law-SoL | statute of limitations time-barred suits | summary judgment based on limitations | date of
accrual of claim starts running of limitations period | discovery rule and fraudulent concealment
WHEN IS A CLAIM TIME-BARRED?
STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS IN TEXAS
Texas law prescribes a four-year statute of limitations for fraud actions, including claims for fraudulent
concealment. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.004(a) (Vernon 2002); Williams v. Khalaf,
802 S.W.2d 651, 658 (Tex. 1990); Teco-Westinghouse Motor Co. v. Gonzalez, 54 S.W.3d 910, 912
n.2 (Tex. App.- Corpus Christi 2001, no pet.). A cause of action for fraud accrues on the date that
the defendant makes the allegedly false representations. Woods v. William M. Mercer, Inc., 769
S.W.2d 515, 517 (Tex. 1988); Hoover v. Gregory, 835 S.W.2d 668, 676 (Tex. App.- Dallas 1992, writ
Seureau v. Exxon Mobil Corp (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 16, 2008)(Brown)
Appellants' fraud claims arise from promises that ExxonMobil is alleged to have made when the Letter
Agreement was executed on April 12, 1966. Thus, the Seureaus' cause of action for fraudulent
inducement accrued no later than April 12, 1966, the date that the allegedly false representations
were made. Unless saved by the discovery rule or the doctrine of fraudulent concealment, appellants'
fraud claims are time-barred as they were not first asserted until August 2002, well more than four
years after they accrued.
Breach of Contract
Suit on a breach-of-contract claim generally must be filed within four years from the date the cause of
action accrues. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.051 (Vernon 2008).
The statute of limitations for breach-of-contract actions is four years from the date of accrual. See
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §16.051 (Vernon 2008); Stine v. Stewart, 80 S.W.3d 586, 592 (Tex.
2002). It is well-settled that an action for breach of contract accrues immediately upon breach.
Barker v. Eckman, 213 S.W.3d 306, 311 (Tex. 2006); Stine, 80 S.W.3d at 592. A breach of contract
occurs when a party fails or refuses to do something he has promised to do. Mays v. Pierce, 203
S.W.3d 564, 575 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2006, pet. denied); Townewest Homeowners Ass'n,
Inc. v. Warner Commc'n Inc., 826 S.W.2d 638, 640 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 1992, no
writ).Seureau v. Exxon Mobil Corp (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 16, 2008)(Brown)
Statute of limitations on lien foreclosure: A suit for the recovery of real property under a real
property lien or the foreclosure of real property must be brought no later than four years after the
cause of action accrues. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.035(a) (Vernon 2002).
Neal v. Garcia-Horrerios (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist] May 8, 2008)(Jennings)
(negligence, due diligence in serving defendant, statute of limitations)
AFFIRM TC JUDGMENT: Opinion by Justice Jennings
Before Chief Justice Radack, Justices Jennings and Bland
01-07-01103-CV Candace Neal v. George Garcia-Horrerios
Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No 3 of Harris County
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Linda Storey
SOL FOR BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY
4-year statute of limitations applies. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.004(a)(5)
(Vernon 2002) (requiring that suit for breach of fiduciary duty be brought no later than four
years after the day the cause of action accrues).
Statute of limitations serve to compel the assertion of claims within a reasonable period
during which the evidence is fresh in the minds of the parties and witnesses. Price v. Estate
of Anderson, 522 S.W.2d 690, 692 (Tex. 1975). The discovery rule defers accrual of a cause
of action until the plaintiff knew or, exercising reasonable diligence, should have known of the
facts giving rise to the cause of action. Trinity River Auth. v. URS Consultants, 889 S.W.2d
259, 262 (Tex. 1994). However, the discovery rule applies only in certain limited
circumstances. See Computer Assocs. Int'l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 918 S.W.2d 453, 456 (Tex.
1996). Generally, application has been permitted in cases where the nature of the injury
incurred is inherently undiscoverable and the evidence of the injury is objectively verifiable.
See id. The requirement of inherent undiscoverability recognizes that the discovery rule
exception should be permitted only where "it is difficult for the injured party to learn of the
negligent act or omission." Willis v. Maverick, 760 S.W.2d 642, 645 (Tex. 1988). This is
particularly true in the context of a fiduciary. See Altai, 918 S.W.2d at 456. Fiduciaries are
presumed to possess superior knowledge, and the injured party is presumed to possess less
information than the fiduciary. See id. While a person owed a fiduciary duty has some
responsibility to ascertain when an injury occurs, it may be said that the nature of the injury is
presumed to be inherently undiscoverable. Courseview, Inc. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 158
Tex. 397, 312 S.W.2d 197, 205 (1957). The issue in a breach of fiduciary duty case is, thus,
when the plaintiff knew or should have known, with the exercise of reasonable diligence, of the
legal injury giving rise to the right to sue. In re Fawcett, 55 S.W.3d 214, 219 (Tex.
App.--Eastland 2001, pet. denied).
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