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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1956, William Mandell purchased a 15 percent interest in 240 acres in northwest Houston. In 1966, William purchased the remaining 85 percent interest in the property and gave a 50 percent interest to Sam Field, who had lent William the purchase money. In the intervening years, William married Rene Deutser. David Mandell is William and Rene’s only child. On Aug. 4, 1972, William shot and killed Rene. A court subsequently convicted William of murder without malice, and he served two years of a two-to-five year sentence. While his father was incarcerated, David lived with his aunt and uncle Jeanne and Milton Mandell. A court appointed Milton guardian of David’s estate. In 1987, when David reached the age of majority, Milton, acting in his capacity as guardian, conveyed a 17.5 percent interest in the 240 acres to David. The 17.5 percent interest represented David’s mother’s community interest in the 35 percent interest William acquired after the marriage. After Field’s death, his interest in the property passed to the estate of Sam Field (the estate). In 1995, David sued William, Jeanne and Milton Mandell, and the estate for alleged mismanagement of his mother’s estate. David hired the firm of Spencer & Associates (Spencer) to represent him. He and the firm entered into a contingency fee contract in which he agreed to give Spencer 50 percent of his recovery in the suit. On March 27, 1998, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. As part of the settlement, David received an additional 7.5 percent interest in the property, which increased his total interest to 25 percent. They also agreed to a preferential purchase right. Specifically, the parties agreed that, “David Mandell and all other owners of the 240 Acre Tract reserve the first right to purchase from the remaining owners the share of that owner at the price offered by any subsequent purchaser.” On Nov. 5, 1998, David executed a general warranty deed transferring 3.75 percent of the property to Spencer. In a later deposition, David admitted he did not inform William or the estate about the transaction at that time. On July 19, 1999, Spencer sent a letter to William and the estate advising that: “As part of the fee agreement for our attorney’s fees in the representation of [David], Mr. David Mandell will grant to the firm a portion of his ownership interest in the 240 acre tract of land[.]” On July 30, 1999, William and the estate wrote a letter rejecting David’s attempt to convey the property as part of a fee agreement. The letter stated that William and the estate considered the conveyance a breach of the settlement agreement. On Aug. 5, 1999, in a letter sent to William but not the estate, Spencer informed William that the deed had already been executed. On Nov. 18, 1999, David sent a letter to the estate stating he did not intend to convey any of his ownership interest, but he intended to maintain his 25 percent interest in the property. More than three years later, on Jan. 31, 2003, the estate accepted William’s offer to purchase its 50 percent interest in the property. On Feb. 3, 2003, Spencer recorded the general warranty deed that conveyed an interest in the property to him. On March 7, 2003, the estate sold its interest to William for approximately $10,000 per acre. David subsequently filed this suit alleging that the estate had breached the settlement agreement by not permitting him an opportunity to purchase the estate’s interest. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment alleging that the other party had breached the agreement as a matter of law. The trial court granted the estate’s motion, and entered a partial summary judgment on Jan. 6, 2006. The court later entered final judgment in favor of the estate, including attorneys’ fees. HOLDING:Affirmed. David breached the agreement in 1998, while the estate breached the agreement in 2003, the court noted. When one party to a contract commits a material breach of that contract, the other party is discharged or excused from further performance, the court stated. Therefore, the court held that David’s prior breach excused the estate’s breach. Furthermore, the court stated, a party who breached a contract cannot then maintain a suit for the subsequent breach by another party. Because David breached the settlement agreement by conveying the property to his attorney, he cannot maintain a suit against the estate for breach of the same provision, the court found. The trial court correctly granted the estate’s motion for summary judgment and correctly denied David’s competing motion, the court held. OPINION:Hedges, C.J.; Hedges, C.J., and Fowler and Edelman, J.J.

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