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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The Patrick W.Y. Tam Trust owns a shopping center in Collin County. In November 2002, the trust entered into a five-year lease agreement with Independent Quality Wholesale Inc., doing business as Plano Pets & Grooming. Lauri Smith and Howard Smith each signed a guaranty of the lease. When Plano Pets stopped making payments, the trust sued Plano Pets and the Smiths. The trust later filed a motion to nonsuit Plano Pets after the company filed bankruptcy. The Smiths filed counterclaims, alleging that the trust breached its lease agreement, interfered with their right to quiet enjoyment and tortiously interfered with their business. The trust filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground the Smiths were guarantors and, as such, lacked standing to assert these claims. The trial judge agreed and granted partial summary judgment in favor of the trust. The case proceeded to trial. During a pretrial hearing on the morning of trial, the Smiths orally argued the trust had not sued them as guarantors. The trial judge agreed but noted “everybody” had known throughout the course of the suit that the trust’s suit was on the Smiths’ guaranties. He therefore granted the trust’s request for leave of court to file a trial amendment. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found the Smiths individually liable as guarantors and awarded the Trust $65,000 in damages but did not award the trust attorneys’ fees. The Smiths filed a motion for new trial, alleging that legally insufficient evidence supported the damages award and the jury’s finding that the Smiths were individually liable. The trust then filed a motion to enter judgment on the jury’s answers regarding liability and damages and to disregard the jury’s answer on attorneys’ fees. The trial judge entered judgment in favor of the trust, awarded $65,000 in damages and $7,500 in attorneys’ fees. The Smiths appealed and the trust cross-appealed. HOLDING:Vacated and rendered in part, affirmed in part. First, the Smiths argued that legally insufficient evidence supported the trust’s claim that Lauri and Howard were individual guarantors on the lease. Under this issue, the Smiths contended that the evidence established the Smiths did not sign in their individual capacities because: 1. the guaranty indicated it was a “corporate guaranty;” 2. the trust looked solely to the business for financial security; and 3. the signature line on the guaranty had spaces for a signing party’s title; and 4. the Smiths signed in their corporate capacities. When a party attacks the legal sufficiency of an adverse finding on an issue it did not have the burden to prove at trial, the court stated that it must demonstrate that no evidence supported the adverse finding. Thus, the court found that the Smiths had the burden to demonstrate that no evidence supported findings that they individually guaranteed the lease. At trial, James N. Greenfield, a director for the property management company employed by the trust, explained he believed the guaranties to be personal because the Smiths each signed their names. If the Smiths had been signing in their corporate capacity, Greenfield explained, the name of the guarantor would be the corporation, followed by each individual’s signature, name and title. Greenfield further testified that when a corporation signs a lease, it is normal to ask for an individual to guarantee the lease. Greenfield’s company, he stated, would not ask for a corporation to guarantee the lease when the same corporation was the lessee. The evidence, the court stated, showed the Smiths signed the documents using their names and not the name of the corporation. Although Lauri wrote her title below her name, Howard did not. The guaranty language included a conditional paragraph setting forth additional obligations that would arise only if the guarantor were a corporation. Thus, the court found more than a scintilla of evidence that the Smiths were individual guarantors. The court also noted that to conclude the Smiths signed the guaranties in their corporate capacity would render the guaranty meaningless. As for the Smiths’ complaint regarding the trust’s trial amendment, the court found that the record showed that: the judge stated there was no surprise to any party regarding the basis for the Trust’s suit; the Smiths admitted there was no surprise; and the Smiths did not argue or put on evidence that the amendment was prejudicial. In light of this, the court could not conclude that the trial judge erred in allowing the amendment. The court, however, agreed with the trust’s contention that the trial judge abused his discretion in awarding $7,500 in attorneys’ fees. The court found that the judge ignored unchallenged evidence and substituted an arbitrary amount in making the award. The court vacated the portion of the judgment awarding the trust attorneys’ fees of $7,500 and rendered judgment that the trust take $47,438.75 in attorneys’ fees. OPINION:Whittington, J.; Whittington, Bridges and Francis, JJ.

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