Is This An Insurance Contract?

Here is a strange case.  The insurance company is claiming their insured has not adequately proven he has an insurance policy with the insurer.

This opinion is from the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division.  It is styled, Michael Harris v. Meridian Security Insurance Company et al.

In this case, Harris was out of town when he house was robbed.  Harris made a claim for items that were stolen and was assigned claim number PR-0000000-191439.

Harris cooperated with Meridian’s investigation of his claim up to the point where he was asked for medical records and tax returns.  Based on this refusal, Meridian denied the claim.  Harris filed suit.  Meridian filed a Rule 8(a) motion to dismiss based on its assertion that there is no valid contract between it and Harris.

Meridian says it is impossible for it to have breached a contract with Harris.  Harris responds saying Meridian officers signed the insurance policy and subsequently breached the policy.

Under Texas law, the essential elements of a breach of contract action are: (1) the existence of a valid contract; (2) performance or tendered performance by the plaintiff; (3) breach of the contract by the defendant; and (4) damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the breach.  In order to have a valid and binding contract, there must be: (1) an offer; (2) acceptance in strict compliance with the terms of the offer; (3) a meeting of the minds; (4) each party’s consent to the terms; and (5) execution and delivery of the contract with the intent that it be mutual and binding.  Proper parties to a contract include the parties to the contract, assignees of the parties to the contract, agents entitled to sue on behalf of the parties to the contract, and intended third-party beneficiaries of the contract.

Parties to a contract are the signatories to the contract or those who have otherwise indicated their consent to be bound by the contractual promises.  Privity of contract exists when the parties have formed a relationship that allows them to sue each other based on their contractual duties.

Meridian claims that because Harris labels them as “administrators” of the policy and not the issuer, it is not in a contractual relationship with Harris and Harris has not stated a claim for breach of contract.  In the Amended Complaint, Harris alleges that: he had an insurance policy with Meridian, Meridian evaluated his claim and issued the claim number, Meridian was responsible for the requests and paperwork he submitted, and Meridian issued the denial letter through its employee, Sherri King.  Further, Harris points out that the insurance policy in question, attached both to Meridian’s Motion to Dismiss and Harris’s Response, is signed by officers of Meridian officers.  When reviewing the pleadings in the context of a motion to dismiss, the Court assesses the legal feasibility of the complaint and not the weight of the evidence that might be offered in support of said claims.  Given Harris’s allegations against Meridian and the specificity with which he describes Meridian’s role in the alleged breach of contract, the Court does not find it appropriate to dismiss Harris’s breach of contract claim against Meridian under Rule 12(b)(6).  Accordingly, because Harris has sufficiently pled breach of contract against Meridian in his Amended Complaint, Meridian’s motion is Denied.

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