Pete Reid recently scored another trial victory in Travis County District Court in a complex real estate fraud case that included forged signatures and vindictive cousins.
In November 2017, Brenda Meeks retained Pete Reid Law when she discovered that her signature had been forged on a deed transferring the property she owned to someone else.
Ms. Meek’s mother had owned the East Austin property for more than a decade before she passed away in August 2017, and as the sole heir, the property passed to Ms. Meeks. However, during the process of selling the property, Ms. Meeks discovered the forgeries and the attempted transfer.
Apparently, Ms. Meeks’ cousins believed that they had a right to part ownership of the property. However, instead of having their claims adjudicated in court, her cousins forged Ms. Meeks’ signature on a Quitclaim Deed, had the signature notarized, and then sold the property to a professional boxer.
When the crooked cousins learned that the Quitclaim Deed was insufficient to convey the property, they put together a General Warranty Deed and forged Ms. Meeks’ signature on that too. The same notary signed off on the forgery again. Both deeds were filed in the Official Records of Travis County.
The boxer, claiming to be the new owner, then filed a lawsuit to try and evict Ms. Meeks from her own property. It was at this point that Ms. Meeks sought help from Pete Reid Law.
Once retained, Pete Reid immediately filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court naming the four cousins, the notary, and the boxer as co-Defendants. The lawsuit alleged fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and sought an order from the Court removing the forged documents from the title to the property, (an Action to Quiet Title).
After successfully halting the eviction lawsuit in Justice of the Peace court, Pete Reid took detailed video depositions of the eldest cousin and the boxer. During his deposition, the eldest cousin testified that he could not remember anything about either of the days when the allegedly fraudulent documents were signed. Under oath, the cousin stated that the documents were valid. However, he couldn’t remember who arranged for everyone to sign the documents, he couldn’t remember who else was there at the signing, and he couldn’t even remember where the documents were signed.
In another deposition, the professional boxer testified that he had previously loaned the eldest cousin more than a hundred thousand dollars in cash. The boxer stated that he had then agreed to accept Ms. Meek’s property in exchange for canceling the debt owed to him. The property was valued at more than $260,000. Despite their memory loss, the cousin and the boxer denied that the documents were forgeries. The notary and the other cousins refused to answer any questions put them in writing.
With no likelihood of settlement, the case was set for a bench trial in the week beginning Tuesday May 29, 2018 before Judge Amy Clark Meachum of the 201st District Court in Travis County.
At trial, only the eldest cousin and the boxer showed up on behalf of all of the defendants. The two of them continued to argue that the documents were valid, but they were unable to produce any evidence to support their claims. Pete Reid again cross-examined the defendants to emphasize the inconsistencies in their stories, and played the video deposition testimony to the Court that was previously recorded.
In closing, Pete Reid requested that the Court find that the Quitclaim Deed and the General Warranty Deed be declared void, and that Ms. Meeks be declared the sole owner of the property. Mr. Reid also sought costs and reasonable attorneys fees on behalf of his client.
On June 14th 2018, after considering all the evidence and reviewing the transcripts, Judge Clark Meachum found in favor of Ms. Meeks and Pete Reid Law. Judge Clark Meachum declared the forged deeds to be void, declared Ms. Meeks as the sole owner of the property, and ordered all of the defendants to pay costs and attorney’s fees to Ms. Meeks.