Sarah v. Primarily Primates, Inc., 255 S.W.3d 132 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2008, pet. denied).




A simian care center and a university entered into a contract under which the university transferred to the care center several monkeys and chimpanzees in exchange for the center’s agreement to provide the animals with lifetime care. Considerable litigation regarding the animals’ care ensued with an argument being made that the contract acted to create a trust which would then be governed by Property Code § 112.037.

Both the trial and appellate courts agreed that the contract did not create a trust. The court studied the contract in connection with Property Code §§ 111.003 (types of trusts covered by Trust Code) 112.001 (methods of trust creation), and 112.002 (requirement of trust intent). A contract which is devoid of trust intent cannot be transformed into a trust. The contract was replete with contract language and did not contain trust language such as “trust,” “trustee,” or “beneficiary.” The court recognized that technical words are not necessary to the creation of a trust but that nonetheless this contract reflected no evidence that the original parties intended to create a trust for the care of the animals.

Moral: A court will not turn a contractual arrangement between parties into a trust just because there may be a socially valuable reason in so doing (e.g., to grant non-parties to the contract standing to enforce).