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Dallas insurance lawyers will all have tales of people who lost cases they might have otherwise won if only they had hired an experienced Insurance Law Attorney. This is illustrated in a Dallas Court of Appeals case styled, Marqueth Wilson v. Colonial County Mutual Insurance Company. Please understand that even with an attorney Wilson may have lost this case but here they did not even stand a chance.
According to Wilson’s original petition, on June 24, 2012, he was driving on Scyene Road in Dallas when an object fell off of the car traveling in front of him. The object hit his car, causing property damage. He further alleged the impact of “hopping the curb” caused bodily injury to his lower back, neck, shoulders, and legs.
At the time of the incident, his insurance policy included uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, comprehensive and collision coverage, rental reimbursement, and personal injury protection (“PIP”). Wilson alleged that despite giving Colonial the opportunity to honor his policy, the insurance company refused; therefore, he filed suit for breach of contract, negligence, bad faith, and private nuisance.
After a reasonable time for discovery, Colonial filed a traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment. Attached to its motion, Colonial included a copy of the insurance policy, Wilson’s first amended original petition, a recorded statement from Wilson, and a payment log.
Colonial argued it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because it issued PIP payments in accordance with the policy’s terms and Wilson was not entitled to UM/UIM benefits. Because it had not breached the contract, Colonial further argued Wilson could not prevail on his negligence or bad faith claims. In support of its no-evidence motion for summary judgment, Colonial argued there was no evidence it breached the insurance contract or caused injury. Without such evidence, Colonial again argued Wilson’s negligence and bad faith claims likewise failed.
When Wilson attempted to respond to the motions for summary judgment, he was incarcerated on an unrelated matter. In his brief, he alleges he timely filed, per the mailbox rule, his objection and original answer and motion to quash Colonial’s motions for summary judgment. However, the documents were returned to him “with various stickers indicating the package was over 13 ounces and a threat to security.” He further alleges other “exhibits” he mailed later did make it to the court.
Colonial received the documents and attached exhibits the post office returned to Wilson. Colonial then filed objections to Wilson’s response and summary judgment evidence. The trial court sustained Colonial’s objections and entered summary judgment in its favor. This appeal followed.
This Court then, one by one, pointed out the errors and Wilson’s procedural efforts to respond to the motion. What is significant for Wilson and others to know is the statement at the end of the opinion. The court said, “We recognize that Wilson is appearing pro se; however, we hold pro se litigants to the same standards as licensed attorneys and require them to comply with applicable laws and rules of procedure. To do otherwise would give a pro se litigant an unfair advantage over a litigant who is represented by counsel. vBecause Wilson failed to preserve his issue for review, it is overruled.