Barth v. Bank of America, N.A. (Tex. 2011)(Per Curiam Opinion)
FULL TEXT OF OPINION
Jerry L. Barth sued “Bank of America Corporation”. Bank of America, N.A. answered,
asserting that it had been, in its words, “incorrectly named”. At trial, the witnesses referred simply
to “Bank of America”, with one exception: Bank of America, N.A.’s corporate representative
testified, in response to a question by Bank of America, N.A.’s counsel regarding the “actual entity
[involved in the dispute] that we’re here over today”, that it was “Bank of America National
Association”. Bank of America Corporation was not mentioned in the evidence. During the jury
charge conference after the close of the evidence, the trial court granted Barth a trial amendment to
correct the misnomer, but the liability questions submitted to the jury and answered in Barth’s favor
all referred to Bank of America Corporation. The trial court rendered judgment against Bank of
America, N.A. on the verdict. The court of appeals reversed and rendered, holding that the verdict
does not support the judgment. ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi 2010). We disagre
Bank of America, N.A. argues that this is a case of misidentification, not misnomer. The
argument, contrary to Bank of America, N.A.’s own answer in the trial court, is clearly wrong. We
A misnomer differs from a misidentification. Enserch Corp. v. Parker, 794 S.W.2d
2, 4 (Tex. 1990). Misidentification — the consequences of which are generally harsh
— arises when two separate legal entities exist and a plaintiff mistakenly sues an
entity with a name similar to that of the correct entity. Chilkewitz v. Hyson, 22
S.W.3d 825, 828 (Tex. 1999). A misnomer occurs when a party misnames itself or
another party, but the correct parties are involved. Id. (noting that “[m]isnomer
arises when a plaintiff sues the correct entity but misnames it”). Courts generally
allow parties to correct a misnomer so long as it is not misleading.
In re Greater Houston Orthopaedic Specialists, Inc., 295 S.W.3d 323, 325 (Tex. 2009) (per curiam)
(footnote and citations omitted). Bank of America, N.A. agrees that it has not been misled. This
is a clear case of misnomer.
Bank of America, N.A. also argues that the jury findings of Bank of America Corporation’s
liability support a judgment only against Bank of America Corporation. But there was no evidence
at trial that Bank of America, Bank of America, N.A., and Bank of America Corporation were
different entities, and Bank of America, N.A.’s representative testified that Bank of America, N.A.
was the entity involved in the dispute. Nothing in the record suggests that the jury could possibly
have been confused, and its answers must be taken to be applicable to Bank of America, N.A.
Accordingly, we grant Barth’s petition for review, and without oral argument, TEX. R. APP.
P. 59.1, reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case to that court for consideration
of other issues raised by Bank of America, N.A.
Opinion delivered: August 26, 2011
OPINION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS BELOW: Court of Appeals
Also see: Texas Causes of Action | 2011 Texas Supreme Court Opinions | 2011 Tex Sup Ct Per Curiams
Barth v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 10-0659 (Tex. Aug. 26, 2011)(per curiam opinion)
(misnomer vs. misidentification)
JERRY L. BARTH v. BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.; from Hidalgo County; 13th district (13-08-00612 CV, ___
SW3d ___, 05-06-10)
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 59.1, after granting the petition for review and without
hearing oral argument, the Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and remands the case to that
Per Curiam Opinion [pdf]
Link to e-briefs: BARTH v. BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.