In Delgado v. Garza, the plaintiffs sued for breach of a warranty of title, trespass to try title, and other related claims all stemming from a land transaction between an ancestor of the Salinases and an ancestor of the Garzas. No. 13-15-00344-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 9619 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi November 27, 2018, no pet. history). After a bench trial, the court signed a judgment in favor of the Garzas on all causes of action. On appeal, the Salinases challenged the validity of the judgment entered against three individuals who were sued but died prior to trial. The court of appeals explained:
It is well-settled that the estate of a decedent is not a legal entity and may not sue or be sued as such. A suit seeking to establish the decedent’s liability on a claim and subject property of the estate to its payment should ordinarily be instituted against the personal representative or, under appropriate circumstances, against the heirs or beneficiaries. However, when the suit is not instituted against the personal representative, heirs, or beneficiaries of the deceased defendant, a judgment involving “the estate” may validly bind the personal representative of the estate if he appears and participates in the case in his official capacity as personal representative of the estate.
Id. In this case, the suit was not instituted against the personal representative, heirs, or beneficiaries of any of the three deceased defendants. So, the court of appeals had to determine whether any personal representative of any of the three estates actively appeared and participated in the case. The court concluded that the estate representatives did not adequately participate in the case to have the judgment bind them:
We find no authority for the proposition that legal representation, without more, or continuation of the trial, by default, satisfies the personal representative requirement.… On November 6, 2013, Schell filed a suggestion of death for Saenz, Hernandez, and Perez. The suggestion of death requested that a personal representative appear and defend the suit for their estates. It did not serve as Schell’s appearance as personal representative for these estates. Moreover, as discussed below, we find no record support for the conclusion that Schell appeared and actively participated in the capacity of the estates’ personal representative…. The confusing record before us simply does not support the conclusion that Schell participated sufficiently in this case as the purported representative of the estates of Saenz, Hernandez, or Perez to make the judgment binding against him in that capacity.
Id. Accordingly, the court held that the judgment was not effective as against the estates because the record simply showed that the decedents’ attorney participated in the suit and not the attorney for the estates’ representatives.