Assignees May Sue for Breach of Contract Under Texas Law
The original parties to the contract are not the only parties who can sue on a contract. Assignees and third-party beneficiaries may also sue. This article deals with the rights of assignees.
Assignments are governed by general contract law. Cadle Co. v. Henderson, 982 S.W.2d 543, 546 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1998, no pet.). “As a general rule, all contracts are assignable.” Crim Truck & Tractor Co. v. Navistar Intern. Transp. Corp., 823 S.W.2d 591, 596 (Tex. 1992). Assignments may be whole or partial. Ins. Network of Tex. v. Kloesel, 266 S.W.3d 456, 465 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2008, pet. denied). An “assignment” is a transfer of some right or interest to an assignee who receives the authority to assert that right. Matter of Estate of Abraham, 583 S.W.3d 374, 379 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2019, pet. denied).
“[T]here are no required forms or formalities by which an assignment must be made.” In re Cooper Mfg. Corp., 344 B.R. 496, 508 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2006) (applying Texas law). Like contracts in general, assignments need not be in writing, can be oral, do not need any particular form of words, and can even be inferred from circumstances showing the intent to assign. Banco Longoria, S. A. v. El Paso Nat. Bank, 415 S.W.2d 1, 5 (Tex. Civ. App.—Eastland 1967, writ ref’d n.r.e.); Brown v. Mesa Distributors, Inc., 414 S.W.3d 279, 285 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2013, no pet.); Escalante v. Luckie, 77 S.W.3d 410, 418 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2002, pet. denied); Adkins Services, Inc. v. Tisdale Co., Inc., 56 S.W.3d 842, 846 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2001, no pet.).
An assignment is created upon a manifestation of intent to transfer a right to another – that’s it. Miller v. Bank of the W., 01-88-00195-CV, 1988 WL 88320, at *2 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Aug. 25, 1988, no writ); Banco Popular, N. Am. v. Kanning, 638 Fed. Appx. 328, 334 (5th Cir. 2016) (applying Texas law). An assignment may be proven by oral testimony. Adkins Services, Inc. v. Tisdale Co., Inc., 56 S.W.3d 842, 846 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2001, no pet.). An assignment may be shown or proven by circumstantial evidence. Banco, 638 Fed. Appx. at 334 (5th Cir. 2016).
“A plaintiff establishes standing to maintain a breach-of-contract action by demonstrating that it has an enforceable interest as a party to the contract, as an assignee of a party, or as a third party beneficiary.” Republic Petroleum LLC v. Dynamic Offshore Res. NS LLC, 474 S.W.3d 424, 430 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, pet. denied) (emphasis added). See also, Foster v. Nat’l Collegiate Student Loan Tr. 2007-4, 01-17-00253-CV, 2018 WL 1095760, at *8 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Mar. 1, 2018, no pet.) (since assignee stands in shoes of assignor, assignee has privity and may sue for breach of contract); Frontier Communications Nw., Inc. v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 02-13-00037-CV, 2014 WL 7473764, at *1 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Dec. 31, 2014, no pet.) (“To establish standing to assert a breach of contract cause of action, a party must prove its privity to the agreement or that it is a third-party beneficiary or assignee.”). An assignment places the assignee in privity of contract with the other contracting party. Stark v. Am. Nat. Bank of Beaumont, 100 S.W.2d 208, 213 (Tex. Civ. App.—Beaumont 1936, writ ref’d); Dodd v. Terrill, 05-93-00268-CV, 1994 WL 24378, at *5 (Tex. App.—Dallas Jan. 28, 1994, writ denied).
This article represents one author’s viewpoint and is not a substitute for legal advice.