Dezso v. Harwood

In Dezso v. Harwood, 926 S.W.2d 371 (Tex. App.--Austin 1996, writ denied), the plaintiff, Paul Harwood, intended to sue Judi's Cupboard, Inc. and its owner. The business was owned by Elsie Dezso, but the petition identified the owner as Judi Dezso, and the citation was issued to "'Dezso, Judi Individually and DBA Judi's Cupboard DBA Judi's Card & Gift Shop & DBA Christian Symbols.'" Id. at 372-73. The citation and petition were served on Elsie Dezso and a no-answer default judgment was rendered against "'Judi Dezso, also known as Elsie Dezso, individually and doing business as Christian Symbols, Judi's Cupboard and Judi's Card and Gift Shop.'" Elsie Dezso appealed by writ of error and argued that the default judgment was improper because she was not named in the petition or citation. Id. at 373. In that case, the court essentially concluded that the record affirmatively demonstrated strict compliance with the rules governing service of process because Elsie Dezso--the defendant named in the default judgment--"did in fact receive service of process" and knew that she was the intended defendant: "Although the citation did not refer to Elsie Dezso by her correct name, her corporation and its business names were on the citation. Additionally, the original petition expressly pointed out all of Harwood's complaints regarding his dealings with Elsie Dezso, her son, and the related businesses. Based on the allegations in the petition, Elsie Dezso knew that her daughter-in-law, Judi Dezso, was not in any way involved in the business dealings that formed the basis of Harwood's lawsuit. The allegations also made clear that Elsie Dezso's businesses, Judi's Cupboard and Judi's Card and Gift Shop, were involved in the transactions that were the subject of Harwood's suit. Further, Elsie Dezso testified at a hearing on her motion to set aside the default judgment that "since the store's name is Judi, a lot of people will call me Judi because . . . they think it is my name." Based on these factors, Elsie Dezso should have logically concluded that Harwood intended to sue her and that he had simply misnamed her." Id. at 374. In short, the record in Dezso demonstrated that Elsie Dezso was served with process before the default judgment was rendered against her.