Jay Cohen v. Tour Partners, LTD., Dennis J. Wilkerson, and Eighteen Investments, Inc. ( 2017 )


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  • Opinion issued April 27, 2017
    
    
    
    
                                          In The
    
                                  Court of Appeals
                                         For The
    
                              First District of Texas
                                ————————————
                                  NO. 01-15-00705-CV
                               ———————————
                                JAY COHEN, Appellant
                                            V.
      TOUR PARTNERS, LTD., DENNIS J. WILKERSON, AND EIGHTEEN
                   INVESTMENTS, INC., Appellees
    
    
                        On Appeal from the 55th District Court
                                Harris County, Texas
                          Trial Court Case No. 2013-68181
    
    
                             MEMORANDUM OPINION
    
          Tour Partners, Ltd. asserted third-party claims against Jay Cohen related to a
    
    failed real estate transaction. Cohen asserted counterclaims against Tour Partners
    
    and argued that Tour Partners had participated in a fraudulent transfer of real
    
    property. Tour Partners moved for summary judgment on the counterclaims,
    arguing that limitation had run. In the course of the summary-judgment
    
    proceeding, Cohen made a statement that the trial court treated as a judicial
    
    admission. Based on that admission, the trial court entered summary-judgment
    
    against Cohen on limitations grounds.1
    
          We conclude that the trial court erred in granting summary-judgment on
    
    limitations grounds and reverse the summary-judgment order. The trial court has
    
    not ruled on the merits of Cohen’s counterclaims or on various other defensive
    
    arguments raised by Tour Partners. We remand for consideration of those
    
    arguments.
    
                                        Background
    
          Jay Cohen once held a one-third ownership interest in property located at
    
    2017 Preston Avenue in Houston. That property has had a complicated history of
    
    transferred ownership. The following individuals and entities have asserted an
    
    interest in the property in the order they are listed: (1) Jay Cohen, (2) Preston
    
    Realty Corporation, which is controlled by Matthew Dilick, (3) Tour Partners, and
    
    (4) Ellington F Holdings, LLC.
    
          There has been a great deal of litigation over this property. Cohen has
    
    initiated two suits. The first was filed in 2010 against Dilick in the 234th District
    
    
    1
          At the time the trial court ruled, the summary-judgment order was interlocutory
          and not appealable. Other aspects of the case were later resolved, allowing Cohen
          to appeal the summary-judgment order.
                                              2
    Court of Harris County. We refer to it as Suit Number One. The second was filed
    
    in 2013 against Tour Partners in the 269th District Court of Harris County. We
    
    refer to it as Suit Number Two. While Cohen was asserting claims against Tour
    
    Partners in Suit Number Two, Ellington filed Suit Number Three (this suit) against
    
    Tour Partners in the 55th District Court of Harris County. Tour Partners tried to
    
    consolidate the two suits against it (Suit Number Two and Suit Number Three), but
    
    its motion was denied. Thereafter, Tour Partners asserted third-party claims in this
    
    suit against Cohen, who added his own counterclaims against Tour Partners. At
    
    that point, Cohen had claims against Tour Partners pending in two suits.
    
          Tour Partners moved for summary judgment in Suit Number Two on all
    
    Cohen’s pending claims. The motion was granted, but it did not fully resolve that
    
    case against Tour Partners because Cohen had added a fraudulent-transfer claim
    
    while the summary-judgment motion was pending. Later, Cohen nonsuited the
    
    fraudulent-transfer claim in Suit Number Two and, on the same day, added it as a
    
    counterclaim in Suit Number Three.
    
          Tour Partners moved for summary judgment in Suit Number Three on
    
    Cohen’s counterclaims. One of its arguments was that the limitations period had
    
    expired on those claims. While the summary-judgment motion was pending,
    
    Cohen made a statement regarding the document that purported to transfer
    
    ownership of the property from Dilick’s entity to Tour Partners. The trial court
    
    
                                             3
    treated Cohen’s statement as a judicial admission and, based on that admission,
    
    held that limitations had expired and granted Tour Partners summary judgment on
    
    that basis.
    
           We discuss below the document Cohen commented on, what Cohen said
    
    about it, and the trial court’s limited ruling based on Cohen’s statement.
    
    A.     The “deed” and Tour Partners’s argument that Cohen’s knowledge of
           the deed began the limitations period for his claims
    
           In February 2010, a “special warranty deed” was filed in the Harris County
    
    Public Records that lists Preston Realty Corporation, a Dilick-controlled entity, as
    
    a “grantor,” Tour Partners as a “grantee,” and the Preston Avenue property as the
    
    subject property. It contains the following terms and no more:
    
           Date:               February 1, 2010
    
           Grantor:            Preston Realty Corporation
                               [address]
    
           Grantee:            Tour Partners Limited
                               [address]
    
           Consideration:      Cash and other good and valuable consideration
    
           Property:           2017 Preston, Houston, Texas 77002 consisting of
                               Lots One [and other described areas of real
                               property].
    
    The “deed” did not include any statements of conveyance; it described neither the
    
    percentage of ownership interest being transferred nor the type of interest to be
    
    conveyed (e.g., fee simple, life estate, mineral rights).
    
                                               4
          Cohen found out about this filing in April 2010 but stated that he believed
    
    the “deed” was void because it lacked conveyance language.
    
          Tour Partners argued in its summary-judgment motion filed in Suit Number
    
    Three that Cohen had sufficient knowledge to begin the limitations period on his
    
    claims against it no later than April 2010 when he found out about the document.
    
    According to Tour Partners, it was entitled to summary judgment on limitations
    
    grounds because Cohen did not assert claims against it in Suit Number Three until
    
    November 2014, which was more than four years later. Alternatively, Tour
    
    Partners argued that Cohen had no evidence on at least one element of each of his
    
    claims, and Tour Partners, therefore, was entitled to summary judgment on no-
    
    evidence grounds.
    
          Cohen responded by arguing that the 2010 “deed” did not have any language
    
    of conveyance and, therefore, neither the filing of that document nor his
    
    knowledge of it could have begun the limitations period on his fraudulent-transfer
    
    and other claims. He also requested time to conduct discovery to respond to the no-
    
    evidence motion, pointing out that he was added to Suit Number Three after the
    
    discovery period had ended.
    
    B.    Cohen’s statement
    
          The trial court held a hearing on the summary-judgment motion. The next
    
    day, Cohen filed a brief to “correct” his “misinterpretation of law regarding the
    
    
                                            5
    nature of [the] 2010 deed.” The brief recounted his counsel’s earlier statement that
    
    the 2010 “deed” had to be treated as a nullity because it lacked the normal
    
    language of conveyance. The brief modified the nullity statement to assert that, if
    
    the grantor had intended to convey the property through the 2010 “deed,” which
    
    Cohen always disputed was the intent, then the document would not be a nullity
    
    but would instead be, at most, “nothing more than a quitclaim deed”:
    
          The lack of conveyance language does not automatically render the
          2010 Deed a nullity (unless that was the intent of the grantor). The
          lack of language of conveyance in fact renders the 2010 Deed nothing
          more than a quitclaim deed.
    
    Cohen continued to maintain in his brief, as he had before, that the applicable
    
    limitations periods did not begin to accrue until 2013 when a second, “corrected”
    
    deed was filed that did contain the necessary language of conveyance.
    
    C.    The trial court’s ruling
    
          In its order granting Tour Partner’s summary-judgment motion, the trial
    
    court denied Cohen’s request to conduct discovery, explaining that the facts “are
    
    fully developed, to the extent necessary to rule on [the affirmative defenses].” The
    
    trial court then explained the significance it gave to Cohen’s post-hearing
    
    statement that the 2010 “deed” is “nothing more than a quitclaim deed.” The order
    
    states in pertinent part as follows:
    
          Preston Realty purported to convey the Property to [Tour Partners] by
          way of a “Special Warranty Deed” dated February 4, 2010 (the “2010
          Deed.”) Cohen points out that this deed does not contain language of
    
                                             6
          conveyance, but concedes that at a minimum it is a quitclaim deed
          (Brief filed by Cohen’s counsel on January 21, 2015.)
                                            ***
          A fraudulent transfer claim is extinguished four years after the date of
          the transfer. Section 24.007(1)(A) states that a transfer of real property
          occurs when it is perfected as against a third party. Whether a
          quitclaim or something more, the 2010 Deed was filed of record on
          February 4, 2010 and thus perfected. It was a “transfer.” Cohen’s
          TUFTA claim was filed more than four years later on November 17,
          2014. Cohen’s fraudulent transfer claim is extinguished.
    
          Cohen admits that he had actual knowledge of the 2010 Deed in April
          of 2010. For purposes of Cohen’s other claims it does not matter
          whether the 2010 Deed was a nullity, a quitclaim, or something else.
          His April 2010 actual knowledge was an accrual of all other claims.
          The Statute of Limitations has run on all such claims.
    
    With this interlocutory order, Cohen’s counterclaims were resolved against him in
    
    Suit Number Three. Tour Partner’s third-party suit against Cohen continued, as did
    
    the claims between Ellington and Tour Partners and its co-defendants, Dennis J.
    
    Wilkerson and Eighteen Investments, Inc. Because these other claims remained
    
    unresolved, the trial court retained jurisdiction and the ability to enter additional
    
    orders.
    
    D.    Tour Partners’s second summary-judgment motion
    
          Two months after the interlocutory summary-judgment order, Tour Partners
    
    filed a “supplemental motion for summary judgment,” arguing that Cohen’s
    
    counterclaims are barred by res judicata. Tour Partners argued that the summary-
    
    judgment it obtained in Suit Number Two on all of Cohen’s claims (except the
    
    
                                              7
    later-filed fraudulent-transfer claim) barred his counterclaims in Suit Number
    
    Three and that the fraudulent-transfer claim is also barred because it “aris[es] from
    
    the same transaction as his other claims.” Tour Partners asked the trial court to
    
    “buttress its prior summary judgment order” by granting its supplemental
    
    summary-judgment motion.
    
          Cohen filed an objection and response to the supplemental summary-
    
    judgment motion, arguing, among other things, that it would be error to grant
    
    summary judgment on claims that were no longer pending.
    
          More than twenty days after the motion was filed, the trial court denied the
    
    motion on non-substantive grounds, stating that Tour Partners’s motion sought an
    
    advisory opinion on claims that had already been dismissed and that the trial court
    
    declined to issue such an advisory opinion. Thus, while the trial court denied the
    
    motion, it did so without ruling on the merits of Tour Partners’s res judicata
    
    argument or Cohen’s defenses to applying res judicata in the context of
    
    overlapping litigation.
    
          One month later, all remaining parties nonsuited their claims, making the
    
    earlier interlocutory summary judgment final and appealable. Before appealing the
    
    judgment against him, Cohen filed a motion for new trial, arguing that he had
    
    uncovered “new evidence” that Preston Realty had continued to act as the property
    
    owner after purporting to sell the property to Tour Partners through the defective
    
    
                                             8
    2010 “deed.” According to Cohen, this new evidence supported his assertion that
    
    the 2010 “deed” was a sham transaction that involved no intention to transfer
    
    ownership and did not, in the end, affect his interest in the property. His motion
    
    was denied by operation of law, and he appealed the summary judgment against
    
    him. Tour Partners cross-appeals the denial of its supplemental motion for
    
    summary judgment. We reverse.
    
                      Summary Judgment for Tour Partners on its
                          Limitations Affirmative Defenses
    
          The trial court granted Tour Partners summary judgment on its affirmative
    
    defenses. In his first issue, Cohen argues that Tour Partners did not establish its
    
    affirmative defenses as a matter of law. We agree.
    
    A.    Standard of review
    
          We review a trial court’s summary judgment de novo. Travelers Ins. Co. v.
    
    Joachim, 
    315 S.W.3d 860
    , 862 (Tex. 2010). Under the traditional standard for
    
    summary judgment, the movant has the burden to show that there is no genuine
    
    issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. TEX. R.
    
    CIV. P. 166a(c); KPMG Peat Marwick v. Harrison Cty. Hous. Fin. Corp., 
    988 S.W.2d 746
    , 748 (Tex. 1999). A defendant moving for traditional summary
    
    judgment must conclusively negate at least one essential element of each of the
    
    plaintiff’s causes of action or conclusively establish each element of an affirmative
    
    defense. Sci. Spectrum, Inc. v. Martinez, 
    941 S.W.2d 910
    , 911 (Tex. 1997). The
    
                                              9
    motion must state the specific grounds relied upon for summary judgment. TEX. R.
    
    CIV. P. 166a(c). When reviewing a summary judgment motion, we must (1) take as
    
    true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant, and (2) indulge every reasonable
    
    inference and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant’s favor. Valence Operating Co.
    
    v. Dorsett, 
    164 S.W.3d 656
    , 661 (Tex. 2005); Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co. v.
    
    Knott, 
    128 S.W.3d 211
    , 215 (Tex. 2003).
    
          Once a defendant moving for summary judgment establishes all of the
    
    elements of an affirmative defense as a matter of law, the burden of production
    
    shifts to the non-movant to defeat the defendant’s affirmative defense. See EPGT
    
    Tex. Pipeline, L.P. v. Harris Cty. Flood Control Dist., 
    176 S.W.3d 330
    , 335 (Tex.
    
    App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, pet. dism’d). The non-movant’s response will
    
    defeat a facially valid affirmative defense if it (1) demonstrates that the motion’s
    
    legal position regarding the affirmative defense is unsound, (2) raises a fact issue
    
    on the elements of the affirmative defense, or (3) sets forth a counter-affirmative
    
    defense to the affirmative defense. See Walters v. Cleveland Reg’l Med. Ctr., 
    307 S.W.3d 292
    , 295 (Tex. 2010) (holding that when movant defendant proved statute
    
    of limitations affirmative defense burden shifted to non-movant to raise fact issue
    
    on lack of reasonable opportunity to discover and bring suit within limitations
    
    period); G.C. Bldgs., Inc. v. RGS Contractors, Inc., 
    188 S.W.3d 739
    , 742 (Tex.
    
    App.—Dallas 2006, no pet.) (stating that if defendant establishes affirmative
    
    
                                            10
    defense in a summary judgment motion, “the burden then shifts to the party
    
    opposing the motion to raise a genuine issue of material fact or show the
    
    defendant’s legal position is unsound”); see also TEX. R. CIV. P. 94 (including
    
    statute of limitations as affirmative defense).
    
             If the non-movant asserts a counter-affirmative defense to overcome the
    
    established affirmative defense, the non-movant must provide summary judgment
    
    evidence to raise a fact issue for each element of the counter-affirmative defense.
    
    See Rabe v. Dillard’s Inc., 
    214 S.W.3d 767
    , 768 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2007, no
    
    pet.).
    
             Given that the trial court based its summary-judgment ruling on Cohen’s
    
    statement that the 2010 “deed” is “nothing more than a quitclaim deed,” for us to
    
    determine whether Tour Partners established its affirmative defenses as a matter of
    
    law, we must consider the legal effect of Cohen’s statement.
    
    B.       Cohen’s statement is not a judicial admission
    
             Cohen’s post-hearing brief filed to clarify his position regarding the nature
    
    of the 2010 “deed” stated that it was “nothing more than a quitclaim deed.” The
    
    trial court treated Cohen’s statement as an admission that the 2010 “deed” was “at
    
    a minimum . . . a quitclaim deed,” and, based on that admission, granted summary
    
    judgment to Tour Partners.
    
    
    
    
                                               11
          We conclude that the trial court erred by treating Cohen’s statement as a
    
    judicial admission to meet Tour Partners’s burden to establish its affirmative
    
    defenses. We do so because a party may not judicially admit issues of law and
    
    whether an unambiguous document is a quitclaim deed or some other form of
    
    transfer is a question of law.
    
          1.     Judicial admissions are limited to issues of fact, not law
    
          “A judicial admission results when a party makes a statement of fact which
    
    conclusively disproves a right of recovery or defense he currently asserts.”
    
    Seminole Pipeline Co. v. Broad Leaf Partners, Inc., 
    979 S.W.2d 730
    , 740 (Tex.
    
    App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1998, no pet.); see H.E. Butt Grocery Co. v. Pais, 
    955 S.W.2d 384
    , 389 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1997, no writ); Gevinson v. Manhattan
    
    Constr. Co. of Okl., 
    449 S.W.2d 458
    , 466 (Tex. 1969). The elements for
    
    establishing that a statement is a judicial admission are
    
          (1)    the statement must be made in the course of a judicial
                 proceeding;
          (2)    it must be contrary to an essential fact or defense asserted by
                 the party;
          (3)    it must be deliberate, clear, and unequivocal;
          (4)    it cannot be destructive of the opposing party’s theory of
                 recovery or defense; and
          (5)    enforcing the statement as a judicial admission would be
                 consistent with public policy.
    
    H2O Sols., Ltd. v. PM Realty Grp., LP, 
    438 S.W.3d 606
    , 617 (Tex. App.—Houston
    
    [1st Dist.] 2014, pet. denied). Counsel’s statements on behalf of a client will be
                                              12
    deemed judicial admissions if they satisfy these five criteria. Seminole Pipeline
    
    Co., 979 S.W.2d at 740. “The principle of binding a party by his judicial admission
    
    should be applied with caution because the effect is that the declarant swears
    
    himself out of court.” Id.
    
          “A party may not judicially admit a question of law.” Pais, 955 S.W.2d at
    
    389; see Jackson v. Tex. S. Univ.-Thurgood Marshall Sch. of Law, 
    231 S.W.3d 437
    , 440 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, pet. denied); see also Fort Bend
    
    Cent. Appraisal Dist. v. Hines Wholesale Nurseries, 
    844 S.W.2d 857
    , 858–59
    
    (Tex. App.—Texarkana 1992, writ denied) (holding that question of whether error
    
    is clerical error is question of law, not fact, and admission is of no effect).
    
          2.     The correct legal classification of the 2010 “deed” is a legal
                 question
    
          A quitclaim deed is a “deed that conveys a grantor’s complete interest or
    
    claim in certain real property but that neither warrants nor professes that the title is
    
    valid.” Quitclaim Deed, BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (10th ed. 2014); see Geodyne
    
    Energy Income Prod. P’ship I-E v. Newton Corp., 
    161 S.W.3d 482
    , 486 & n.12
    
    (Tex. 2005) (comparing warranty deed that conveys property to quitclaim deed that
    
    conveys grantor’s rights in that property). Absent an ambiguity, the construction of
    
    a deed, like contracts generally, is a question of law. Gordon v. W. Houston Trees,
    
    Ltd., 
    352 S.W.3d 32
    , 43 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, no pet.); see Coker
    
    v. Coker, 
    650 S.W.2d 391
    , 393 (Tex. 1983). “In deciding whether an instrument is
    
                                               13
    a quitclaim deed, courts look to whether the language of the instrument, taken as a
    
    whole, conveyed property itself or merely the grantor’s rights.” Newton, 161
    
    S.W.3d at 486; see Roberts v. Corbett, 
    265 S.W.2d 127
    , 128 (Tex. Civ. App.—
    
    Galveston 1954, writ ref’d) (describing court’s determination that deed was
    
    quitclaim deed as “conclusion[] of law”). The underlying issue of whether an
    
    instrument is ambiguous also presents a question of law. See Coker, 650 S.W.2d at
    
    394.
    
           There is no ambiguity in the language of the 2010 “deed.” While the
    
    document identifies a grantor and a grantee and describes land, it contains no
    
    provision to transfer any ownership interest or rights from the grantor to the
    
    grantee. There is no conveyance language that could be considered ambiguous
    
    because it is wholly absent from the document. Because the terms of the document
    
    are unambiguous, the issue of whether the 2010 “deed” operates as a quitclaim
    
    deed is a question of law.
    
           3.    Cohen cannot judicially admit a question of law
    
           Cohen’s concession that the instrument is “nothing more than a quitclaim
    
    deed”—which the trial court treated as an admission that it is “at a minimum . . . a
    
    quitclaim deed”—addressed a question of law and, therefore, does not have the
    
    legal effect of a judicial admission. Pais, 955 S.W.2d at 389; Fort Bend Cent.
    
    Appraisal Dist., 844 S.W.2d at 859 (admission of question of law “is of no
    
    
                                            14
    effect”). As such, and contrary to the trial court’s ruling, the statement, standing
    
    alone, cannot satisfy Tour Partners’s burden to prove its affirmative defenses.
    
          To the extent the trial court granted summary judgment because it treated
    
    Cohen’s statement as a judicial admission, the court erred. We turn next to whether
    
    the 2010 instrument is a deed capable of affecting Cohen’s interest in the property,
    
    regardless of Cohen’s characterization of the instrument, so that knowledge of the
    
    instrument in 2010 would have begun the limitations period on Cohen’s claims.
    
    C.    The 2010 instrument is not a deed as a matter of law
    
           By statute, a deed “must be in writing and must be subscribed or delivered
    
    by the conveyor or the conveyor’s agent.” TEX. PROP. CODE § 5.021. There are no
    
    formal or technical requirements for an instrument to qualify as a deed, but it must
    
    “contain the essential characteristics of a deed.” Gordon, 352 S.W.3d at 43; see
    
    Green v. Canon, 
    33 S.W.3d 855
    , 858 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2000, pet.
    
    denied). To be a legally effective conveyance, there are four “essential
    
    characteristics of a deed,” the second of which is critical here:
    
          (1)    a grantor and grantee can be ascertained from the instrument as a
                 whole;
          (2)    there are operative words of grant showing the grantor’s intention to
                 convey to the grantee title to a real property interest;
          (3)    the property is sufficiently described; and
          (4)    the instrument is signed and acknowledged by the grantor.
    Gordon, 352 S.W.3d at 43.
    
    
                                              15
           Under the second essential element, a document can operate as a deed only
    
    if it conveys an interest in property. See id.; see also Deed, BLACK’S LAW
    
    DICTIONARY (10th ed. 2014) (defining “deed” as “written instrument by which land
    
    is conveyed”). Without operative words of grant showing the grantor’s intention to
    
    convey an interest in property to the grantee, an instrument is not a deed. See
    
    Gordon, 352 S.W.3d at 44. Words of grant are necessary because, without them, it
    
    would not be possible to determine what portion of ownership (e.g., 100% versus
    
    something less) or type of ownership interest (e.g., fee simple versus, for example,
    
    a limited mineral interest or an easement) is being conveyed.
    
          Although the 2010 document lists a grantor and grantee, identifies the
    
    Preston Avenue property, and is signed by the grantor, it does not contain any
    
    operative words of grant. While there is no “magic language” or particular terms
    
    that must be used, the 2010 document contains no words of conveyance except for
    
    the words “grantor” and “grantee”—neither of which describes or identifies what
    
    interest is conveyed. Because the document unambiguously fails to convey title
    
    and fails to identify any interest in the described property that is conveyed to Tour
    
    Partners, as a matter of law, it is not a deed. See id. at 43–44; Green, 33 S.W.3d at
    
    858–59.
    
    
    
    
                                             16
          Next, we consider whether Tour Partners established a right to judgment on
    
    limitations grounds on each of Cohen’s counterclaims that was not dependent on
    
    the 2010 instrument qualifying as a deed through judicial admission or otherwise.
    
    D.    Tour Partners did not establish a right to judgment on limitations
          grounds on Cohen’s counterclaims
    
          The trial court ruled that Cohen’s fraudulent transfer, unjust enrichment, and
    
    fraud counterclaims had extinguished before he raised them.
    
          1.      TUFTA claim
    
          Cohen asserted a claim under the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.
    
    See TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE §§ 24.001–.013. The purpose of TUFTA is to prevent
    
    a debtor from fraudulently placing assets beyond its creditor’s reach “with actual
    
    intent to hinder, delay, or defraud” the creditor. Id. § 24.005(a)(1); Corpus v.
    
    Arriaga, 
    294 S.W.3d 629
    , 634 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2009, no pet.). A
    
    creditor may obtain a judgment directly against the debtor or, instead, against a
    
    TUFTA transferee. TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE § 24.009 (allowing TUFTA suit
    
    against transferee).
    
          A TUFTA claim extinguishes four years after a debtor fraudulently transfers
    
    an asset. Id. § 24.010(a)(1). If four years have lapsed, the creditor’s claim can be
    
    extended one year from the date that the transfer “was or could reasonably have
    
    been discovered” by the challenging creditor. Id.
    
    
    
                                            17
          The key date for determining whether a TUFTA claim has expired is the
    
    date of “transfer,” which is defined to include “every mode . . . of disposing of or
    
    parting with an asset or an interest in an asset, and includes payment of money,
    
    release, lease, and creation of a lien or other encumbrance.” Id. § 24.002(12). A
    
    “transfer is made . . . when the transfer is so far perfected that a good faith
    
    purchaser of the asset from the debtor against whom applicable law permits the
    
    transfer to be perfected cannot acquire an interest in the asset that is superior to the
    
    interest of the transferee . . . .” Id. § 24.007(1)(A). In other words, Preston Realty
    
    would have made a “transfer” to Tour Partners when the transaction reached the
    
    point that any subsequent, good-faith purchaser attempting to buy the property
    
    from Preston Realty could not obtain an interest superior to that held by Tour
    
    Partners. See Corpus, 294 S.W.3d at 635. A “transfer” is made, for Section 24.007
    
    purposes, “when a deed is recorded.” Id.
    
          Tour Partners argues that the 2010 “deed” qualifies as a “transfer” under
    
    TUFTA because a debtor that conveys his interest in real property to a transferee
    
    through a quitclaim deed fully transfers all interest he may have in the property and
    
    a later-in-time purchaser would be unable to take an interest superior to that of the
    
    transferee. See K.A. Dreschler, Annotation, Rights or Interests Covered by
    
    Quitclaim Deed, 
    162 A.L.R. 556
    , 557 (1946) (stating “general rule” that “quitclaim
    
    deed passes all right, title, and interest which the grantor has at the time of making
    
    
                                               18
    the deed which is capable of being transferred by deed, unless a contrary intent
    
    appears, and it transfers nothing more”).
    
          We have already concluded that the 2010 instrument is not a quitclaim deed
    
    or any other form of valid deed. It transferred nothing. As a result, the 2010 “deed”
    
    cannot be said to have transferred to Tour Partners anything that then became
    
    unavailable to transfer to a later-in-time purchaser. The deed does not qualify as a
    
    TUFTA “transfer” to begin the four-year claim period.2 The trial court erred by
    
    concluding that the TUFTA claim expired four years after this “deed” and by
    
    awarding summary judgment to Tour Partners on that basis.
    
    
    
    
    2
          Our dissenting colleague suggests that Tour Partners’s 2013 “Special Warranty
          Deed of Correction and Ratification” may relate back to the date that the 2010
          “deed” was filed in a manner that would allow Cohen’s TUFTA claim to expire
          four years after the 2010 filing even though the 2010 filing was not a valid deed
          and transferred nothing, relying on Property Code section 5.030. See Dissent at
          17–18; see also TEX. PROP. CODE § 5.030. But Tour Partners has not relied on
          Section 5.030 as a basis for arguing that Cohen’s claims expired. Nor has Tour
          Partners argued that the changes made through the 2013 “deed of correction and
          ratification” qualify under Section 5.028 or 5.029 to invoke Section 5.030’s
          relation-back provision or, if they do, that they do not also invoke a statutory
          exception to that relation-back provision, which no party has briefed to the trial
          court or this Court. See TEX. PROP. CODE §§ 5.027–.030. A relation-back
          argument that was never articulated by any party or briefed on appeal cannot
          insulate the trial court’s erroneous judgment from reversal. See TEX. R. APP. P.
          38.1(i) (requiring appellate brief to contain argument with appropriate citations to
          authorities and record); see also TEX. R. CIV. P. 166a(c) (requiring that issues be
          “expressly set out” to support summary judgment); G&H Towing Co. v. Magee,
          
    347 S.W.3d 293
    , 297 (Tex. 2011) (per curiam).
                                                19
          2.     Unjust enrichment
    
           “A party may recover under the unjust enrichment theory when one person
    
    has obtained a benefit from another by fraud, duress, or the taking of an undue
    
    advantage.” Heldenfels Bros., Inc. v. City of Corpus Christi, 
    832 S.W.2d 39
    , 41
    
    (Tex. 1992). “A key element of unjust enrichment is that the person sought to be
    
    charged wrongly secured or passively received a benefit.” Ahmed v. Shah, No. 01-
    
    13-00995-CV, 
    2015 WL 222171
    , at *5 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 15,
    
    2015, no pet.) (mem. op.).
    
           “Generally, a cause of action accrues when a wrongful act causes a legal
    
    injury.” Etan Indus., Inc. v. Lehmann, 
    359 S.W.3d 620
    , 623 (Tex. 2011) (per
    
    curiam); see Schneider Nat’l Carriers, Inc. v. Bates, 
    147 S.W.3d 264
    , 279 (Tex.
    
    2004); Clark v. Dillard’s, Inc., 
    460 S.W.3d 714
    , 719 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2015, no
    
    pet.). The date a cause of action accrues is normally a question of law. Etan Indus.,
    
    359 S.W.3d at 623.
    
          Because the 2010 “deed” conveyed nothing to Tour Partners, Tour Partners
    
    did not receive a benefit from the transaction. Accordingly, Cohen’s awareness of
    
    the 2010 “deed” in April 2010 did not begin the two-year statute of limitations on
    
    his unjust-enrichment claim against Tour Partners. See Elledge v. Friberg-Cooper
    
    Water Supply Corp., 
    240 S.W.3d 869
    , 870 (Tex. 2007) (per curiam) (citing TEX.
    
    CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 16.003).
    
    
                                             20
          Tour Partners failed to establish its statute-of-limitations affirmative defense
    
    based on the 2010 “deed.” Tour Partners offered no other rationale for concluding
    
    that Cohen’s unjust-enrichment claim began to accrue more than two years before
    
    he asserted it. Therefore, the trial court erred by granting summary judgment on the
    
    affirmative defense.
    
          3.     Fraud
    
          The elements of fraud are (1) a material representation, (2) that is false,
    
    (3) that is known to be false when made or made recklessly without knowledge of
    
    truth, (4) with intent to be acted on, (5) that is relied on, and (6) that proximately
    
    causes injury. See Italian Cowboy Partners, Ltd. v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 
    341 S.W.3d 323
    , 337 (Tex. 2011). A fraud claim has a four-year limitations period.
    
    TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 16.004(a)(4).
    
          As discussed above, the 2010 “deed” transferred nothing, and Cohen
    
    suffered no injury—a necessary fraud element—from Tour Partners’s status as the
    
    “grantee.” We, therefore, conclude that Tour Partners failed to establish its statute-
    
    of-limitations affirmative defense based on the 2010 “deed.” Tour Partners offered
    
    no other rationale for concluding that Cohen’s fraud claim began to accrue more
    
    than four years before he asserted the claim. Therefore, the trial court erred by
    
    granting summary judgment on Tour Partners’s affirmative defense.
    
    
    
    
                                             21
          In sum, Tour Partners’s did not establish its limitations affirmative defenses
    
    as a matter of law, and the trial court erred by granting summary judgment on that
    
    basis to Tour Partners on all of Cohen’s counterclaims. We, therefore, sustain
    
    Cohen’s first issue.
    
           Whether Other Grounds Raised in Summary-Judgment Motion
                    Provide an Alternative Basis for Affirming
    
          Tour Partners pleaded alternative grounds in its summary-judgment motion,
    
    including that Cohen had no evidence on certain elements of his claims. In his
    
    second and fourth issues, Cohen argues against affirming summary judgment for
    
    Tour Partners on any alternatively pleaded grounds. See Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v.
    
    Cates, 
    927 S.W.2d 623
    , 626 (Tex. 1996) (providing that, when party files
    
    summary-judgment motion that presents alternative grounds for judgment in its
    
    favor, appellate court may affirm on ground different from that relied on by trial
    
    court, in interest of judicial economy, as long as alternative ground was included in
    
    motion).
    
          Tour Partners filed a combined traditional and no-evidence motion for
    
    summary judgment. Cohen responded by alerting the trial court that he was added
    
    as a third-party defendant after significant discovery had taken place in the suit, he
    
    had not been served copies of the previously conducted discovery, and he did not
    
    have time to conduct his own discovery to respond to the no-evidence issues. The
    
    trial court denied Cohen’s request to postpone its ruling on the no-evidence motion
    
                                             22
    to allow additional discovery for the expressly stated reason that all facts that were
    
    necessary to decide the limitations issue—the basis on which the trial court granted
    
    summary judgment—were known or admitted.
    
          Because Cohen requested additional time to conduct discovery in opposition
    
    to the no-evidence motion, the trial court denied his request for the stated reason
    
    that additional discovery was unnecessary for its ruling under another theory, and
    
    we cannot know whether additional discovery would have revealed “some
    
    evidence” in opposition to Tour Partners’s no-evidence motion,3 we conclude that
    
    this is not a situation in which we should exercise discretion to affirm summary
    
    judgment on alternatively pleaded no-evidence grounds. See id. (allowing that
    
    appellate courts “may” consider other grounds for summary judgment on which
    
    trial court did not base its ruling “in the interest of judicial economy”). In our view,
    
    the better course is to remand to allow the trial court to consider whether additional
    
    time for discovery is necessary before it rules on the no-evidence motion.
    
          We sustain Cohen’s second and fourth issues to the extent that we do not
    
    affirm the summary judgment on alternatively pleaded grounds. We offer no
    
    opinion on the merits of Tour Partners’s no-evidence challenge.
    
    
    
    
    3
          For example, Cohen’s motion for new trial identifies evidence he asserts that he
          did not possess when responding to the no-evidence summary-judgment motion.
                                              23
                  Motions for Additional Discovery and for New Trial
    
          In his third issue, Cohen challenges the trial court’s order denying his
    
    motion for a continuance, thereby preventing him from conducting discovery to
    
    challenge Tour Partners’s no-evidence summary-judgment motion. We have
    
    concluded that the trial court erred by granting Tour Partners summary judgment;
    
    therefore, we are remanding the case to the trial court for additional proceedings.
    
    The dates specified in the most recent docket control order have passed, which
    
    means that new dates will be necessary. This makes the denial of the motion for
    
    additional discovery moot. Likewise, issue five, which challenges the denial of
    
    Cohen’s motion for new trial, is moot.
    
                         Cross-Appeal Challenging Denial of
                       Res Judicata Summary-Judgment Motion
    
          Through a cross-appeal, Tour Partners argues that judgment can be affirmed
    
    in its favor on yet another ground: reversing the denial of Tour Partners’s
    
    “supplemental” summary-judgment motion and rendering judgment that Cohen’s
    
    counterclaims are barred by res judicata.
    
          Tour Partners moved for and was granted summary judgment on its
    
    affirmative defenses. Because other parties and claims remained pending, the
    
    summary-judgment order was interlocutory. While the trial court still had
    
    jurisdiction over the suit, Tour Partners filed a “supplemental” summary-judgment
    
    motion, arguing that the principle of res judicata applied to the dismissed
    
                                                24
    counterclaims. Tour Partners explained that it was asking the trial court to
    
    “buttress” its earlier interlocutory order by granting this second motion concerning
    
    the same claims. Cohen objected to a summary-judgment procedure for claims that
    
    were no longer pending. Cohen also presented a factual waiver argument and some
    
    legal arguments against applying res judicata to his counterclaims.
    
          The trial court denied the supplemental motion on non-substantive grounds.
    
    In its order, the trial court noted that it already dismissed Cohen’s counterclaims,
    
    and it declined to advise how it would rule on the res judicata issue, stating: “The
    
    motion invites the Court to issue an advisory opinion, which the Court declines to
    
    do.” Like the summary-judgment order before it, this was an interlocutory order.
    
          Approximately one month later, all other claims and parties were nonsuited,
    
    and Tour Partners’s affirmative-defense summary judgment against Cohen’s
    
    counterclaims became a final judgment, and Cohen initiated this appeal. In
    
    addition to responding to Cohen’s appellate arguments, Tour Partners cross-
    
    appealed the denial of its supplemental summary-judgment motion. Tour Partners
    
    asks us to consider its res judicata argument as an alternative basis for affirming a
    
    judgment that we would, otherwise, be reversing (based on our holding that notice
    
    of a defective “deed” did not begin the limitations period on Cohen’s claims), even
    
    though the trial court never passed on the merits of that argument.
    
    
    
    
                                             25
          Appellate courts must review all summary-judgment grounds on which a
    
    trial court actually ruled, whether by granting or denying the motion, that are
    
    dispositive of the appeal. Id. at 624; see Baker Hughes, Inc. v. Keco R. & D., Inc.,
    
    
    12 S.W.3d 1
    , 5–6 (Tex. 1999) (extending Cates rule to require review of grounds
    
    raised in earlier summary-judgment motions ruled on and denied on merits). But
    
    appellate courts are afforded discretion to decline to consider summary-judgment
    
    grounds on which the trial court has not ruled. Cates, 927 S.W.2d at 626 (“We hold
    
    that courts of appeals should consider all summary judgment grounds the trial
    
    court rules on and . . . may consider other grounds that the movant preserved for
    
    review and trial court did not rule on . . . .”) (emphasis added).
    
          Given the complex procedural history of this and its related case as well as
    
    our resolution of the other issues in the appeal, we conclude that this is not a
    
    situation in which we should exercise discretion to consider summary-judgment
    
    grounds on which the trial court has never issued a substantive ruling. See id.
    
    (allowing that appellate courts “may” consider other grounds on which trial court
    
    did not base its ruling); see also Elwess v. Farm Bureau Cty. Mut. Ins. Co. of Tex.,
    
    No. 11-12-00339-CV, 
    2014 WL 6755662
    , at *3 (Tex. App.—Eastland Nov. 26,
    
    2014, no pet.) (mem. op.) (holding that appellate court would “decline to address”
    
    summary-judgment grounds not addressed by trial court). In our view, the better
    
    
    
    
                                              26
    course is to remand to allow the trial court to consider these issues in the first
    
    instance.
    
          We overrule Tour Partners’s cross-appeal issue.
    
                                       Conclusion
    
          We reverse the trial court’s order granting Tour Partners’s motion for
    
    summary judgment. We remand for additional proceedings consistent with this
    
    opinion.
    
    
    
    
                                                Harvey Brown
                                                Justice
    
    Panel consists of Justices Keyes, Brown, and Huddle.
    
    Justice Keyes, dissenting.
    
    
    
    
                                           27