law-legal-sufficiency-review | no-evidence error on appeal | factual vs. legal sufficiency

LEGAL SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE JUDGMENT

A legal sufficiency challenge will be sustained only if (1) there is a complete absence of
evidence of a vital fact; (2) the court is barred by the rules of law or evidence from giving weight
to the only evidence offered to prove a vital fact; (3) the evidence offered to prove a vital fact is
no more than a scintilla; or (4) the evidence conclusively establishes the opposite of a vital fact.  
Marathon Corp. v. Pitzner, 106 S.W.3d 724, 727 (Tex. 2003).  More than a scintilla of evidence
exists when the evidence rises to a level that would enable reasonable and fair-minded people
to differ in their conclusions.  Ford Motor Co. v. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d 598, 601 (Tex. 2004).  
Evidence does not exceed a scintilla if it is so weak as to do no more than to create a mere
surmise or suspicion that the fact exists.  Id.

Following a jury trial, a legal sufficiency challenge must be preserved in the trial court through
one of the following procedural steps: (1) a motion for instructed verdict; (2) a motion for
judgment notwithstanding the verdict; (3) an objection to the submission of the question to the
jury; (4) a motion to disregard the jury’s answer to a vital fact question; or (5) a motion for new
trial.  T.O. Stanley Boot Co. v. Bank of El Paso, 847 S.W.2d 218, 220 (Tex. 1992); Cecil v.
Smith, 804 S.W.2d 509, 510-11 (Tex. 1991).

In a legal-sufficiency challenge, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the challenged
finding and indulge every reasonable inference that would support it. City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d
802, 822 (Tex. 2005). We credit favorable evidence if a reasonable fact finder could, and disregard
contrary evidence unless a reasonable fact finder could not. Id. at 827. The evidence is legally sufficient
if it would enable fair-minded people to reach the verdict under review. Id. The trier of fact is the sole
judge of the witnesses' credibility and the weight to be given to their testimony. Id. at 819. This court
cannot substitute its judgment for that of the trier of fact, so long as the evidence falls within the zone of
reasonable disagreement. Id. at 822. But if the evidence allows only one inference, neither jurors nor the
reviewing court may disregard it. Id.

We must sustain a legal sufficiency point: (1) when there is a complete absence of a vital fact; (2) when
rules of law or evidence preclude according weight to the only evidence offered to prove a vital fact; (3)
when the evidence offered to prove a vital fact is no more than a scintilla; or (4) when the evidence
conclusively establishes the opposite of the vital fact. El-Khoury v. Kheir, 241 S.W.3d 82, 86 (Tex. App.-
Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, pet. denied) (citing City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 810 & nn. 15-16
(Tex. 2005)). "The final test for legal sufficiency must always be whether the evidence at trial would
enable reasonable and fair-minded people to reach the verdict under review." City of Keller, 241 S.W.3d
at 827.
Crown Asset Management LLC v. Short (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 16, 2009)(Hanks)
(
MV note suit fails on summary judgment, inadequate documentation attached, declaratory judgment on
car ownership reversed, UDJA fees reversed, no judicial admission as to MV title)
AFFIRM TRIAL COURT JUDGMENT IN PART, REVERSE TC JUDGMENT IN PART, AND RENDER
JUDGMENT:
Opinion by
Justice Hanks   
Before Chief Justice Radack, Justices Alcala and Hanks  
01-08-00042-CV
Crown Asset Management, LLC v. Christopher B. Short  
Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No 1 of Harris County
Trial Court Judge:
Hon. R. Jack Cagle


When reviewing legal sufficiency of the evidence, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to
the challenged finding and indulge every reasonable inference that would support it.  City of Keller v.
Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 822 (Tex. 2005).  We credit favorable evidence if a reasonable fact finder
could, and we disregard contrary evidence unless a reasonable fact finder could not.  Id. at 827.  The
evidence is legally sufficient if it would enable fair-minded people to reach the finding under review.  Id.

We will sustain a no-evidence point only when (1) the record discloses a complete absence of evidence
of a vital fact, (2) the court is barred by rules of law or of evidence from giving weight to the only
evidence offered to prove a vital fact, (3) the evidence offered to prove a vital fact is no more than a
mere scintilla, or (4) the evidence establishes conclusively the opposite of the vital fact.  See Marathon
Corp. v. Pitzner, 106 S.W.3d 724, 727 (Tex. 2003).  An appellant attacking the legal sufficiency of
evidence supporting an adverse finding on which he had the burden of proof must show on appeal that a
contrary finding was established as a matter of law.  See Croucher v. Croucher, 660 S.W.2d 55, 58 (Tex.
1983).

Standards of Review for Sufficiency of Evidence

"The final test for legal sufficiency must always be whether the evidence at trial would enable reasonable
and fair-minded people to reach the verdict under review." City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827
(Tex. 2005). Legal-sufficiency review in the proper light must credit favorable evidence if reasonable
jurors could, and disregard contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not. Id. If the evidence
would enable reasonable and fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions, then jurors must be
allowed to do so. Id. at 822. A reviewing court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the trier-of-fact,
so long as the evidence falls within this zone of reasonable disagreement. Id. Although the reviewing
court must consider evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and indulge every reasonable
inference that would support it, if the evidence allows only one inference, neither jurors nor the reviewing
court may disregard it. Id. "In determining factual sufficiency, this Court weighs all the evidence, both
supporting and conflicting, and may set the finding aside only if it is so contrary to the overwhelming
weight of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and manifestly unjust." Whaley v. Cent. Church of Christ,
227 S.W.3d 228, 231 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.) (citing Cain v. Bain, 709 S.W.2d 175,
176 (Tex. 1986); Comm'n of Contracts v. Arriba Ltd., 882 S.W.2d 576, 582 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st
Dist.] 1994, no writ)). "In an appeal from a bench trial, we may not invade the fact-finding role of the trial
court, which alone determines the credibility of the witnesses, the weight to give their testimony, and
whether to accept or reject all or any part of that testimony." Id. (citing Nordstrom v. Nordstrom, 965 S.W.
2d 575, 580-81 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, pet. denied)).
Harris County v. Hinojosa (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jul. 2, 2009)
(
worker's comp appeal, whether auto accident occurred in course and scope of employment)
AFFIRM TRIAL COURT JUDGMENT: Opinion by
Justice Elsa Alcala     
Before Justices Jennings, Alcala and Higley   
01-08-00439-CV  Harris County v. Eluid Hinojosa   
Appeal from 55th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court Judge:
Hon. Jeffrey A. Shadwick     


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