Insurance Law – Follow The Rules

Failure to follow the rules related to Insurance Law can have bad consequences.  This is seen in a September 2019, opinion from the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division.  The opinion is styled, Libardo Taboada v. State Farm Lloyds.

This case was dismissed by the Court for Libardo’s failure to follow rules set out in the Texas Insurance Code, Sections 542A.003 and 541.154.

First there was non-compliance with the pre-suit notice which was sent on August 21, 2018.

Second, Libardo could have complied when State Farm sent its verified plea in abatement pursuant to 542A.005(c).  Instead he did nothing.  Under this law, the period of abatement continues for a 60-day period after a compliant letter is served, failure to serve a new letter guaranteed that this action would not move forward.

Third, Liberdo could have complied after this Court found the pre-suit letter insufficient.  On February 8, 2019, the Court granted the motion to abate with an Order requiring a new notice letter be sent and a statement of compliance to be filed with the Court within 5 days.  The statement of compliance was not filed at all and the new notice letter was not sent until June 19, 2019.

Fourth, Liberdo could have complied after the Court found the second letter insufficient and granted State Farm’s motion to dismiss, which State Farm had modified to request only another abatement.  In that Order, the Court set an August 8,2019, deadline for serving a revised notice letter in compliance with the statute.  Liberdo was further ordered to file a statement of compliance with the Court by August 9, 2019.  Instead, Liberdo served State Farm with a non-compliant letter and filed their statement of compliance, 21 days after the deadline set by the Court.

The statement of compliance misrepresents Libardo’ effort to conform to the statutory requirements and to abide by the orders of this Court.  Liberdo asserts that, while they failed to timely file the statement of compliance, State Farm was not prejudiced by that failure.  However, the statement of compliance requirement was for the Court’s use in managing its docket, as explained in the Court’s first order imposing the requirement.

Fifth, Libardo could have complied after State Farm filed its second motion to dismiss, which is pending before the Court.  This motion gave Libardo notice of the deficiencies and even after Liberdo had opportunity to consider the Court’s detailed listing of the noncompliant elements of the prior notice letter.

Libardo has still not complied with the requirements of the Insurance Code despite representations to the Court to the contrary.  Liberdo only cured defects regarding attorney fees.

This opinion discusses specific deficiencies remaining and is a good read for anyone having problems understanding the requirements.