A Brief Guide to Suits on Sworn Accounts in Texas.
There is a big difference between a simple breach of contract action and a suit on a sworn account. A suit on sworn account is not technically a separate cause of action, but merely a separate method of proving a Defendant has breached a contract with them.
How Do You Prove a Sworn Account Claim?In a traditional breach of contract case, a plaintiff must prove that: (1) a valid contract existed between the plaintiff and the defendant, (2) the plaintiff tendered performance or was excused from doing so, (3) the defendant breached the terms of the contract, and (4) the plaintiff sustained damages as a result of the defendant's breach. Viajes Gerpa, S.A. v. Fazeli, 2016 WL 7478352 at *12 (Tex. Ct. App.-- Houst [14th Dist.] 2016) The petition does not have to be sworn to by the Plaintiff in order to present prima facie evidence of the contract. They simply need to prove that a contract existed by traditional means, such as through evidence and testimony.
So, What is the Main Benefit of a Suit on Sworn Account?The biggest distinction between a basic contract claim and a suit on sworn account is that in order to place facts in issue and avoid a summary judgment against them a defendant must rebut a sworn account with a sworn denial. Id.; Tex. R. Civ. P. 93(10); Canter v. Easley, 787 S.W.2d 72, 73 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1990, writ denied). A sworn denial is where a Defendant submits along with his answer to the court an affidavit swearing to certain facts that negate the Plaintiff's sworn account claims. The sworn denial must put facts at issue that rebut the Plaintiff's sworn account claims. A sworn "general denial" is not sufficient to place any facts in issue to rebut a sworn account claim. See Huddleston v. Case Power & Equip. Co., 748 S.W.2d 102, 103-04 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1988, no writ) (holding that sworn general denial is insufficient). If the Defendant's sworn denial does not place any facts in issue or is insufficient for some other reason (such as no personal knowledge, etc..) then the Defendant has still left themselves open for summary judgment.