A suit on a sworn account is a procedural tool, as opposed to a cause of action, that allows a party to recover under certain types of accounts. The claim must be brought pursuant to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 185 and establishes a prima facie right of recovery for the plaintiff. See Williams v. Unifund CCR Partners Assignee Of Citibank, 264 S.W.3d 231, 234 (Tex. App. 2008).
The elements of a suit on a sworn account are 1) an action founded upon an open account or other claim for goods or services 2) on which a systematic record has been kept 3) supported by an affidavit 4) where such claim is just and true and all lawful credits and offsets have been allowed 5) and the damages are liquidated.
The goal of the plaintiff in filing a suit on sworn account is to establish a prima facie right of recovery. A defendant must timely file a sworn denial according to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 185 and 93 to controvert plaintiff's petition and destroy plaintiff's prima facie right of recovery. Defendant's failure to timely file a sworn denial can be catastrophic to defendant's case.
“In the absence of a sworn denial meeting the requirements of the rule, an account is received as prima facie evidence as against a defendant sued thereon, and the defendant may not dispute the receipt of the items or services, or the correctness of the stated charges....” Rizk v. Financial Guardian Insurance Agency, Inc., 584 S.W.2d 860, 862 (Tex.1979).
If a defendant fails to file a verified denial in his or her original answer, a defendant may amend according to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 63 and 66. In fact, in Chapin & Chapin, Inc. v. Texas Sand & Gravel Co., Inc. the Supreme Court of Texas held that a trial court's refusal to allow a defendant to verify its denial was an abuse of discretion by the trial court. Chapin & Chapin, Inc. v. Texas Sand & Gravel Co., 844 S.W.2d 664, 665 (Tex. 1992).
Suit on a sworn account is an effective procedural tool for plaintiffs who are owed money on an account. While a defendant's failure to properly deny under the rules will provide a huge evidentiary advantage to plaintiff, a defendant will generally have every opportunity to get a verified denial on file.
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