Correct Parties To A Lawsuit Against Insurance Company

Attorneys who handle insurance cases in Fort Worth and around Texas will want to read this 2018, opinion from the U.S. District Court, Eastern Texas, Sherman Division.  It is styled, Bradley Sanson v. Allstate Texas Lloyd’s.

This situation deals with property that was substantially destroyed in a storm.  Allstate was the insurer.  The insureds were Bradley and Vicki Sanson.  Bradley submitted a claim and after attempts to settle the claim were unresolved, Bradley filed a suit alleging breach of contract, and violations of the Texas Insurance Code among other causes of action.

Allstate filed a Rule 12(b)(7) motion to dismiss based on Bradley failing to join a party under Rule 19 .  Under a Rule 12(b)(7) motion to dismiss the Court makes two inquiries under Rule 19.  The Court must first determine under Rule 19(a) whether a person should be joined in the lawsuit.  If joinder is warranted, then the person will be brought into the lawsuit.  But if such joinder would destroy the court’s jurisdiction, then the court must determine under Rule 19(b) whether to press forward without the person or to dismiss the litigation.  Allstate has the burden of showing that Vicki Sanson is a necessary and required party as they allege.

Allstate primarily argues that Vicki Sanson has an interest relating to the subject of the lawsuit and is so situated as a named insured that disposing of this action in her absence may very well leave Defendant subject to a substantial risk of incurring, double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations concerning the interests at issue.
It is pointed out that if the Court dismissed the case, Bradley would not be able to refile suit as it would be barred by the applicable statute of limitations.  As such, any argument that Vicke could file own lawsuit in time and open up the possibility of double, multiple, or inconsistent obligations is disingenuous.  Also, if Vicki’s claim is not time-barred, either res judicata or collateral estoppel would likely bar any claim Vicki could bring regarding the same incident.  As such, it is unlikely Allstate would incur double, multiple, or inconsistent obligations because of Vicki’s absence.
While Vicki is not the same person as Bradley, her interests are adequately represented by Bradley in this lawsuit.
Allstate’s motion was denied.