Suing Insurance Companies

When suing an insurance company, the pleading of a lawsuit have to be proper or the case gets thrown out of court. An example of an insurance company trying to do this is found in a 2015 case from the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas. It is styled, Garza v. Scottsdale Insurance Company,et al.
This is an insurance coverage dispute arising from hail storm damage to Garza’s home. Scottsdale removed the case from state court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, with its allegation that the non- diverse claims adjusters, Wardlaw Claims Service, L.L.P. and Michael Clark (jointly Adjusters), were improperly joined. The Court granted the motion of Garza to remand from the Federal Court to the State Court, ruling that in this case the proper pleading standard was met.
Scottsdale’s argument is that Garza has not satisfied pleading rules because, while federal courts often apply Texas “fair notice” pleading rules in removal decisions, Texas pleading rules are no longer as liberal as they once were. Scottsdale refers to newly adopted Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 91a, which provides for dismissal “on the grounds that [the cause of action] has no basis in law or fact.”
This Court has previously observed that courts in the Southern District of Texas have held that state standards are applied to the evaluation of improper joinder claims when they are more lenient than federal standards. Thus this Court has applied Texas “fair notice” pleading standards.
Scottsdale argues, however, that the state standard has changed with the advent of the new Texas Rule 91a.
In the context of Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 91a, and after considering Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6) practice, the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals observed:
We conclude that both determinations of whether a cause of action has any basis in law and in fact are legal questions that we review de novo, based on the allegations of the live petition and any attachments thereto. In conducting our review, similar to the analogous [federal] situations discussed above, we must construe the pleadings liberally in favor of the plaintiff, look to the pleader’s intent, and accept as true the factual allegations in the pleadings to determine if the cause of action has a basis in law or fact. In doing so, we apply the fair notice pleading standard applicable in Texas to determine whether the allegations of the petition are sufficient to allege a cause of action.
Scottsdale failed to offer any data to show that the Supreme Court of Texas would determine this issue differently.
Under the Texas “fair notice” standard for pleading, the question is whether the opposing party can ascertain from the pleading the nature and basic issues of the controversy and what evidence will be relevant so as to prepare a defense.
The “fair notice” requirement of Texas pleading relieves the pleader of the burden of pleading evidentiary matters with meticulous particularity.
After reviewing the Plaintiff’s Original Petition, the Court was of the opinion that the pleading adequately informs Scottsdale and the Defendant Adjusters of the issues such that discovery can be conducted and evidence can be developed in a proper defense. It thus satisfies the Texas pleading requirements.

Contact Information