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Ford v. Exxon Mobil Chem. Co – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Ford v. Exxon Mobil Chem. Co., 235 S.W.3d 615 (Tex. 2007), ExxonMobil argued the judgment was interlocutory because it did not dispose of Ford's statutory claim for expert witness fees. Id. at 617.

ExxonMobil argued that the undisputed evidence established attorney's fees of $ 36,167 and expert fees of $ 1,500, and the applicable statute permitted ExxonMobil to recover both. Id.

Diamond T primarily relies on the following language in the opinion:

"We have never held that an order disposing of all claims can be final only if it itemizes each and every element of damages pleaded." Id.

In holding that the judgment was final, however, the court asserted "Ford moved for summary judgment on the entire case, and the trial court granted it as to all claims and all parties." Id.

In the Ford case, Ford sued Exxon seeking:

(1) cancellation of an easement amendment;

(2) removal of a pipeline;

(3) removal of an alleged cloud on title;

(4) the quieting of title. Exxon Mobil Chem. Co. v. Ford, 187 S.W.3d 154, 157 (Tex. App.--Beaumont 2006), rev'd in part, 235 S.W.3d 615 (Tex. 2007).

Ford also alleged Exxon committed statutory fraud. Id. The trial court's summary judgment ordered, adjudged, and decreed that:

(1) the easement amendment was annulled and cancelled;

(2) the cloud on title was removed and title was quieted in Ford;

(3) Exxon was required to remove the pipeline;

(4) Ford was awarded $ 36,167 for statutory fraud.

Exxon's complaint with regard to finality was that the $ 36,167 included only the attorney's fees it was entitled to recover in relation to the statutory fraud claim, but not the expert witness fees it also was entitled to recover in relation to that claim. Ford, 235 S.W.3d at 617.

Because the summary judgment disposed of the statutory fraud claim in awarding the $ 36,167, the Texas Supreme Court rejected the argument, noting the award in relation to the statutory fraud claim may have been incorrect, but it did not mean the trial court failed to dispose of the claim. Id.