Contracts can be as complicated as a multi-million dollar business merger or as simple as an agreement to cut your grass. When all parties uphold their ends of the agreement, everything goes along fine. However, when one party fails to deliver upon their promise, you might be damaged financially as a result.
People who have been damaged by another individual’s breach of a contract want to be made whole. However, if a party to the agreement refuses to abide by its terms, the other party or parties might have to hire an attorney and file suit, which can be expensive. However, under Texas Law, a party suing to recover for a breach of a contract may be able to recover their own attorney’s fees as well.
The general rule in Texas is that each party pays its own attorney’s fees. Turner v. Turner, 385 S.W.2d 230, 233 (Tex. 1964). However, attorney’s fees are recoverable under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 38.001 in lawsuits for (1) rendered services; performed labor; (3) furnished material; (4) freight or express overcharges; (5) lost or damaged freight or express; (6) killed or injured stock; (7) a sworn account; or (8) an oral or written contract. The most common lawsuits where this section is invoked by litigators are suits on sworn accounts, oral or written contracts and lawsuits for rendered services or performed labor. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 38.001.
One thing to note is that this statute is not left to the judge’s discretion. This means that, the judge (provided that proof and pleading and other requirements are met) does not have discretion in awarding fees to the prevailing party. D. F. W. Christian Television, Inc. v. Thorton, 933 S.W.2d 488, 490 (Tex. 1996). Attorney’s fees are recoverable for work before and during trial.
Additionally, attorney’s fees may be recoverable past trial and through the appellate process. Neal v. SMC Corp., 99 S.W.3d 813, 818 (Tex. App. — Dallas, 2003, no pet). Attorney’s fees can also be recovered in cases where the attorney is working on a contingent fee (e.g. 33% of the recovery).
People who have been wronged in a breach of contract case should be able to be made whole and recovering attorney’s fees spent to make a person whole is a vital part of that process.