Insurance Lawyer Needed

People needing an attorney in Grand Prairie, Arlington, Mansfield, Irving, Fort Worth, Dallas, and other places in Texas will probably get confused on this case and realize the necessity of hiring an experienced Insurance Law Attorney.
The Amarillo, Court of Appeals, issued an opinion on October 17, 2011, styled, In Re Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Company. This is a case where Farmers was seeking the issuance of a writ of mandamus from this appeals court. Farmers was asking this court to issue an order to Judge Carter Schildknecht of the 106th Judicial District Court of Garza County, Texas, to abate trial on extra-contractual claims asserted by real-party-in-interest, Terry Henrie. This court denied Farmers request.
Here is some background.
In September 2008, Henrie was involved in an auto accident when William Rainey collided with Henrie’s parked vehicle. Henrie sued Rainey and, later sued Farmers, his personal auto carrier. The suit against Farmers was for failure to pay uninsured motorist (UIM) benefits, and extra-contractual claims for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing and for violations of the Texas Insurance Code.
In July 2011, Farmers filed a plea in abatement requesting the Judge to abate all extra-contractual claims until after resolution of the UIM claim. The court denied the plea on August 30, 2011. In a letter, dated September 30, Farmers informed the Judge that it “made a settlement offer to conclude the entire contract claim” of Henrie. Trial was scheduled for October 14, 2011.
Farmers contended that Texas law established that, when an auto insurance carrier makes a settlement offer for a UIM claim, a trial court is without discretion and must abate extra-contractual claims until the contractual UIM claim is resolved. Because the Judge did not abate the extra-contractual claims, Farmers contended it is entitled to mandamus relief.
In its analysis of this case, this court recognized that “mandamus” relief will issue only to correct a clear abuse of discretion for which the relator has no adequate remedy at law. The court agreed with Farmers that Texas case law establishes that abatement of extra-contractual claims is required in most instances in which an insured asserts a claim to UIM benefits. However, in a mandamus context, for a party to preserve its complaint that the trial judge failed to abate extra-contractual claims, that party must have brought the issue to the trial judge’s attention by seeking the issuance of an abatement order from the trial judge.
This court notes that nothing in Farmer’s petition for mandamus established that it sought an abatement order from the trial judge on the grounds upon which it now seeks mandamus relief. In July, Farmers filed a plea in abatement in which it raised the issue of abating Henrie’s extra-contractual claims until his contractual UIM claim could be resolved. The trial judge held a hearing on this plea on August 30, at which the trial judge denied Farmer’s abatement plea. In a letter to the Judge, Farmers informed the court that, at a September 29 mediation, it made Henrie a settlement offer to conclude his entire contract claim. The remainder of the letter read as follows:
“We appeared before you on August 30. On the record, you denied and overruled defendant’s Plea in Abatement. I am enclosing a copy of the order to memorialize your ruling which was prepared by plaintiff’s counsel and I have approved as to form only.
Unless you have reconsidered your ruling, we would ask that you now sign and enter the enclosed order to facilitate appellate review of the same.”
Notably, this letter does not request the trial court reconsider its denial of Farmer’s plea in abatement in light of its settlement offer to Henrie. However, Farmer’s mandamus petition alleges that the Judge clearly abused her discretion by failing to abate Henrie’s extra-contractual claims after Farmers made a settlement offer on Henrie’s entire contract claim. As such, Farmers has failed to to preserve its complaint by failing to seek an abatement order from the trial judge on the grounds upon which it now seeks mandamus relief.
In making its ruling, this court stated, “Consequently, we cannot conclude that the trial court clearly abused its discretion or that Farmers does not have an adequate remedy available at law. Having failed to establish its entitlement to mandamus relief, we deny Farmers’s petition.”