A Texas court of appeals has affirmed a summary judgment that Jackson Walker obtained for its client in a breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty case. Thomas Muller sued Jackson Walker’s client—Stewart Title Guaranty Company—after a proposed real estate deal in Mexico was canceled. A Stewart Title division served as the escrow agent for the transaction, and Muller claimed that when the deal was called off, Stewart Title should have sent money to his bank account instead of the to a bank account of the proposed buyer. Muller claimed that Stewart Title had breached the escrow agreement that the proposed seller, buyer, and Stewart Title had signed and that Stewart Title breached fiduciary duties it owed to Muller.
Jackson Walker persuaded the trial court to dismiss all claims in the suit. Jackson Walker partner John Koepke argued the case before the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston, and that court affirmed the judgment. The Court of Appeals agreed with John’s argument that Muller was not a third-party beneficiary of the escrow agreement and that Stewart Title did not owe any fiduciary duties to Muller.
The case is Muller v. Stewart Title Guar. Co., ___ S.W.3d ___, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 5600 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] June 20, 2017, n.p.h.). The Stewart Title parties were represented by Jackson Walker partners John Koepke and Scott McElhaney, who authored the brief to the court of appeals.
John Koepke has jury tried cases for Fortune 500 corporations, privately held companies, insurers, employers, and healthcare facilities; including arbitrations, administrative proceedings, class actions, state and federal court trials; first chair trials to verdict in nearly 40 cases in eight states, in rural counties to major metropolitan areas in Texas and across the Midwest.
Scott M. McElhaney tries cases, handles appeals, and provides counsel for large and small companies as well as business executives. His aim is to help clients cost-effectively resolve commercial disputes and employment law matters. He has over 25 years of experience in contract and commercial tort suits and trade secret and non-competition agreement cases. He regularly advises businesses on employment disputes and handles employment discrimination, ERISA and other labor claims. He focuses on the long-term commercial needs of his clients by identifying risks and providing strategies for handling complex legal challenges.