This past Friday, the Third Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a post-divorce fraud case which sets forth a nice statement of the law on collateral attacks in Texas. In 1993, a Timothy Chambers and his father created a Texas partnership to develop a piece of real estate. They hired attorneys to draft the paperwork, which established that Mr. Chambers’ interest was to be his separate property, a gift from his parents.
In 1997, Mr. Chambers and his wife divorced, and during the divorce, the wife argued that Mr. Chambers “had attempted to defraud [wife] out of her share of community property by fraudulently recharacterizing community property as his separate property.” Nonetheless, a property settlement was reached, and the Final Decree of Divorce awarded Mr. Chambers all of the interest in the partnership.
In 2001, however, Mr. Chambers’ ex-wife subsequently sued Mr. Chambers’ father and the law firm that did the partnership work for fraud. Judge Meurer granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the basis that the ex-wife’s claims were an impermissible collateral attack on the divorce judgment, and the Third Court of Appeals affirmed. The opinion explains in detail the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic fraud in collateral attack analysis.
Henderson v. Chambers, et al., Cause No. 03-04-00599-CV
The Court also issued a lengthy opinion in a workers’ comp case involving a dispute about which of two companies employed two workers injured in a trucking accident. One of the companies owned the truck, and the other owned the DOT license. They jointly operated the truck under a written lease agreement.
Texas Prop. & Cas. Guar. Assoc. v. National Amer. Ins. Co., Cause No. 03-05-00401-CV