Texas Court of Appeals

In In re Troy S. Poe Trust, trustees of a trust that was embroiled in litigation filed suit to modify the trust to increase the number of trustees and change the method for trustees to vote on issues. No. 08-18-00074-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 7838 (Tex. App.—El Paso August 28, 2019, no pet.). After the trial court granted the modification, a party to the proceeding appealed and argued that the trial court erred in refusing him a jury trial on initial issues of fact.

The court of appeals first looked at a party’s general right to a jury trial in Texas:

 The Texas Constitution addresses the right to a jury trial in two distinct provisions. The first, found in the Bill of Rights, provides that the “right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.” But this provision has been held to “maintain a right to trial by jury for those actions, or analogous actions, tried by jury when the Constitution was adopted in 1876.” And Richard has not shown that trust modifications were tried to a jury in 1876 or before. The Texas Constitution also contains another provision governing jury trials in its judiciary article: “In the trial of all causes in the District Courts, the plaintiff or defendant shall, upon application made in open court, have the right of trial by jury; but no jury shall be empaneled in any civil case unless demanded by a party to the case, and a jury fee be paid by the party demanding a jury, for such sum, and with such exceptions as may be prescribed by the Legislature.” This section is broader than the Section 15 right to jury in the sense that it does not depend on court practice in 1876 or before. It is narrower in the sense that it only applies to “causes.” But the Texas Supreme Court views the term “causes” expansively, and that court has only restricted the right to jury trial in specific contexts where “some special reason” made jury trials unsuitable, such civil contempt proceedings, election contests, suits to remove a sheriff, and appeals in administrative proceedings. The Texas Constitution also gives the legislature authority to regulate jury trials to maintain their “purity and efficiency.” In that regard, we look to the statutory framework to determine whether parties possess a right to a jury trial.

Id. (internal citation omitted). The court then analyzed whether the Texas Property Code waived a party’s right to a jury trial regarding a claim to modify a trust:
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In Klinek v. Luxeyard, Inc., a company sued its majority shareholder in a suit for breach of fiduciary duty arising from a pump-and-dump scheme and later settled that claim. No. 14-17-00899-C, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9421 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] October 29, 2019, no pet. history). The company then sued a third party for

In Melton v. Waddell, a sister sued her brother for breach of fiduciary duty for misapplying funds in a joint account and not properly allocating revenues from real estate that they owned as tenants in common. No. 07-18-00105-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9531 (Tex. App.—Amarillo October 30, 2019, no pet. history). The brother filed

In In re Estate of Ethridge, a testatrix signed a will that provided that “all my personal effects” would be devised to her nephew in law and that her half interest in a home went to another person. No. 11-17-00291-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9564 (Tex. App.—Eastland October 31, 2019, no pet.). The trial

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In In re Alexander, a beneficiary filed suit against the trustee based on multiple allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, including an allegation that the trustee attempted to transfer the trustee position to successors in violation of the

In Austin v. Austin, after the decedent passed, his daughters probated an April 2016 will, and his wife then sought to probate a December 2016 will. No. 03-18-00678-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 8255 (Tex. App.—Austin September 12, 2019, no pet. history). The daughters alleged that the December 2016 will was a forgery. After an

In In re Topletz, the trial court ordered a party jailed for civil contempt for failing to comply with an order to produce documents from a family-run trust during post-judgment discovery in a suit against him individually where the party contended the documents were not within his possession, custody, or control. No. 05-19-00327-CV, 2019

In Hoffpauir v. Cormier, parties sought to modify the terms of a trust agreement under Texas Property Code section 112.054(a) to extend the trust’s term. No. 09-18-00358-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 8473 (Tex. App.—Beaumont August 21, 2019, no pet. history). After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the modification. A pro se beneficiary

In In the Estate of Sakima, the probate court appointed a decedent’s sister as his administrator in 2011. No. 05-18-01288-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 8209 (Tex. App.—Dallas September 10, 2019, no pet. history). After multiple show-cause notices, the probate court removed the administrator in 2018. The court held that an estate with a foreclosed home and a $30,000 bank account should not still be open after seven years. There was also a $8,000 check had not been negotiated, and the administrator filed incorrect accountings. The administrator appealed.

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