Insurance Lawsuits – Pre-Suit Notice

Duncanville insurance lawyers need to understand the pre-requisites to filing a lawsuit against an insurance company. The most important of these pre-requisites is found in Texas Insurance Code, Section 541.154. This section requires pre-suit notice. The failure to follow this requirement is discussed in a recent opinion from the U.S. District for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The case is styled, Johnson Medical Associates v. State Farm Lloyds.
State Farm Lloyds removed this insurance dispute from state court to federal court on February 25, 2015. Shortly thereafter, State Farm timely filed a Verified Plea in Abatement pursuant to Section 541.155(a) of the Texas Insurance Code on grounds that it did not receive the statutorily-required pre-suit notice of Plaintiff’s claims. On March 23, 2015, the Court abated the action and ordered Johnson Medical Associates to file a notice indicating the date on which it tendered the statutorily-required notice to State Farm. Johnson Medical failed to comply with the Court’s Order or otherwise respond. Thus, on August 12, 2015, the Court again ordered Johnson Medical to file a notice with the Court indicating the date on which it tendered the statutorily-required notice to State Farm. The Court set August 24, 2015 as the deadline for Johnson Meidcal to comply and admonished Johnson Medical that “failure to timely file the notice with the Court will result in dismissal of this case for want of prosecution.” To date of this opinion, State Farm had failed to file any notice with the Court. The Court then determined that this case should be dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).
A district court has authority to dismiss a case for want of prosecution or for failure to comply with a court order. This authority “flows from the court’s inherent power to control its docket and prevent undue delays in the disposition of pending cases.” Such a dismissal may be with or without prejudice. A dismissal with prejudice is appropriate only if the failure to comply with the court order was the result of purposeful delay or contumacious conduct and the imposition of lesser sanctions would be futile.
The Court had twice ordered Johnson Medical to demonstrate that it had complied with the statutory requirement to provide notice of its claims to State Farm. Johnson Medical failed to comply with the Court’s Orders or otherwise respond. The inability to proceed with this litigation is directly attributable to Johnson Medical’s failure to provide the information requested. Under these circumstances, dismissal is warranted.
For the reasons stated, Johnson Medical’s claims and causes of action were dismissed without prejudice, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b), for want of prosecution.