Yet another summary judgment gone wrong.

Sundance Resources, Inc. v. Ole Brook Energy Services, Inc. reminds me of my sixth grade math teacher; she used to deduct points from tests when students failed to show their work.  In this case, the attorneys concluded they were entitled to summary judgment  but they didn’t show their work.  They got away with it in the trial court, but weren’t so lucky under the 7th Court of Appeals’ scrutiny.  

Ole Brook  contracted to perform well services for a group of entities.  When it was not paid for its services, Ole Brook sued the owner of the land, Sundance, even though its name was not in any of the contracts.  Old Brook alleged breach of contract, sworn account, lien foreclosure, and recovery of attorney’s fees. 

Shortly after filing suit, Ole Brook moved for summary judgment.  Its motion, however, did not state the basis on which Ole Brook was entitled to summary judgment.  Also, Ole Brook didn’t identify the elements of any of its claims.  Instead, the motion merely alleged a contract with Sundance and that the contract obligated Sundance to satisfy the unpaid balance.  Assuming Ole Brook intended this language to mean its breach-of-contract claim, it did not address each element of that claim.

Sundance, unable to determine what exactly Ole Brook was moving for, filed special exceptions to the motion, which the trial court denied.  The trial court then ruled in Ole Brook’s favor.  On appeal, however, the Amarillo Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment holding the trial court abused its discretion for failing to sustain the special exception.

Plain and simple, the attorneys didn’t show their work, and lost on appeal.  The lesson: Don’t be too casual in filing your summary-judgment motion. 

 The opinion is here.