant of a special exception as to the request for the equitable remedy. OPINION:Fowler, J.; Hudson, Fowler, and Seymore, J.J.
 
 

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