I brief and argue civil appeals in the Texas Supreme Court, Texas intermediate appellate courts, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. I write friend-of-the-court (“amicus”) briefs for interested persons, organizations, and entities.
My real estate trial practice includes HOA law, fraud, construction disputes, and mortgage disputes. I never represent HOA's or banks, and I don't sue consumers. I do sometimes handle the collection of judgments for other attorneys because of my experience with turnover receiverships, but most of the judgment debtors are either companies or scammers.
My mortgage work includes Texas-only class actions and statewide multi-district litigation (MDL) against major lenders and servicers such as Nationstar Mortgage, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. Past cases have involved GMAC Mortgage and Wells Fargo. I am lead counsel and coordinating counsel in these cases.
TEXAS MORTGAGE LOAN MODIFICATION INFO
If you have a Texas mortgage loan that was "modified" to include interest-only payments or a balloon payment, click on this link. Pending class actions I have filed on behalf of Texas residents are against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase (Chase Home Finance), and Nationstar Mortgage. The Nationstar class action is part of a Texas statewide MDL proceeding involving consolidated cases from all over Texas. All the cases relate to "modifications" of Texas mortgage loans, including HAMP modifications.
HOT TOPIC OF 2015: SHORT-TERM RENTAL LITIGATION
TEXAS SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE TO HOMEOWNER WIN ON APPEAL IN ZGABAY V. RIVER CHASE PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION :
In this important case, the Texas Third Court of Appeals in Austin held on August 28, 2015, that the “residential use” requirement in most deed restrictions DOES NOT BAN SHORT-TERM RENTALS. The key reason why is that absent clear limitations on lease duration, the traditional rule of construing restrictive covenants to favor the free use of land controls. That is a vital rule for property owners subject to the whims of HOA boards. The case is Zgabay v. NBRC Property Owners Assoc., No. 03-14-00660 (Tex. App. — Austin August 28, 2015).
On October 27, 2015, the HOA filed a petition for review asking the Texas Supreme Court to take up the case and reverse the court of appeals. We filed our response on December 16, 2015, and the HOA’s reply was filed January 14, 2016.
Check back here for updates.
Loss for homeowner at the trial court level in TARR V. TIMBERWOOD PARK OWNERS ASSOCIATION (BEXAR COUNTY):
The HOA, which assumed the role of enforcer of the deed restrictions and fined Mr. Tarr for renting out his home for short terms, asserted that the deed restrictions ban short-term rentals. Mr. Tarr sued to block the enforcement action and the fines and asked the court to declare the meaning of the restrictive covenants. Despite the homeowner victory in Zgabay, reported above and involving similar facts, the County Court at Law in Bexar County granted summary judgment to the HOA in an order almost identical to that reversed by the Austin Court of Appeals. An appeal has been filed in the San Antonio Court of Appeals, but it is anticipated that it will be held in abeyance pending the outcome in Zgabay, discussed above.
I presently have multiple other essentially identical STR cases pending in trial courts in the appellate districts of Austin and San Antonio. They all boil down to whether bare “residential use only” wording, without more, bars short-term rentals. For whatever reason, HOA’s and those opposed to STR’s don’t accept the Zgabay decision and appear willing to continue refusing to amend deed restrictions and instead litigate their existing deed restrictions. As I have pointed out in briefs, if “residential use” wording has all along banned STR’s, then homeowners all over Texas have been violating the deed restrictions for decades without knowing it. I have great difficulty believing that the appellate courts will allow such a result when nothing in bare “residential use” wording gives fair notice that a duration limit applies to leasing.