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My Austin-based practice focuses on real estate litigation and civil appeals.

The real estate issues include HOA law, fraud, construction disputes, and mortgage issues. I don't represent HOA's or banks, and I don't sue ordinary consumers.

My mortgage work includes Texas-only class actions and statewide multi-district litigation 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 regularly brief and argue appeals in civil cases in the Texas Supreme Court, Texas intermediate appellate courts, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. I also write friend-of-the-court (“amicus”) briefs for interested persons, organizations, and entities.

CASE UPDATES

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 cases relate to "modifications" of Texas mortgage loans, including HAMP modifications.

PENDING SHORT-TERM RENTAL LITIGATION

WEIGAND ET AL. V. LITKEY ET AL. SHORT TERM RENTAL LITIGATION (TRAVIS COUNTY):

This is a neighbor-on-neighbor deed restriction suit where one owner sent a cease-and-desist letter to a neighbor demanding a halt to short-term rentals. The complaining neighbor also asserted nuisance and maximum-lease-occupancy claims. My clients, who rent their house out for short terms, have sought summary judgment seeking to validate their short-term rental rights and establish the number of bedrooms for purposes of the lease-occupancy statute, Tex. Prop. Code § 92.010 (3 adults per bedroom). On March 9, 2015, the court granted summary judgment to my clients, declaring that their rental property contains five bedrooms. Further information concerning the outcome of my clients’ motion for summary judgment on the issue of short-term rentals will be posted here.


TARR V. TIMBERWOOD PARK OWNERS ASSOCIATION
SHORT TERM RENTAL BAN LITIGATION (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. Mr. Tarr's motion requesting a win on the merits of the case, as well as the HOA's new request that all its homeowners be sued, are located
HERE. A decision on the cross-motions for summary judgment is anticipated in mid-May, 2015.

DOWNEY V. BRIDLEWOOD RANCHES OWNERS ASSOCIATION SHORT TERM RENTAL BAN LITIGATION (HAYS COUNTY):

The HOA, enforcer of the deed restrictions, threatened suit against Mr. Downey for renting out his home for short terms, asserting that the deed restrictions ban short-term rentals. Downey sued to block the enforcement action and asked the court to declare the meaning of the restrictive covenants. Mr. Downey's motion requesting a win on the merits of the case, as well as the HOA's new request that all its homeowners be sued, are located
HERE. The motions are likely to be heard in early or mid May, 2015.


APPEAL IN ZGABAY V. RIVER CHASE PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION SHORT TERM RENTAL BAN LITIGATION (TEXAS THIRD COURT OF APPEALS - AUSTIN):

This is an important appeal that promises to have implications state-wide. It involves bare-bones deed restrictions that expressly allow leasing and have only a “residential use” requirement. Zgabay has a second home in Comal County, near New Braunfels. He sometimes rents it out for short terms. The River Chase HOA said that STR’s are not a “residential use.” On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court in Comal County said that “residential use” requires some undefined minimum period of occupancy, without providing guidance what minimum number of days that means. Zgabay appealed on the basis that the deed restrictions plainly do not require any period of owner-occupancy, or ban leasing, or otherwise require anyone, owner or tenant, to reside at the premises for any minimum duration. Indeed, the declarations do regulate duration for some uses, but pointedly do not regulate the duration of leasing. I presented oral argument to the Texas Third Court of Appeals (Austin) in this case on March 25, 2015. This was a lively oral argument, and the Court had lots of questions for both sides.

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