Dormady v. Dinero Land & Cattle Co – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Dormady v. Dinero Land & Cattle Co, 61 S.W.3d 555 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 2001, pet. dism'd w.o.j.), Alicia Dormady signed a deed of trust to secure a loan from Dinero Land & Cattle Company which Dormady used to purchase fifteen acres of land. 61 S.W.3d at 556.

The deed of trust provided that if the property was sold at foreclosure, Dormady would immediately surrender possession of the property to the purchaser, and if she failed to do so, she would become a tenant at sufferance. Id. at 556-57.

Dinero foreclosed on the property and was the winning bidder at the foreclosure sale. Id. at 557. Dinero filed a forcible detainer action and prevailed in the justice court. Id.

Dormady then filed a lawsuit in district court claiming that the foreclosure was wrongful and also appealed the judgment of the justice court to county court, "arguing that neither the justice court nor the county court had subject matter jurisdiction over the suit because the title and possession issues were so integrally related that the issue of possession could not be decided without first determining title." Id. The county court denied Dormady's motion to dismiss and entered judgment in favor of Dinero. Id.

On appeal to this court, Dormady presented one issue asserting the county court lacked subject matter jurisdiction based on her district court lawsuit challenging Dinero's title based on her wrongful foreclosure claim. Id. at 556.

The Court rejected Dormady's argument that the issues of title and possession were necessarily intertwined, noting Dinero established its right to immediate possession by showing:

(1) it was the owner of the property by virtue of the substitute trustee's deed resulting from the foreclosure;

(2) Dormady became a tenant at sufferance following the foreclosure;

(3) Dinero has the superior right to immediate possession. Id. at 558.

The Court held, "The landlord-tenant relationship provides a basis for determining the right to immediate possession without resolving the ultimate issue of title to the property." Id. at 559.

The Court concluded, "In short, Dormady has the right to sue in district court to determine whether the trustee's deed should be cancelled because of foreclosure irregularities, independent of the trial court's determination in the forcible detainer action that Dinero is entitled to immediate possession of the property." Id.