Cleantech filed a suit on sworn account on July 10, 2007, against Eugene Owens. On August 13, 2007, Mr. Owens handwrote and signed a letter to the court that stated "Please be advised I am employing an attorney for case number 07-1267-336." Mr. Owens included his address on the letter, but he did not include a verfied affidavit as Tex. R. Civ. P. 93(10) requires. Cleantech moved for a no-answer default judgment, which the court granted.
Did the handwritten and signed letter without the verified affidavit constitute an answer sufficient to defeat the no-answer default judgment?
According to the Dallas Court of Appeals, yes.
In Owens v. Sumola Investments, Inc., the court held that the letter was defective, but still constituted an answer sufficient to preclude a no-answer default judgment. The Court did note that such a letter (without the verified affidavit) is ripe for summary judgment because it is prima facie evidence of a debt. Nevertheless, Texas law indicates that "a letter from a pro se defendant to the district clerk that confirms receipt of the citation and provides the defendant’s current address is sufficient to constitute an answer." A copy of the court’s opinion can be found at this link.